What Do Teenagers Eat?

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by Chef Dave, Jun 26, 2008.

  1. Chef Dave

    Chef Dave Companion

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    Jun 26, 2008

    Hello All!

    I'm a high school chef instructor and am always looking for new ideas to incorporate into our student operated restaurant.

    What do teenagers like to eat?

    We currently serve a daily changing plated meal and have a small static menu for lunch. Our static menu includes: flame grilled hamburgers, fries, bean burritos, green chili burritos, pizza bread, and fresh fruit salad.

    All of the items on our static menu are popular.

    Popular plated meals have included chicken fried steak with mashed potatoes, country gravy and corn, beef enchiladas with Spanish rice and refried beans, and spaghetti with meat sauce and garlic toast.
     
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  3. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Jun 26, 2008

    Students (and teachers) at my school love big salads with a lot of bulk--taco, Caesar, Asian sesame, whatever.

    I think you should include at least one healthy choice, too. Teenagers don't need to just eat burgers, pasta, pizza, and burritos. When I look at our own school's lunches, I cringe just knowing that on each student's plate is about 2,000 calories. Yuck.
     
  4. Bored of Ed

    Bored of Ed Enthusiast

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    I don't know all that much about teens, but I agree with Cassie -- salads are big (especially among the diet-conscious girls!)
     
  5. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    Jun 26, 2008

    My two childen will eat almost anything (unless it's a cooked vegetable, then my son won't touch it!). Salads (chicken caesar, greek, garden, spinach, etc) are popular as others have said. What about other cold choices--bagels, wraps, sandwiches, etc.?
     
  6. Brendan

    Brendan Fanatic

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    Jun 26, 2008

    Chicken Fingers or Buffalo Wings/Chickens (alone or in a Sandwhich/wrap).
     
  7. ~mrs.m~

    ~mrs.m~ Comrade

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    Jun 26, 2008

    My 16 y.o. daughter loves salads, wraps, chicken nuggets, green beans, fruit, and pizza.
     
  8. glen

    glen Companion

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    Jun 26, 2008

    My teenage boys will eat just about anything! My older son is always looking for something healthier- wraps, salads with some kind of meat, Chinese-style meals, grilled chicken and pineapple. My younger one leads more towards the 'junk' food. Chicken sandwiches, burgers, macaroni and cheese, tacos.
     
  9. INteacher

    INteacher Aficionado

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    Both of my DD's are vegeterians - so I agree with others to adding salads, fruit salads, stir fry vegies, pasta salads, tuna, vegie wraps, vegie pizza, . . . .
     
  10. Chef Dave

    Chef Dave Companion

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    I tried this last year. We made chef salads ... and only a couple of students would buy them. Three or four faculty would also buy them. It wasn't cost effective for us to produce chef salads because freshly cut lettuce needs to be used the same day ... which means that unsold leftover product had to be discarded.

    I introduced yogurt ... with the same results.

    Other healthy choice failures ... broiled fish fillet with wild rice pilaf ... roast chicken breast with grilled vegetables ... Cuban black beans and rice ...

    (sigh)

    Stir fried vegetables are a nice idea - but we can't hot hold them because the veggies overcook ...

    I like Inteacher's suggestion about pasta salad. I'll have to think about this.

    The only healthy choice successes we've had were fresh fruit salad and surprisingly enough, chicken schwarmas ... basically an Arab "taco" made of pita bread stuffed with grilled chicken, cucumbers, lettuce, and tomato with a hummus spread.
     
  11. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    I'm shocked that the salads didn't go. The cafeteria at our school sells more salads than anything else.

    [On a side note, I love salads, but I hate chef salads. There's too much going on in them, and I don't really love lunch meat all that much anyway. I'll eat any other kind of salad, though, especially a nice, big taco salad, even without the shell.]

    I'll throw my vote in for wraps and chicken wings, or even a combination thereof. I also think kabobs would be tasty and easy to transport.

    What about smoothies? They're very popular these days, and I bet they'd be very easy to make. Clubs at my school sometimes do them, and I know they always seem to run out of them during 1st lunch, which means that they're getting bought up.
     
  12. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    [Still thinking...]

    Maybe you could lighten up some of your old standbys? Like make turkey burgers, grilled chicken strips (the naked ones, not the breaded ones), etc.? I know I would try to choose the healthier option if one were available.
     
  13. Peachyness

    Peachyness Virtuoso

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    I was in high school when I gave up meat and I noticed your menu doesn't offer a lot of meat free dishes. I like the smoothie idea. I'm also surprised salads weren't a hit. There are so many different great salad recipes out there. Veggie wraps is a great idea! Hummus is a good one too.
     
  14. Chef Dave

    Chef Dave Companion

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    Smoothies are a good idea. We've sold them a few times and have always sold out. The last smoothie I made was a Mexican inspired peach smoothie made with crushed ice, yogurt, banana, vanilla, and cinnamon.

    To make smoothies, I'd need to get some new equipment. We used home-style blenders which don't have enough volume capacity. I'd have to get commercial equipment.

    I'd forgotten about the success of our smoothies. THANK YOU!
     
  15. slinkytoy

    slinkytoy Rookie

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    Jun 26, 2008

    I think our students would like the wraps. We sell sausage roll ups at break and always run out. I wish we would sell healthier items like chicken or turkey wraps.

    I also think the smoothies are a great idea! They could also be very healthy.
     
