American portion sizes are now twice as large as they were twenty years ago, and as the portions have increased, so too have the plates they’re served on. The average American plate is now 25 percent larger than it was in the early 1900s.
But empty stomachs have remained unchanged — they’re about the size of a fist.
So it comes as no surprise that almost three-quarters of the US population is considered overweight or obese. A lot of American’s like to get more bang for their buck, and food is no exception. Larger portions are often seen as a better deal because they provide more food for less money. But overly large portions can be dangerous to your customers’ health and your restaurant’s bottom line because they lead to overconsumption and food waste.
When it comes to the food you serve your customers, portion size matters. Here are four ways you can reduce your venue’s portion sizes without upsetting your customers.
Use Smaller Plates
By decreasing plate sizes your venue will get the added benefit of decreasing your food costs as well, since your portion sizes will decrease in proportion to your plates. The best part? This can be done without your customers feeling like they’re being ripped off — in fact, they most likely won’t even notice the difference!
Up the Greens
Vegetarian and veganism is gaining popularity among conscious consumers, with more than eight million American’s abiding by a meat-free diet. So consider reducing the size of the meat portions in exchange for an extra veggie side or more greens.
The recommended portion sizes for vegetables are two to three times the size of their meat counterparts, so feel free to pile on those veggies to compensate for smaller portions of meat.
An added bonus to topping your dishes up with veggies is that research shows that vegetable consumption actually helps to reduce risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer and diabetes. Vegetables are also far easier to digest than meat, meaning your customers will have room to eat more of what’s on their plate and there will be less waste overall.
Reduce Meat Portions
The recommended portion size for meat is three ounces which is about the size of a fist. However, many restaurants serve meat three or four times larger than the recommended size which ultimately leads to overconsumption or wasted food.
If your venue is famous for it’s meat-based entrees, consider increasing your plant-based sides such as salad and asparagus, and reducing the meat portions to the recommended size.
Offer More Shared Dishes
As the adage goes, “variety is the spice of life.” But the quest for variety is also the reason why many guests order more food than they could or should eat.
Give your guests the opportunity to try ‘a little bit of this’ and ‘a little bit of that’ without having to commit to entree sizes of each by offering more shareables and small plate items on your menu.
Shareables or tapas are fun – they’re a great way for customers to enjoy food together and experiment with different dishes without overeating. And because tapas plates are generally small, your customers will be able to eat more, spend more, and leave feeling satisfied, not stuffed.
For perpetual over-consumers, larger-than-average portions can lead to expanded waistlines and a number of other health risks such as high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity. On top of individual health considerations, consumers who are unable to finish portions that are too large add to America’s nation-wide food waste problem, and wasted food equals wasted money. Thankfully with the tips above, you can reduce your costs, your portion sizes and your restaurant’s environmental impact.