Which Hospital Foods are the Most Well-Received?

                As a part of my rotation at Mon Gen’s Patient Services, I needed to come up with a special project to implement and report on.  For my special project I decided to look at percentages consumed of certain meals. I gathered information from lunch trays on July 18-20, as well as breakfast trays from July 20.  I looked at each meal individually to see what food items were the most eaten and least eaten in that meal. I also combined all the data to see how each food item compared among all the other food items.  At around 9am for breakfast and 1pm for lunch, I’d go down to the dish room area and when the carts full of the trays returned, I would compare the items on the meal ticket to the food left on the plate to determine how much of what was eaten. I used the percentages of 0, 25, 50, 75, or 100%.  I was hoping this project would give me an idea into what foods are well-received and which foods are not, so that I could suggest appropriate changes to the menu that could increase the patient’s meal satisfaction.

Day 1 Lunch

For this meal, I looked at percentages eaten of the chicken salad sandwich, soup, brownie, and rice krispie bar.  There were 21 trays with 100% of the chicken salad sandwich eaten, and 13 trays in which 0% of the chicken salad sandwich was eaten.  It should be noted that about 5-6 of the trays that came back with 50% of the chicken salad sandwich eaten, had 100% of the chicken eaten, but 0% of the bread eaten. It seems that at least 5-6 patients enjoyed the chicken salad, but would have preferred to have it served without a sandwich bun.

The vegetable soup was pretty even across the board.  The rice krispie bar and brownie were highly popular and most trays had eaten 100% of the desserts.  Hostesses informed me that some patients request that they just receive the brownie, so the hostesses would give the patient the plate of their brownie, but not the rest of their tray. When I was shadowing a hostess, this happened once because a patient was about to be discharged, so they were leaving in just a few minutes and didn’t want their entire lunch.

 Day 2 Lunch

For this meal, I looked at percentages eaten of mashed potatoes, roasted turkey, and pineapple upside-down cake. The mashed potatoes and roasted turkey were highly popular, as over 20 trays came back with 100% eaten.  The pineapple upside-down cake was not as well received, as it had more even responses across the board.  11 trays came back with 100% eaten, and 10 trays came back with 50% or less eaten.

Day 3 Breakfast

On day three, I took a look at percentages eaten of breakfast items—toast, cream of wheat, and scrambled eggs. The scrambled eggs were highly popular, as 71% of the trays that came back had 100% of the scrambled eggs eaten.  The toast was also relatively well received. 31% of the trays had 0% eaten, but 53% of the trays had 100% of the toast eaten. The cream of wheat was very much an item that was either not touched (0% eaten), or was completely eaten (100%).  21 trays came back with all of the cream of wheat eaten, and 21 trays came back with none of the cream of wheat eaten.

Day 3 Lunch

 For day 3’s lunch, I looked at the chicken parmesan, pasta, breadstick, broccoli, lemon merengue pie, and/or lemon pudding. This was a popular meal, and as most of the trays came back with 100% of the foods eaten. The only item that wasn’t as popular was the broccoli, which 6 trays that had 100% eaten and 5 trays that had 25% or less eaten.

Average Percent Eaten

Finally, I compiled the data into one chart.  This time, I looked at the average percentage eaten of each food item.  For example, of all the patients that ordered lemon pudding, the average tray had 85.00% eaten.  For the patients that received the vegetable soup, the average patient ate 51.34% of the vegetable soup.  The items are ranked in order of percentage eaten, from “most popular” to “least popular.”

The lemon pudding and lemon merengue pie were the most popular desserts (at 85.00% and 84.21%, respectively), followed by the rice krispie bar and brownie, and finally the pineapple upside-down cake (at 64.81%).

The most popular breakfast item was the scrambled eggs, which received an average percentage eaten of 74.24%.  Toast was at 59.65%, and cream of wheat was one of the least popular items of the 4 meals I looked at, as the average patient ate just over half of the serving, 51.50%.

Finally, dinner items of mashed potatoes, roasted turkey, breadstick, pasta, and chicken parmesan all received average percentages eaten of over 65%.  The broccoli, chicken salad sandwich, and vegetable soup were not as well-received, especially the soup, which was the least popular food item of the 4 days. The average patient that received the soup ate just 51.34% of the soup.

If I were to update the menu based on the information I found, I would suggest a few changes.  One would be to offer patients the option of having the chicken salad on a sandwich bun or on a bed of lettuce. That way there will be less sandwich bun waste from the patients who enjoy the chicken salad but don’t want to eat it in on white bread.  The other suggestion would be to keep the lemon pudding and lemon merengue pie in the menu cycle, as both were well-received.  Since lemon appears to be a popular flavor, the kitchen could experiment with lemon flavoring in other items, such as lemon pepper fish, lemon gelatin, or lemon sorbet.  Thirdly, since the cream of wheat was one of the least popular items of the 16, I would experiment with different ways to spice it up.  During one of my meal rounds, a patient suggested putting sugar in it, but it could also be brown sugar, cinnamon, raisins, craisins, or walnuts.  In a similar way, the broccoli could be prepared or garnished differently in order to increase the average percentage eaten.  The broccoli could be baked with a light breadcrumb mix on top or simply garnished with a sprinkle of cheddar cheese.  Lastly, since the vegetable soup has the least percentage eaten of all 16 items, I would work to replace the vegetable soup with a different soup, or perhaps get rid of it altogether and replace it with a side of mixed vegetables.

Categories: Clinical Nutrition | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on “Which Hospital Foods are the Most Well-Received?

  1. Deb T

    How about I eat 100% of the chicken salad, but not the soup? This was very interesting, by the way!

    • Thanks! And you could do that! I tasted all of these items before they went out on tray line, and I must say, I wasn’t a fan of the vegetable soup, either! But the chicken salad (regular, modified, & mechanical-soft versions) wasn’t bad!

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