Kids’ eating preferences can change all the time, and they often follow (or even lead) the trends happening around the country. Here are five of the top food trends forecasted for 2024 and ways to use them in your school.
While tomato is a common ingredient, the fruit has recently been getting more attention in magazines, food blogs and social media (ask your TikToking students about “tomato girl summer”). You can even find tomato-scented candles in stores! This spike in mentions is leading some to predict a wider use in 2024.
– Technomic, 2023
The distinct taste and aroma of tomato can evoke homecooked meals, which can help kids enjoy school meals even more. Tomato is already found in kids’ favorites like pizza and salsa, but it can also be used to introduce new, unconventional foods.
You’re probably well aware that kids today like spicy foods. In fact, the school-aged generation tends to be the most open to spice compared to others.1 The overall love of spiciness is also evident by the demand for hot honey, the semi-panic over the sriracha shortage, and popularity of web series about spicy foods.
Spices also let you add flavor while allowing you to cut back on sodium. But not every student will enjoy a kick of heat, so consider making normal and hot versions of each meal, or offer spicy ingredients like jalapeños or hot sauce on the side.
Hot Honey Biscuit Sandwich
Sliced biscuit, JENNIE-O® Dill-Flavored Breaded Patty #134659, pickles and hot honey. Serve with sweet potato waffle fries.
1 Better Homes and Gardens, 2023
Foodies on social media have been making meals with odd pairings of flavors or formats—and users can’t get enough. Pizza pot pies.2 Spicy smoothies.3 Hot dogs with pineapple salsa. They’re unique and sensory and even a little messy, but this celebration of the unexpected is a way to keep food fresh and exciting.
– Technomic, 2023
Turkey Loaded Tots
Make this explosion of texture and flavor using tater tots, JENNIE-O® NAE Slow-Roasted Dark Turkey #133615, cheddar and mozzarella cheese sauce, and garlic-parmesan sauce.
2 Pinterest Predicts, 2023
3 Technomic 2023
Breakfast-for-lunch isn’t a new trend, but it’s looking like it’ll get even more common throughout 2024 as restaurants continue to offer all-day breakfast to their customers—including kids.3 Serving more breakfast foods in the cafeteria is a great way to increase lunch participation while keeping students excited to eat.
JENNIE-O® All Natural* Spicy Italian-Style Turkey Sausage #54057, turkey sausage gravy, scrambled eggs and shredded American cheese on pizza crust.
3 Technomic, 2023
*Minimally processed. No artificial preservatives.
While it began as a way to break out of the monotony during the 2020 lockdowns, the idea of seeking adventure through globally inspired foods continues to drive eating choices. International fare is also a way for kids to connect with and experience different cultures. Some researchers are suggesting tropical-focused foods will be the next hit in 2024.4
Turkey Pad Thai
JENNIE-O® Browned Turkey Breast Steak #230324 combined with rice noodles, bean sprouts, carrot slivers and scallions. Top with chopped peanuts.
4 Pinterest Predicts, 2023