  16. sumnerfan

    sumnerfan Comrade

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    Jun 26, 2008

    I think you should give a different kind of salad a try. I also intensely dislike chef salad but love asian chicken salads, taco salads, grilled chicken salads. Be sure to avoid imitation bacon bits. Those are just gross. :eek:hmy:

    I think the healthy alternative that was a hit sounds great! Recipe please.:D
     
  17. sumnerfan

    sumnerfan Comrade

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    Oh, and although I'm not a vegetarian, I do appreciate when people go light on the meat and cheese. It's nice to have something light at times.
     
  18. Catcherman22

    Catcherman22 Companion

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    Jun 26, 2008

    Cheese Enchiladad was one of my favs at my last school
     
  19. ~~Pam~~

    ~~Pam~~ Companion

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    Jun 26, 2008

    You have some really good suggestions here. Our Student Council did a survey before school was out about what foods students would like to see served during lunch and the faves were: asian chicken salad, grilled chicken salad, wraps, chicken nuggets, chicken pizza, and chicken nachos.

    On a side note, I will be helping my students run a coffee shop before school (our class project) and that is quite a job. I am not able to imagine what goes into your task! :eek:hmy:
     
  20. MS Candy

    MS Candy Comrade

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    Jun 26, 2008

    How about Hot Ham & Cheese sandwich, or of course any type of sandwich-non-meat would be a grilled cheese...
    I think teens like things they can hold and eat...when I worked at a high school, they wanted to be outside standing and eating, so with that in mind...finger foods
    taquitos, potato wedges....wings and tenders...maybe bowls-like rice and veggies, etc... so many fast food places have those now,

    or maybe even cups of soup ...
     
  21. Chef Dave

    Chef Dave Companion

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    Jun 26, 2008

    Thank you all for your great suggestions!

    I like the chicken nachos idea. We have previously served nachos but adding some grilled chicken would make this a meal. Taco salad would also be interesting. To keep the salad from wilting, we'd have to dish this up as ordered. I could introduce a healthy version by tossing fried onions with cooked ground chicken in a taco sauce mixed with baked tortilla chips, chopped lettuce, and shredded cheese.

    Asian salad? We'd have to test this to see whether it sells.

    Chicken nuggets? We tried this but burgers, burros, and pizza bread outsell this product.

    Wraps? Hmmmm ... maybe. Since we're in Arizona, burros always sell well. The chicken schwarmas we sold last year also did well.

    Pam - if you have any questions about doing something like this, feel free to start a new thread. I'll be happy to discuss coffee shop operations ... anything from pricing to food safety, heating, hot holding, etc.

    Even though you're probably selling to internal customers i.e. students and faculty, you should check with the county health department to see whether you're liable for inspection. You'll also need a business license.


    In addition to selling lunch, my manager and I make breakfast. I typically get to school at 6 AM to begin making the hot breakfast. My manager comes in at 8 AM to begin making the fresh fruit salad.

    The hot breakfast typically includes:

    1) Breakfast burrito: typically eggs, home fried potatoes, cheese, and some sort of meat (ham, bacon, sausage, or beef steak.)

    2) Breakfast tournados: This is a processed food item that comes already made. All I have to do is to deep fry it. It's a thin breakfast burro that was dipped in a corn dog like batter.

    3) Breakfast sandwich: English muffin with breakfast sausage patty, egg patty, and cheese

    4) We sometimes sell Danishes or toasted pop tarts but since kids can buy these out of a vending machine, we don't consistently sell this product.

    Cold (or non-heated) products include:

    1) Fresh fruit salad: watermelon, cantaloupe, grapes, and honeydew - prepared fresh daily.

    2) Breakfast granola bars

    3) Nabisco 100 calorie snack packs

    We used to sell juice but juice doesn't sell well. I wound up taking all of our remaining orange juice and cooking it down into a thick sauce that I seasoned with salt, pepper, garlic, and ground ginger. I tossed this with deep fried breaded shrimp and sold it as orange shrimp over steamed white rice. The orange shrimp was garnished with chopped nuts and minced green scallions. Now THAT was a popular hot lunch! :)

    Our restaurant used to sell candy bars but I discontinued this after I took over as chef instructor.

    My assistant manager opens the restaurant at 9 AM and sells breakfast through the 10 minute break that starts at 10:30. We typically produce 50-60 items total for sale and sometimes run out BEFORE the 10 minute break.

    Some of the guys will order a half dozen tournados and as many as three burros. You'd think they never eat at home!
     
  22. INteacher

    INteacher Aficionado

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    Chef Dave - I wanna eat at YOUR school :) or can you come and cook lunch and breakfast at MY school. Your menu is making me realllllly hungry :)
     
  23. Chef Dave

    Chef Dave Companion

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    Jun 26, 2008

    LOL! Thank you for your kind comments.

    It was one heck of a past year.

    The previous culinary arts instructor left under really bad terms. When she quit, she tried to sabotage my program. She "lost" information on how to reprogram our electronic point of sale cash registers. She "lost" information on student competency checklists. She refused to hand over recipes for the static menu, stating that these were proprietary and belonged to her family.

    She subsequently skipped out on 2 different scheduled orientation meetings that she had made with me. When I called her to arrange a third meeting, she snapped, "Well I'm just too busy," and hung up on me. To make matters worse, she began to bad mouth me, telling everyone she knew that I was incompetent. An anonymous complaint about the "terrible" sanitation conditions in my restaurant was made to the county health inspector.

    Things got so bad that the building administrator has banned her from setting foot on campus. Needless to say, I am also not on speaking terms with this person.

    Since I didn't have her menu and didn't know her procedures, I made up my own menu and my own procedures.

    The funny thing is that last year, we brought in more money than she ever did and grossed nearly $24,000 in sales ... and this despite the artificial price ceiling that the building administrator imposed since he wanted us to be price competitive with the school cafeteria. :)
     

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