General Mills
General Mills

Find Versatility and Cost Savings With Thaw-and-Serve Baked Goods

Biscuits, muffins, and pastries can help address several operational challenges.

As restaurant operators continue to grapple with myriad challenges—the pandemic, supply chain and labor shortages, and, most recently, record high inflation—they must once get creative when it comes to operational efficiency.

According to Tim Trainor, corporate chef at General Mills, the top challenge among restaurant operators is still labor. Restaurants have resorted to a variety of ways to deal with the lack of workers, including streamlining menus, shortening hours, and experimenting with new business models, such as ghost kitchens and virtual brands.

One way operators can make the most of the current landscape is by creating menus centered around versatile items, such as baked goods. General Mills’ portfolio of thaw-and-serve products are proven safe and easy to prepare, which saves on labor in addition to establishing trust.

“We can’t predict exactly what will happen, but we do expect the labor pool to continue to diminish,” Trainor says. “If you’re not promoting or getting credit for scratch made, don’t do it—bring in something more convenient. Maintaining that two- or three-step mentality is paramount for success for many operators.”

Biscuits, muffins, and pastries meet the need for easy preparation and versatility. They can be served on their own or as a complement to center plate offerings. Biscuits, for example, can be served with meats, eggs, or cheese, or as a side item on a breakfast platter. Depending on the application, they can also be the focus of both sweet and savory dishes.

“It depends on what equipment they have, but we’ve seen operators turn biscuits into waffles, flatbread, tacos, pigs in blankets, bread pudding, and many other creative dishes,” Trainor says. “These are all differentiated ways to take one product and use it throughout the menu—that’s what operators want to hear.”

Baked goods can also increase profitability. For instance, sausage biscuits are a popular breakfast item frequently appearing on dollar menus. However, they can be easily elevated with eggs, mixed greens, or specialty items such as pimiento cheese. Now, that dollar item becomes a $2.49 item.

“Getting people in the door is what operators need to figure out,” Trainor says. “Cost-conscious customers will go for the dollar biscuit, but regulars may want to try something different.”

Even with labor, budget, and supply constraints, restaurant operators can still provide elements of a made-from-scratch experience. Customers want to connect with their food, which can be accomplished in a variety of ways, including bringing elements of the back-of-house up front. For example, highlighting—by name—staff members who make bread, soup, and other popular menu items.

As inflation continues to rear its head, operators will no doubt find ways to cope with the challenge—because they must. Thaw-and-serve baked goods are one way operators can reduce supply chain and labor woes while elevating menus with creative, versatile dishes.

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