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Metz Culinary Management’s grab-and-go stars mostly feature protein (and chicken is super popular), like this cool, kicked-up Buffalo chicken salad.

Think fast and grab these grab-and-go menu ideas

The flavors, fun and functionality of menu items at your c-store, counter or cart could be the difference between grabbing customers or getting passed by. At the moment, these are the items getting grabbed the most. Plus: Campus c-store stars and special Q & A on meal kits for seniors in independent living.

So…let’s talk turkey (wrap). What makes that little grab-and-go container a big winner? We asked onsite operators, chefs, c-store managers and directors for their top grab-and-go menu successes. We found some strong hints as to what’s in store for the c-store of the near future, and some easy ideas to grab right now.

Fresh, regional, dippable and snackable are grab-and-go keywords from Chef Jeffrey Quasha, CEC, CCCA, AAC, senior director of culinary innovation at Morrison Healthcare. Quasha is in a constant state of research and development and keeps a close eye on food trends and micro-trends.



“Our guests love seasonal salads, innovative wraps and small plate options like our signature chicken salad combo and small charcuterie boards,” Quasha says. “We also love to do fun and innovative seasonal desserts like cannoli parfaits or deconstructed candy apples.”

Other attention-grabbing items from Morrison Healthcare’s masterminds include a wide range of bento boxes: Protein-Packed Box (with cubed cheeses, pepper-crusted hard-boiled egg, cashews and grapes); Peanut Butter Crunch Box; Southern Comfort Box (with pimento cheese and dippers) and Memphis-style BBQ Sausage Box (with smoked sausages, house pickles and cheddar cheese with BBQ spice).

Global flavors and protein power

Pennsylvania-based Metz Culinary Management provides foodservice for a few different segments, including healthcare, K-12, college, corporate and airports. Grab-and-go is a part of the business for all of these accounts.


Trend-wise, it’s not a wrap on wraps! These items are a surefire grab-and-go success for Metz Culinary Management, made gourmet with smoky sauces and cheeses.

Metz managers and team members shared their most popular grab-and-go menu items, and the theme seems to be fresh and flavorful with a bit of health halo and a dash of luxury/indulgence.

Wholesome ingredients like fruit, nuts, cheese and eggs are found in a lot of the items and combo packs, like the Protein Pack, with pita wedges. Speaking of protein, chicken is a winner in grab-and-go menu items like Buffalo chicken salad, roasted veggie salad with chicken, grilled chicken bacon ranch wrap, grilled chicken Caesar wrap with feta cheese and berry salad combo and the BLT pesto chicken sandwich with tomato mozzarella salad combo.

Bowls and shaker salads are also big at Metz accounts, and each one has a distinct sense of place, from the Indian-inspired buddha bowl to the Southwest black bean and ruby wild blend shaker salad, Chesapeake seafood salad on a French roll and Mediterranean quinoa salad.


Fresh, coastal vibes are the key with Metz Culinary Management’s grab-and-go stars. Shown here, Mediterranean quinoa salad, roasted veggie and chicken pack and Chesapeake seafood salad.

House-rolled sushi is also popular, and special gourmet touches are found even in a ham and cheese sandwich: Ham and gouda on a pretzel roll.

Simple can be so appealing

Before you think it’s all about gourmet ingredients, keep in mind the quiet power of a simple snack that has the perfect balance of texture, flavor and nutrients as well. At New Mexico State University, Sodexo Marketing Supervisor Eileen Matamoros reports a surprising no. 1 student favorite: Grapes & Cheese. It’s just that: Red grapes and cubes of cheese in a clear cup.

“Satisfying students’ cravings for a convenient, mess-free snack, this option is effortlessly portable, eliminating the need for utensils or napkins,” Matamoros says. “Beyond its status as the top grab-and-go choice, Grapes & Cheese offers a harmonious blend of calories and energy, effectively aiding students’ concentration during classes. Served generously, it’s even suitable for sharing between two individuals.”

