Boomers are living a longer life and have either become accustomed to certain menu items, e.g., comfort foods, or excited to try bolder flavors that might tantalize their palates. Sweet will always be a taste that is pleasurable to an aging boomer as they lose taste sensations with age.
Nutritional perspective and a healthy halo are always going to be increasingly important to consumers in this target market. It is a choice for some and a mandate by their doctors for others.
Here are some of the various regional food trends to consider when menu planning:
American Regional Food Trends
- Carolina BBQ east and west have their differences
- Louisiana Cajun & Creole
- Floribbean seafood prepared with fresh focus utilizing fruits and veggies
- Texas BBQ brisket, bean-less chili
- New Mexico Southwestern cuisine
- California style with fresh produce, lean meats, vegetarian
- New York style large format pizza by the slice
- Blue Crab and fresh local produce
- Northeast Seafood bakes, lobster stew and rolls
- Midwest Yankee pot roast, slow cooked meats, local produce
- Colorado burritos covered with sauce is traditional
- Pacific Northwest Asian influence, heavy salmon
There are also many global food trends that may find a good place in Senior Living, especially as many older citizens have traveled and continue to travel. For example, the various classical dishes from Italy, Greece, and Spain have their place for regionally inspired menu planning. A bowl of spaghetti a la bolognese, gyros dinner with rice and small salad, a slice of sweet and nutty baklava, or a perfectly made seafood paella along with some light tapas can create excitement and be nutritional. In addition to being exciting and nutritious, these menus also have potential to be the center of social dining experiences. Satisfying for flavor, sustenance, and community. On the other hand, a Vietnamese pho can satisfy your consumer on a cold day. It is a cost effective and warm item that is lean and full of nutrients and flavor with great aroma.
Fortunately for operators, there are now versatile equipment options that allow for roasting, smoking, and steaming all in the same unit. These can also be programmable for ease of use. It is so convenient and provides many variations on the menu.
Induction technology has come a long way and provides a convenient cooking platform that is mobile and cost effective. Cooking stations are more portable and easier to use. Take the cooking to your residents – this convenience adds value.
Focus on plate presentations, flatware, and stemware. Use the right service ware. Presentation is important for overall dining experience.
Allowing the guest to see some of the preparation can help elevate any concerns about quality. Exhibition cooking can be an added feature to a dining experience.
Beverage pairing is an option that is often overlooked in senior dining. It can be without alcohol.
During menu planning, creating themes with some fun or engaging content adds a fun element.
Serving hot food hot and cold food cold is going to be an absolute must for this segment. Especially coffee. It must be served hot and with good taste.
There are many considerations focused on this consumer segment. It is important to understand what craveable means to a demographic. Taste and flavor will always play a role. Texture and aroma are equally important to this targeted consumer. Plate presentations cannot underestimate the importance.