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Ann Holtzapple
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04.15.20

Tips to Execute The Family Meal Takeout Trend

As restaurants adapt to restrictions on dine-in service mandated by the COVID-19 pandemic, many are taking creative steps to continue to serve their customers. One increasingly popular measure? Offering “family meals.” Here’s a closer look at the trend, along with tips for successfully adding family meals to your menu during these challenging times.

Catering to Families During COVID-19

While much is said about the value of families eating together, busy schedules and the hustle and bustle of modern life have not always supported family togetherness. Until now, that is. With social distancing and shelter-at-home orders in place, many families are spending more time together than ever before. This also means a newfound push to keep everyone happy and fed.

While households are cooking more, many also realize the importance of supporting their favorite local restaurants during this time. Furthermore, with working parents now tasked with managing the remote learning activities of their kids, they may not have as much time on their hands for planning and preparing meals.

Eating out is a routine part of family life, and normalcy is precious and heartening in these uncertain times. But with many people facing financial uncertainty, ordering out in the traditional sense can be a budget buster. Enter family meal deals, which allow families to easily and affordably enjoy the restaurant foods they crave.

Four Tips for Restaurant Family Meals

There’s a reason why many restaurants are getting on board with the family meal trend which lets diners order up complete meals for the whole family. In addition to pleasing customers, family meals benefit restaurants by allowing them to scale down operations without sacrificing quality or service. Wondering how to make the most of your own restaurant family meal deals? These five tips can help.

1. Use versatile ingredients in different ways.

Now is not the time to experiment with new ingredients. Rather, consider using ingredients that are already on your menu in different ways. At the same time, don’t feel limited to your concept. For example, if your niche is specialty pizza, using the same ingredients to whip up a dish of a different variety.

2. Embrace healthy AND comforting.

These are trying times. While some customers may prioritize eating healthy, others may be more drawn to hearty comfort foods. Not only that, but as the crisis continues, diner demands will change. Offering different options can help you continue to meet their needs.

3. Know your competition.

You’re not the only restaurant in town endeavoring to retain the business of your diners. Pay attention to what your competition is offering and at what price point.

Some states have loosened their restrictions on carry-out and delivery of alcohol. If you're able, consider adding a bottle of wine or growler of beer for free with a family meal. Other potential ways to add value include offering free delivery or dessert.

4. Keep it simple -- and fun.

Your customers aren’t looking for fancy or fussy. Rather, they’re looking for good food at a good price -- and maybe a good time, too. Possible offerings include chicken fajita kits with rice, beans, chips, salsa and soft shells; lasagna or pasta dinners; fried rice with their choice of chicken, shrimp or pork; and Mediterranean meat or vegetable kebabs with tzatziki sauce and pita bread.

While “family meals” may not have been part of your business plan in normal times, today’s times are anything but normal. For restaurants in uncharted territory, family meals represent a new way to keep diners engaged, satisfied and coming back for more.

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