UK Menu Ideas and Trends for 2023

If you’re in the middle of creating a new menu, or you’re trying to come up with innovative menu ideas, it’s always important to consider the latest trends. Whether we’re talking about modern pub menus or classic bistro offerings, customer preference is always changing. Keep your menu ideas changing too, and you can continue creating menus that really hit the spot.

Here’s a look at some of the main trends you should keep an eye on in the UK in 2023. 

QR Codes for Restaurant Menus

As we move towards 2023, restaurants in the UK are facing some very difficult challenges. Inflation, food shortages, staff shortages, and a cost-of-living crisis are just a few of the problems. Overcoming these challenges will require a great deal of innovation and adaptability, and although you might not think it, switching to a QR code menu is set to become a big part of addressing these issues.

As well as making restaurants more environmentally sustainable by reducing the use of raw materials, the QR code menu offers many other increasingly essential advantages.

Adjusting for Inflation and Food Shortages

One major advantage of QR codes is the flexibility they allow when it comes to changing the menu. In times of inflation and regular food shortages, prices are often fluctuating, and certain menu items may not always be available. Adjusting for these factors can present quite a challenge when dealing with physical menus, with regular re-printing an unrealistic expense in a challenging financial climate.

But QR code menus can be updated instantly and at almost zero cost, allowing restaurant operators to easily test new pricing and menu ideas, and keep menus in line with inflation and food shortages.

Helping with Staff Shortages (More Advanced QR Code Menus)

Another huge challenge facing UK restaurants now is a shortage of staff, and QR code menus can help ease the burden here too.

Although many QR code menus up until now have simply linked to a static PDF image, increasingly we can expect much more interactive and responsive menus to be developed. These more advanced menus will allow customers to order directly from their table, add to their order throughout their meal, and pay and even split the bill/tip. 

Enabling this kind of seamless self-service will take some of the pressure off servers in under-staffed environments, allowing them to focus on other essential tasks without worrying about taking orders or payments.

It will also allow customers to continue ordering more food/drinks without calling over a server, which can improve the customer experience by creating less friction when ordering, and might even encourage diners to order more frequently, hopefully leading to increased sales.

Gaining Better Customer Insights

With a cost-of-living crisis in full swing, these are challenging times for everyone, and restaurants need all the help they can get to first attract customers, and then convince them to keep coming back.

Through the power of data, QR code menus are set to help with this too. Restaurants can use QR codes to gather data on customer preferences, by asking them to provide feedback about their meal and experience on the spot through the menu. They can then introduce personalised customer rewards, specials, and loyalty programs based on this data.
If implemented effectively, this level of personalisation can help restaurants really stand out in the minds of customers, and keep them coming back for more.

Sustainable Menu Choices

QR code menus are more environmentally friendly than physical menus due to the reduced use of raw materials, but there are also other ways you can create more ‘material’ friendly menus. 

Some restaurants have used digital projectors to project their menus onto walls, which means the menus don’t have to be printed and like QR code menus, they can easily and affordably be updated. If your customers prefer a physical menu, opting for recycled paper for printed menus will help make them more sustainable, or traditional chalkboard menus are also a material-friendly option. 

Whichever form of menu you do opt for, knowing the latest trends when deciding what food options to put on it will help make it a real success.  

Healthy Options on the Rise

Customers in the past have largely chosen which restaurant to visit based on three main factors; taste, experience, and price. But this is quickly changing, as a push towards healthier foods gathers pace. In 2022 we saw vegan options, and fresh, seasonal food on the rise. In 2023, the trend to watch is food transparency.

Food Transparency in Restaurants

As customers increasingly become more conscious about eating healthy foods that are also environmentally friendly, food transparency is becoming a key factor in their decision-making.

Increasingly, people expect restaurants to help them make healthier choices by clearly and honestly labelling items. Restaurant-goers expect to receive information about ingredients, nutrition, sourcing, and the social/environmental impacts of the food they are eating.

Certainly, something to consider if you are trying to create innovative restaurant menu ideas.

More ‘Plant-Forward’ Menus

We can expect to see an increasing number of plant-based options appearing on menus in 2023 as the trend towards healthier food preferences continues. This does not necessarily mean that menus will become entirely vegan or vegetarian, but that customers will expect to see more plant-focused dishes to choose from.

The idea of a ‘plant-forward’ menu is that it puts more of an emphasis on plant-based foods, without being limited to them. (Eating a plant-forward diet is gaining in popularity, and usually involves eating plant-based 70% of the time, while continuing to eat animal products.)

So, if you are designing a new menu for 2023, including a wide variety of plant-based recipes could well be the way to go. Why not check out some of our own healthy recipes if you are looking for inspiration.

Customisation is Key

Although there seems to be a clear trend towards customers seeking out healthier foods, what is actually perceived as ‘healthy’ can differ from person to person. There is a lot of contradictory information online about the health properties of various foods, and of course everybody’s dietary needs are different.

We can expect this to bring about more customisable menus moving forward, where each customer can create or at least modify their meals with the ingredients they feel are the healthiest for them.

Taking this trend into account while dreaming up new menu ideas should open the door for all sorts of innovative possibilities.

Whatever menus you do end up creating, they are sure to be exciting.