Seasonal Menu Changes

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Adjusting Your Menu Throughout the Year
Changing your menu seasonally is a great way to keep it interesting and fresh. It’s also the best thing for your food cost since seasonal ingredients are cheaper and more readily available. Some foods are available for purchase outside of their harvesting months because they are preserved through various storage methods, but purchasing food when it’s being harvested is usually the best route. Here are a few simple ingredients and the seasons in which they are easiest to find:

artichokesSpring– Artichokes, asparagus, fava beans, cherries, grapefruit.

Summer– Eggplant, okra, summer squash, tomatoes, sweet peppers, apricots, cherries, peaches.

Fall– Corn, eggplant, ginger root, okra, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, turnips, artichokes, sweet peppers, almonds, apples, peaches, pistachios, pomegranates.

Winter– Kohlrabi, parsnips, winter squash, turnips, grapefruit.

Menu items can be easily adjusted to make room for what is currently in season. The Cream of Asparagus Soup of spring can transform into Corn Chowder for fall. If you have a menu that doesn’t normally change (for instance you sell mostly burgers and steak) you can still make minor adjustments to sauces and salads, and keep with the theme of the season.

Desserts are another great way to showcase seasonal ingredients. Cherry Pie can turn into Sweet Potato Pie, Grapefruit Sorbet can become Pistachio Ice Cream, and so on. You can still give customers the food they are expecting, with just a small flavor twist.

Not only does changing the menu seasonally make sense and save money, but it gets your creative culinary gears turning and can introduce you to some wonderful fruits and vegetables you haven’t met yet. It also gives you a leg up on your chain restaurant competition because they don’t usually have the freedom to change their menu as quickly and frequently as a smaller business can. Take advantage of your creative freedom and keep your menu exciting.

Last modified: March 1, 2013
Sasha Smith

This story is part of our Small Business Corner, a peek into the life and trials of small business owners.

Category: Insider's perspective, MPR Authored, Restaurants, Small Business, Small Business Corner, small business owners, Tips