Cafeteria Strategies to Promote Healthy Choices

There is a lot that cafeterias can do to promote healthy choices and run a successful business at the same time. Here are some strategies other cafeterias have used to be successful.

  • Make the healthier items the first thing customers see when they enter the cafeteria. Place healthier items first in cooler or on food line.
  • Make healthier choices more visible by placing at eye-level and in good lighting. We are more likely to buy items at eye-level.
  • Make the healthier choice the default option. You can still have the less healthy side available for customers who ask for it. We are more likely to go with the default option.
  • Consider an “express line” with healthy Grab & Go items such as boxed lunches with sandwiches made on whole grain bread, a side of fruit and vegetable and water. We make healthier choices out of convenience.
  • Try accepting pre-orders in the morning of healthier items and then have them ready for pick up. We are more likely to pre-order a healthier item, than we are to buy it when we're hungry.
  • Make smaller portions the “regular” and the larger portions “double.” We associate portion sizes with the label, more so than the actual size.
  • Use attractive, descriptive names for healthier meal options like “exotic new veggies” or “breakfast salads.”
  • Use tall, skinny glasses for beverages. Tall and skinny glasses make it look like there's more drink. We pour less in tall, skinny glasses than in short glasses.
  • Use smaller plates and bowls. We over-serve ourselves when using larger plates and bowls, and we underserve ourselves when using smaller plates and bowls.
  • Make sure meals come with a vegetable. You can add any kind of non-fried, low-fat vegetable to meals. We think meals with vegetables are more appealing.
  • Offer more than one choice of healthier foods and decrease the number of less healthy options. We eat more when we have more options to choose from.
  • Encourage customers to make the healthy choice by asking, “Would you like a piece of fresh fruit today?” or “Would you like water with that?”
  • Make the daily special a healthier choice. Customers are more likely to choose a meal features on the front of a menu as the special. Try “Wellness Wednesdays” or “Fresh Start Mondays.”