Menu Design: How to Perfect Your Menu

Menu design

The recent announcement about calorie inclusion on some menus has prompted business owners to rethink their menu designs. This article will explain the new legislation, outline the benefits of including calories and talk you through the stages of how to design the perfect menu on a budget.

New legislation to include calories

The Government’s plans to tackle obesity are set to see restaurants, takeaways, pubs and cafes with more than 250 employees add calories to every item on their menus.

The requirement for labelling of calories for larger out-of-home businesses has been in place for almost a decade, yet this change will now impact smaller hospitality businesses. While there is no set date for this change to come into effect, it has made many businesses rethink their menus in preparation for future changes.

Why including calories is beneficial

Many customers prefer to have in-depth nutritional information about the foods that they consume. In fact, three-quarters of people prefer cafes, restaurants and takeaway businesses to display calorie information on their menus. Including this information suits the demands of customers, making nutritional details accessible for those that want to view them.

How to work out the number of calories

There are many sites that enable you to discover the calorie and nutrient content of single ingredients, allowing hospitality businesses to work out the calories in each item on the menu. The USDA National Nutrient Database is an example of a useful resource to calculate calories.

menu design

When to change your menus

If you are not directly impacted when the new legislation comes into place, it is beneficial to prepare and update your menu when it suits you best.

Ideally, you would update your menus when you are certain that the information on them will remain correct for a significant period of time. Popular times to change menus include when changes need making, or when menus begin to look outdated or worn.

Make sure you organise the following before going to print with your new menus:

  1. Food and drink choices

Test any food or drink additions to your offering and make sure they are popular before committing to printing them on a menu. These could be tried and tested customer favourites, or specials that have proven to be best-sellers.

  1. Prices

Prices change over time, so your menu should reflect any updated prices. Before going to print, make sure the prices are suitable.

  1. Nutritional information

As we have explained, more customers are expecting nutritional information to be included on menus. Include accurate nutritional information and highlight any details about allergens.

  1. Proofreading of the menu

Last, but certainly not least, your menus should be thoroughly proofread before going to print. Having to reprint can prove very costly, so make sure there are no mistakes and that you are 100% happy before they are created.

menu design - how to design and upsell

How to design the perfect menu on a budget

If you do need to make an adjustment to your existing menus but don’t want to break the bank, here are some of the ways that you can design the perfect menu on a budget.

  1. Use printable menus

Consider printing paper menus that include any amendments, allowing you to make changes to your regular menu, drinks list or specials menu without having to invest in heavy-duty or laminated alternatives. To have a positive impact on the planet, make sure these can be recycled.

  1. Consider digital menu boards

A digital menu board requires an initial investment, however, they can then be updated as frequently as you want, saving money in the long term.

  1. Utilise peg letter boards and chalkboards

These eye-catching methods of showcasing items on a menu can be updated as often as you want, while also adding a touch of creativity. Some use them to highlight specials, while others include their whole menu on these great display boards.

  1. Update online menus

Showcase your new additions and menus on your digital platforms, whether this is on social media, on PDFs, or on your website. This is the best way to capture customers’ attention online and spread the word about your updated menus.

Menu design FAQs

How often should you update your menu?

Consider changing your menu design every four months, in order to offer seasonal specials. This can be done by rotating between different menus or updating your existing ones.

How many items should be on a restaurant menu?

This depends on your ability and capacity. Your menus should be a reflection of your best-selling food and drinks, making sure the kitchen can deliver the items on every menu in a timely manner and to a great standard.

Where do people look on a menu first?

There is a sweet spot in menu design, often referred to as ‘the golden triangle’. These are the places where customers look first on menus, beginning in the middle, before looking at the top right corner of the menu, and then the top left. Many restaurants choose to place their items with the highest profit margins in these positions, as they capture readers’ attention best.

How do you design the perfect menu?

Perfect menu design is a combination of using tried and tested techniques, as well as trial and error. To design the perfect menu, look at competitors’ for inspiration and create your own unique twist. Take feedback on board, take note of the items that sell best and make changes as required, paying attention to the differences that it makes to popularity.