Well, it is not breaking news in our industry that the cost of meat protein is through the roof. But there is no need to panic, it is time to adapt and readjust, and there are many ways to accomplish a successful shift.
There are a lot of other options filled with equal amounts of protein to choose from, like legumes, that are non-meat-based. What a time to be alive, it’s now easier than ever to introduce different sources of protein to your menu with the plant-based trend on the rise. I think you will be pleasantly surprised to see the sales on a well-executed lentil dish, a hearty black bean burger or cheese filled polenta dishes. You could also strap on your culinary cap and create new dishes focusing on grains and fresh produce. Buckwheat, Quinoa, Millet and Wild Rice are some of the products we are starting to see pop up on menus and are all good sources of protein. Don’t let anyone fool you, grains can easily be the star of a dish. Some of the best combinations to make complete vegetable proteins include legumes and grains, legumes with nuts and or seeds, animal dairy products (eggs, milk and other products) with any vegetable protein.
Ok, how about reducing your portion sizes. No human needs a 22oz. Ribeye or 16oz. Strip steak. According to MyPlate from the USDA, 4oz. is the actual recommended portion size. As a bonus, reducing your portion sizes will also significantly reduce your cost. Small plates (Tapas) are all the rage as people want to try new things and enjoy sharing those new culinary experiences in group settings. Tap into this Tapas trend by scaling back all your plates, this will alleviate the need for large, portioned meat dishes.
Stuck on size matters? Then how about trying new things with cheaper cuts. Cheaper cuts often offer more flavor when you take the time to properly prepare them.
No waste is another way to save money. Use the trimmings to make soups and stocks. So, let’s take a deep breath and stop panicking as protein prices rise and availability is short. These issues are going to remain for some time to come. This is your chance to get inspired branch out and create new menu items.