Looking for holiday menu tips and tricks? Strategic Dining has you covered!

By Pam McDonald

Resident parties, special meals, families and lots of guests . . . the busy holiday season is a time you’ll want to showcase your community in its best light. But how do you tell a holiday-spirit-filled, flavor-packed story without a seasonal cost spike? According to Strategic Dining, innovation is the answer. 

A Senior Housing Forum partner, Strategic Dining Services is an integrated, hospitality-based program that enables its client communities to provide mealtime experiences not just meals. They transform food and dining services into a marketing and sales tool so meals become the differentiator during site visits and internal marketing events.

Strategic offers the following three-steps for creating impressive, but cost-effective holiday events.  

  1. Determine a theme and holiday food items that can be highlighted across key touch points with residents, families and referral sources. For example, create a holiday inspired homemade salad dressing, like cranberry sage vinaigrette. Bottle the dressing at the community and serve with candied nuts and goat cheese salad. Use this salad for:

    • A featured salad for residents

Use the bottled dressing for:

      • A referral source gift

      • A featured give-a-way item for group events

  1. Re-invent your holiday menu. Give the traditional favorites a new twist.

    • Use brines or marinades, sauces and stuffings to show off traditional offerings.  For instance . . . adding a shrimp stuffing to chicken or a lobster sauce to salmon are cost effective ways to create festive menu offerings without the cost of serving entrees of shrimp or lobster.

    • Exotic vegetables or fruits add a wow factor without taking away from the traditional standards

  1. Be creative and use up the items you have collected in the freezer. Challenge your staff to use these items in innovative ways.

    • Instead of adding expensive entrees prepare hors d’oeuvres and a reception with home grown entertainment for special nights

    • Special tasting for residents at a planned activity/event

    • Dress up a vegetable or dessert with an innovative topping

For a place to start, you can download a progressive sample holiday menu as well as recipes for sage and molasses turnkey brine and a graham cracker-oat crunch crumble

David Koelling, Strategic President, asks, “Do you use your dining services and hospitality to close deals? If the answer isn’t a resounding yes, you are not effectively using one of the most powerful tools in your arsenal. Strategic could allow you to achieve extraordinary execution, exceptional food, and innovation.

“Our model leverages online training tools, communication, and a lean operating structure to provide dining management services at one-fourth the cost of other industry third-party dining management companies. Our commitment to clients makes us the perfect partner for a value-driven operator looking to differentiate their product from the pack.”

Strategic Dining Services – with their completely customized, community-specific menu programs; insistence on healthful, seasonal, made-from-scratch food choices; purchasing support; affordability; training; innovation and creativity; and commitment to their clients’ teams – can help elevate resident satisfaction and grow census.

Make the most of the holiday season and create excitement that will last into the New Year!

Contact Strategic to discuss innovative support for your dining team in 2016.


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