Recipe-Ready Ingredients

I heard someone say recently that “data will set you free.”  Any business owner or operator would likely tell you this is true, especially in the business of food service.  Daily metrics related to labor costs, food costs, cook yield, plate waste, patient or customer satisfaction and so much more help guide strategic business decisions.  In all of these circumstances, numbers speak volumes.

In a healthcare setting, the complexity of multiple diets, food allergies, along patient preferences, provide challenges for operators as personalized approaches to menu selection are evolving.  From forecasting for special order items to balancing flavor with diet restrictions, finding efficiencies in a healthcare setting can be ambitious and almost always data-driven.  Recipe-ready ingredients, like pre-chopped frozen vegetables and fully cooked seasoned ingredient meats, easily qualify as efficient.  Their advantages are often priceless not just in time and labor, but also in food safety, food quality, and functionality.

Menu restrictions in your health care facility, including calorie levels, grams of carbohydrate, protein and fat, milligrams of sodium and so many more make menu planning feel like a puzzle!  Choosing menu items that will fit into multiple standard diets can help get you one step closer to solving it!  Recipe-ready ingredients can not only deliver on efficiencies, they can also deliver flavors that work across your menu to provide another data-driven delight.

When it comes to reduced sodium diets, the typical daily limit is anywhere from 1,500-2,000 milligrams (mg) of sodium per day; while the daily recommendation for a healthy adult is 2,300 mg per day.  Cutting back on sodium is often done by eliminating free salt (the salt shaker) from recipes and menus.  Once free salt is limited, the next step is usually swapping out higher sodium foods or ingredients with lower sodium alternatives.  Most of the time this is good logic, but other times, the benefits may not outweigh the cost (both figuratively and literally).

There are circumstances where a product with a higher sodium value might be the better option for your menu.  Moving from a raw, unmarinated poultry product to a recipe-ready, marinated product could cost you a little bit in sodium but could save you in labor, food safety, food quality, and flavor.

3 oz. Fully Cooked Dark Meat Chicken*


80 mg sodium

  • purchased raw
  • labor-intensive
  • non-marinated


* Source: United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service National Nutrient

Database for Standard Reference Release 28


3 oz. Fully Cooked, Low Sodium, All Natural* ½” Diced, Mostly Dark Meat Chicken**

120 mg sodium

  • purchased fully cooked
  • marinated for additional flavor, moisture
  • recipe ready


**Tyson Product: 10255590928 Tyson® Fully Cooked, Low Sodium, All Natural* ½” Diced Dark/White Meat 80/20 Chicken

Marinated poultry products deliver more flavor than non-marinated products and perform better in the kitchen.  From holding time to the mouthfeel, marinated products can be a key piece of your menu planning puzzle.  The slightly higher sodium value from recipe ready products could be rationalized by reducing free salt in sodium-restricted recipes or by switching condiments (or condiment portions) to achieve net changes needed for sodium-controlled menus:

United States Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Release 28
Source: United States Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Release 28

Optimizing inventory using recipe-ready ingredients that work across your menus may help your kitchen run more smoothly.  Small tweaks to menus and recipes could cover the sodium increase from a marinated product.  Sodium swaps, along with an evaluation of potential benefits to recipe-ready items will be vital to managing the data that drives your menu.

Our healthcare foodservice team understands the value of providing items that offer menu solutions while delivering on flavor, quality, and nutrition.  Visit for product information, including lower-sodium options to help meet your healthcare needs.

Credits by Tyson


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