In some restaurant circles, fresh v frozen might be a philosophical argument. But in an industry where small business owners are grappling with labor challenges and cost control, the verdict is in — frozen can supplement your existing inventory, improving margins and reducing waste in the process.
Confession — I’m not a Frozen movie aficionado, and “Let It Go” is the only song I’m aware of. And yes, I do know this is a 10-year-old reference. Okay, now that that’s out of the way, let’s talk about frozen food products and their many benefits.
It may seem like there’s an endless drumbeat around cutting costs, but for a restaurant owner or operator, it has to be near the top of the list of priorities. After all, dining industry success rests on very narrow margins.
Frozen items can help address cost concerns in some simple ways: 1) inventory lasts longer, offering flexibility and versatility without sacrificing quality; 2) frozen often results in a higher yield relative to fresh, so your product goes further on menus; 3) frozen ingredients can arrive already fully cooked and are usually easier to prep-and-serve, reducing stress on your back-of-house.
Consider a few real-world applications — consumers continue to clamor for flavors that elevate popular dishes. Frozen sauces like pesto can be easily thawed, heated, and served with pastas, pizzas, sandwiches, or as a COP enhancer. Veggie blends come in a bag and can be quickly prepared as an entrée base or side.
Case Against Waste
Not only does cutting down on waste make good business sense, but it aligns with the values of many consumers. More and more, industry research shows that guests are increasingly likely to support restaurants that make an effort to reduce their footprint and are mindful of the larger ecosystem as part of their brand. And frozen is getting better! Innovations in quick freezing techniques result in less moisture absorption, and thus, less purge during thawing — giving your kitchen more bang for your buck.
Reducing waste is a concept that is also likely to matter to your staff. Younger generations tend to have stronger feelings about environmental impact, and they want to be part of a brand that shares their values. Also, with the hectic holiday season fast approaching, helping your team with simpler prep and readymade options can bring down their stress levels. Consider incorporating festive items into your menus like authentic, frozen stuffed pastas and raviolis or thaw-and-serve desserts such as cakes and pies from Sweet Encore®. You won’t need baking ingredients, or the messy prep, and your staff will give thanks for the reduced seasonal workload.
The Gift of Utility
Frozen doesn’t mean skimping on quality. There are a number of excellent items on the market that are easily made and ideal for all kinds of menus and restaurant concepts. New PIM® Buffalo Style Chicken Meatballs can be utilized in upscale settings and bar & grille locations. Applications include dippable charcuterie boards, pizza toppings, wraps, or grab-and-go Buffalo wing alternatives.
The lines between appetizers, small plates, and entrées have become even more blurred as consumers seek quality ingredients in casual settings. There’s now also an added emphasis on value and comfort food that can score big on social media. Think about the possibilities provided by an item like Roma® Heritage Mega Mozzarella Logs — hand-cut, hand-breaded, and made with whole milk mozzarella, these five-inch sticks stretch more than a foot when pulled apart — for mega likes online.
I may not know much about Elsa, Anna, Kristoff, Olaf, and the rest of the crew, but it’s clear that frozen offers a range of value, versatility, and quality to help you light up your holiday success this season. Thaw it up!