The Plus-One Playbook
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A restaurant chef delicately pours a signature sauce atop a plated meal. According to a Datassential Report, restaurants often charge extra for trendy concoctions, and 91 percent of consumers are likely to buy signature sauces when dining out.

Fully-prepared products are vital for minimizing foodservice costs and labor. But a restaurant can’t just serve a bowl of warmed up soup from a can. Chefs rely on innovation to whet the appetites of consumers. 
 
Using the plus-one method, restaurants can give pre-prepared products a unique spin by adding just one or two ingredients. This serves as an easy method for chefs to develop proprietary menu items that keep diners coming back for more. 
 
To provide some inspiration for menu R&D, we put together some examples of how to apply the plus-one method to a few different prepared items. 

 

Mashed Potatoes 
 
Comfort foods have reigned supreme throughout the pandemic, and it doesn’t get more comforting than dipping a spoon into whipped mashed potatoes. But comfort food doesn’t have to be boring. Adding something extra to prepared mashed potatoes can elevate this traditional side into a customer favorite. 
 
  • Instead of the usual potato toppings like cheddar and bacon crumbles, mix it up with brie or chorizo. 
  • Add in wasabi powder, harissa seasoning, or another international spice for an extra kick.
  • For something sweeter, mix pecans, brown butter, and marshmallows into mashed sweet potatoes.
  • Turn mashed potatoes into a hearty meal by piling on succulent meats and BBQ sauce.
  • Give mashed potatoes a German twist with sauerkraut and bratwurst. 
 
Quick Tip: Don’t take “plus one” too literally. Chefs can still limit prep time and labor by limiting their add-ons to about one to three items. 
 
Condiments and Sauces 
 
Signature condiments and sauces open a world of opportunity to operators. Restaurants often charge extra for trendy concoctions, and 91 percent of consumers are likely to buy signature sauces at retail according to a Datassential Report
 
Give consumers something special to dip their fries into or add to their sandwiches. 
 
  • Spice up ketchup with cayenne, curry, or sweet chili sauce. 
  • Give mayonnaise and aïoli an international twist with kimchi, za’atar, or saffron. 
  • For a plant-based approach, add pureed spinach to dairy-free cheese sauce or mix green chiles into vegan ranch dressing. 
  • Bring fruits and spices together to add a sweet kick to barbecue or hot sauce.
  • Create special alfredo sauces for a variety of dishes by mixing in seafood, mushrooms, or cilantro. 
 
Quick Tip: A base can also be a plus one. The right sauce, for example, can be the perfect addition to transform a fully-prepared product into a memorable meal.  
 
Rice and Grains

 

From Buddha bowls to side dishes, rice and grains are everywhere. Datassential SNAP! found that ancient grains have seen a 205 percent increase in menu adoption over the past four years. Taking a spin on grain dishes can attract adventurous and health-conscious diners.  
 
  • Roasted vegetables make for a tasty, healthy addition to rice. 
  • For a refreshing take on quinoa, add some lime zest and orange slices. 
  • Mix in beans, chickpeas, or other legumes to compliment the flavors and textures of grains.
  • Add mushrooms to farro to compliment its nutty flavor. 
  • To create a Thai sticky rice, combine the rice with coconut milk and mango. 
 
Quick Tip: Don’t be too fast and lose with the plus-one method. Forcing two items together to make something new could just make something unsavory. 
 
Your Sourcing Solution 

 

Developing on-trend menus doesn't have to exhaust restaurant resources or require hard-to-source products. Adding a unique touch to prepared ingredients can elevate meals while reducing costs and labor.
 
To get chefs started on reinventing their menus, Dot Foods has compiled fully-prepared and speed-scratch mashed potatoes, sauces, grains, and more all on one page. Each product is ready to source on the Dot Expressway. 
 
Perfect the plus-one method—shop fully-prepared and speed-scratch products on our Featured Product Categories site.