March finally brings noticeably longer days and, thankfully, plenty of fun holidays and events that snap folks out of that cabin fever so they can celebrate with friends.

With restaurants still facing industry challenges, finding ways to be even more efficient will be key to saving on food costs and labor this season. While preparing your menus for the following bar- and brunch-worthy events, make sure your star ingredients have a multitude of applications. Cross-utilization of items from AM to PM will cut way back on ordering time, menu prep, and food waste — making things easier on your staff and your budget.

Brunch Madness

Build-your-own taco and nacho bars during games always win because they cut back on prep and allow for customization without staff needing to do extra work. Double dip on the versatility of these ingredients by using them in the classic brunch dish huevos rancheros. Add beans and a couple of eggs to your already-prepped corn tortillas, Cotija cheese, cilantro, salsa, and jalapeños. Combine ancho chilis with water, tomato sauce, scallions, and spices for a finishing huevos sauce that can work just as well on gameday wings.

Or, opt for a sweet hot maple glaze to toss with crispy wings and serve with quartered waffles from brunch for a "chicken and waffles" app that's perfect for groups of basketball fans. No need for celery here. Make homemade — or buy thaw-and-serve — mini glazed donuts that can double as a sweet brunch add-on and a bun for savory beef sliders come game time.

St. Paddy's

Order plant-based protein breakfast sausages that you can serve as a vegan brunch side as well as for a St. Paddy's Day special alongside mashed potatoes and onions for a traditional bangers & mash, veganized. Turn excess brunch hashbrowns into Irish potato cakes by mashing them and adding flour, milk, and chopped herbs. Knead well and flatten into patties you can fry for a perfect St. Paddy's app or to go with a green beer.

Brine enough corned beef to serve a traditional dinner, then combine the rest with cooked cabbage (make sure all the liquid is drained out) herbs and eggs for a festive brunch frittata. Or serve leftover beef and cabbage shredded on top of a pizza with white sauce and thinly sliced potatoes that will keep celebrations going 'til bar time.

Homemade Irish soda bread is not only easy to whip up; its elements of zesty orange and sweet currants or raisins give it ultimate sweet and savory versatility. Slather it in honey butter as a side for sopping up Irish coddle, but then coat thick slices in egg and cinnamon and fry for a French toast that doesn't need to be dyed green to have a pot of gold at the end of it.

Easter Brunch

Special occasion brunches like Mother's Day and Easter typically feature a few more extravagant options like crab legs. Consider opting for a more economical fish option like salmon. Create a showstopping salmon Benedict for brunch, featuring a nice fillet atop hearty toast with seasonal asparagus, poached egg, and dill hollandaise. Elevate your bar menu by crumbling the rest of the salmon for panko-crusted salmon cakes you can serve on a bed of arugula, topped with capers, lemon, and a drizzle of hollandaise (if there's any left!).

Since many brunch entrees can be a bit indulgent, it's essential to add something lighter on the side like a refreshing fruit salad. Top with fresh mint or a drizzle of homemade orange simple syrup, both of which can be used in craft cocktails later on. Any leftover fruit can be used for garnishes or added to a jug of sangria for happy hour.

Thinly slice what's left of your Easter brunch brisket and serve sandwich-style on a croissant later on. Whip up a spicier sauce that'll complement the sweetness of the flaky pastry and cut it with some tangy pickles or slaw.

Get creative with how you can cross-utilize your ingredients and you just might come up with a new specialty that's unique to your brand and has guests coming back for more, even after these special springtime events.

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