Breakfast Trends in Senior Living Facilities

Senior living facilities — which include assisted living, skilled nursing, long-term care and short-term care — comprise a sizeable portion of the healthcare industry. Although traditionally associated more with medical services, many of these establishments are modernizing their foodservice programs to feature new restaurant-inspired formats. Changes include a greater emphasis on the foodservice setting, which is reflected in new onsite bistros and cafes at these venues, as well as more on-trend, higher-quality foods and beverages.

Breakfast Preferences

A majority of consumers aged 55 and over (81%) said the quality of prepared foods and beverages will influence which senior living facility they choose. This emphasis is partly due to respondents thinking ahead to dining occasions being a daily focus at senior living facilities as well as important social outlets.

When these same Baby Boomer and Mature respondents were asked what they would prefer in a breakfast program at a senior living facility, more than seven out of 10 expressed that variety (74%) and familiarity (73%) are important. Variety keeps foodservice occasions interesting and caters to diverse dietary preferences and needs, while familiarity imparts a sense of comfort and nostalgia for senior diners.

It is noteworthy that despite a desire for well-known breakfast foods and beverages, a third of consumers also agreed they would be interested in ethnic options (33%) and nearly a quarter would like to see spicy flavors on morning menus (24%). One easy and cost-effective way to offer ethnic and spicy options is through breakfast condiments, sauces and toppings that are presented at the table as an add-on to any dish.

Global condiments currently trending at breakfast are:

  • Cholula

  • Salsa

  • Sriracha

  • Ghost Pepper Sauce

About a third of consumers place high value on condiments, including the variety, quality and use of brand names. And nearly half of consumers (45%) want the ability to customize, which condiments enable. To meet these needs, operators should consider:

  • Presenting condiments at the table or a shared station to encourage customization

  • Offering variations within a condiment, including different flavor and nutritional options

  • Displaying trusted household condiment brand names to promote quality

Other important takeaways:

  • Beyond taste, other senses matter to seniors during breakfast occasions. Over half of respondents indicated that the look and temperature of food are important, and just under half said the same regarding texture. Varying food textures at breakfast could be as simple as offering seedless and seeded fruit spreads, and chunky and creamy peanut butters.

  • Having senior living facilities prepare breakfast to their specifications is important to Baby Boomers and Matures. These generations know what they want out of a dining experience, as well as what they don’t want.

  • Natural and organic breakfast ingredients are valued by nearly a third of respondents. Promoting brands that source these types of fare will enhance the quality perception and alleviate food-safety concerns.

  • Allergen-free fare is only important to a small proportion of respondents aged 55 and over and shouldn’t be a primary factor when menu planning. However, senior living residents will still appreciate some allergen-free fare presented at breakfast as these types of foods are often perceived as better for you.

Leading Better-for-You Claims on Senior Living Breakfast Menus:

  • Diet

  • Healthy

  • Low Sodium

  • Non-Dairy

  • No Sugar


Nutrition at Breakfast

Health is a top priority for senior living operators, with many employing onsite registered dietitians to ensure residents are served well-balanced, nutritious meals. This emphasis on wellness is also important to Baby Boomers and Matures, with more than a third of consumers aged 55 and over agreeing that better-for-you foods and beverages is important for breakfast occasions at these facilities.




  1. Elevate the Dining Experience

    Baby Boomers and Matures have high expectations for senior living foodservice and these food and beverage programs will greatly influence the residence they choose. Operators must elevate the dining experience in all ways, from offering varied eating spaces, to featuring higher-quality ingredients and brand names, to spotlighting impactful industry trends such as customization and global inspirations.

  2. Diversify the Menu

    A challenge for senior living staff is catering to different tastes and dietary constraints. Because meals are important occasions for residents, try offering a breadth of breakfast items, including nutrient-packed, ethnic-inspired and even some indulgent options. Variety on the menu also means having a sensible number of familiar and nontraditional morning dishes, preparations and flavors. One easy way to add variety is to offer an array of condiments."

  3. Emphasize Freshness

    Like all generations, Baby Boomers and Matures want to know that the foods and beverages they consume are made to order using high-quality ingredients. At senior living facilities, this could include action stations or assembly line-style service formats that showcase food preparation, or menu callouts that draw attention to the use of local produce and herbs from an onsite garden. There are multiple ways to convey freshness, but it is important to always highlight those methods on senior living menus.

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