I have recently noticed a growing trend in build-your-meal concepts, and I have to say, I like it! I mean, who wouldn’t? You made it right?

Customizing your own meals is no longer limited to just pizzas and subs; now you can enjoy customized meals of practically any cuisine. Lesser known, but longer standing build-your-owns like Mongolian BBQ (build-your-own stir fry/noodle bowl) and shabu-shabu (build-your-own Japanese stew) have gained interest, while other innovative concepts have come up with innovative spinoffs of new cuisines.

Yogurt and ice cream chains like Cold Stone Creamery, Red Mango, and Tutti Melon have emerged as some of the fastest growing franchises in the industry; and build-your-own salad bars like Mixt Greens and Croutons are a dieter’s dream. And there’s more; The Counter makes custom burgers with practically any topping you can imagine, Chickpea specializes in build your own pitas and hummus plates, and you can’t forget the customizable giant burrito by Chipotle. Surely, you can see the countless possibilities of the build-your-own.

What diners really love is the feeling of empowerment that they get from designing their own meals. They get to choose exactly what they want, how they want it, and how much of it they want. Almost like each meal comes with its own This meal designed by _____ label.

Not only have the custom combos branched out of their typical cuisines, they’ve also opened doors for innovations in marketing and ordering. Many restaurants have taken advantage of the internet and have built fun and interactive web pages that let users design their own meals. Check out this page that my company built for Mixt Greens: http://www.menucalc.com/calc/mixtgreens/. Diners can go online before they order (and by order I mean either online or by going to the store), design their own salads, and view the nutritional values for their custom orders. The Specialty’s Sandwich Editor also allows users to view customized nutrition details and order online with clever graphics.

You know I can’t let you go without a little health talk so let me quickly point out that the build-your-own also empowers diners to make healthy decisions about their meals on their own. The diet-conscious consumer now has the option to order lite, while the classic yes-is-more American diner can pile it on (don’t forget to up sell the extras.

Be on the lookout, the build-your-owns are out there, just waiting to get built.

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Tags: FoodCalc, Meal-Builder, MenuCalc, customize, nutrition, online, ordering

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