Campus c-store stars bring bold flavor to grab-and-go

Sodexo Universities’ most successful grab-and-go items are super on-trend with flavors meant to fascinate at a fast pace:

Franklin and Marshall teriyaki tofu

At Franklin and Marshall College, two new grab-and-go items have stolen the spotlight at The Diplomatic Café retail location: the chicken and black bean poke bowl (diced chicken with arugula, quinoa, salsa, onion, edamame, grilled pineapple, sesame seeds and sriracha yogurt) and the teriyaki tofu poke bowl, pictured (tofu with baby spinach, carrots, quinoa, corn, onion, edamame, grilled pineapple, sesame seeds and sriracha yogurt).

University of Hawaii Hilo Spam


Spam Musubi is big at the University of Hawai’I Hilo, where the Sodexo team sold 20,000 Musubis last year. It’s a favorite quick grab-and-go snack for beaches, hikes and classes, consisting of a block of rice topped with teriyaki Spam and held together with nori seaweed.

Muhlenberg College charcuterie board


Muhlenberg College’s catering department (Red Door Catering) has found big success with grabbable charcuterie cups, perfect for walking, talking and noshing.

University of Northern Colorado ham and swiss croissant


Classic flavors are arriving via new food carts the University of Northern Colorado. “Students love our new food carts,” says Sodexo Marketing Manager Saloni Jaiswal. “They love the convenience and being able to get a meal on the go.” Favorite items are the classic chef salad, ham and swiss croissants (pictured) and the chicken pesto sandwich.

Tulane University smash burger


Tulane Dining Services is wielding the never-fail power of a good, simple, done-right smash burger with a new concession item dubbed “Green Wave Smash,” an 8 oz. brisket-blend burger with American cheese, caramelized onions and pickles on a brioche bun.

Meal kits: Another opportunity in grab and go


The c-store at Elim Park retirement community is the perfect launch pad for a new chef-developed meal kit program from the team at HHS.

At the independent living end of the senior dining spectrum, meal kits could be something to look into, as many senior residents never stopped loving to cook and have fully functioning kitchens in their units and access to a c-store/marketplace.


Independent-living senior residents can pick up meal kits here, go home and get cooking in their kitchens.

HHS Senior Vice President of Senior Living Chris Simeone is developing a pilot program for highly interactive, live-video-assisted meal kits at Elim Park, a CCRC (Continuing Care Retirement Community) with independent living, assisted living, skilled nursing, rehab and 300 independent apartments. We asked Simeone about the process of bringing meal kits (and a fun, nourishing activity) to those apartments:

Q: Why did you decide to try a meal kit program?

A: The construction of Elim Park’s new video test kitchen (HHS’ partner account) is almost complete. With this addition, we thought it would be great to develop a cooking segment with our HHS and guest chefs that could broadcast live in residents’ rooms. We’ll pair this segment with our meal kits that residents can purchase and then cook along with our chefs from the comfort of their apartments.

Q: Do you think the residents are going to enjoy this, and why?

A: Many of the residents at Elim Park love to cook. They even share some of their favorite recipes with our chefs so we can recreate them in our kitchens. So we’re confident that these meal kids will be a big hit with the residents, and they’ll enjoy spending time cooking alongside our chefs.

Q: How will the details play out in terms of putting the kits together?

A: The meal kits will be made in our main kitchen on campus and sold in our onsite marketplace. We’ll be focused on having a strong marketing push before the official launch to generate excitement with our residents.

Q: What do you have planned for the debut meal kit?

A: We will begin with a few great recipes from our HHS Food Forward Cookbook. These include avocado and fresh fruit salad and roasted chicken thighs with fennel and tomatoes. It’s our goal to have the meals prepped and cooked within 30 minutes. The kits will consist of all necessary ingredients, recipe cards and nutritional information, like Hello Fresh or Blue Apron.

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