Managing Food Costs at your Restaurant

If you are like many restaurants today, you are constantly looking for ways to lower food costs without consuming too much time or resources from operations already stretched thin. The practices below should be used (ideally together) to optimize various areas of operations for managing and improving food cost percentages.

Here are some practices you can implement to help reduce food costs:

Tracking Food Waste

Track waste in your kitchen and in the dining area. This can, more often than not, be one of your solutions. If certain dishes aren’t getting completely eaten, you should cut back on your portion size. One way to do this is to tell staff to notice the plates that come back clean more often. Another idea is to keep another trash bin designated for the leftovers to help determine food waste. However, if you find you are throwing away excess inventory in the long term, adjust menu items.

Another big way to control food waste is having consistent expectations on how much a recipe should yield. Are you using the amount of oil to fry 5 portions of fries but you are only frying for two– throwing out the excess? This waste can be costly over time. Try using things like measuring jars and cups to keep measurement accurate and consistent

Inventory Audits

Given the issue many face with not having enough labor to operate at times, this may be pushed to the side on your list of priorities. It is proven that setting aside just 10 minutes a day could make a big difference and could save you hundreds.

Costs of Key Items

A far less time consuming way to track inventories to control unexpected heightened costs is to prioritize those key items. To do this, decide which five items you purchase the most consistently each week. Each time you place an order, record it on a spreadsheet. If you see a steady consistent rise in price over time, you may want to ask your vendor if there is a cheaper alternative.

The Use of Seasonal Menus

Depending on where you are geographically, there may be a benefit to purchasing certain produce when it is in season because there is more availability in that season, lowering prices. Check with your vendor to see which are in season that time of year. Try to use these seasonal items in several different menu items, to optimize inventory on hand. For example, using spinach on pizza and in your limited-time offer salad.

Analyze your Menu

Analyze your menu and figure out which dishes aren’t passing the profitability test. Begin with your most purchased menu items that you can find from your data. Then, calculate to see if your best selling dishes’ food costs are 35% or less. Remove these items from your menu or If you decided to still keep them, put them further down on your menu.

Keep in mind, menu items that have low profitability and low popularity hurt you the most financially. Three ways you can handle these types of items is to rebrand the item as a limited-time special so you can purchase less ingredients, revise the recipe, or get rid of it completely. Take an honest look at these underperforming items and decide whether it is worth trying to revive them.

Managing food costs is a crucial part of running a successful restaurant. Adopting one or more of the practices above  is a great step towards minimizing costs and improving your restaurant's business operations.

Source: How to Reduce Restaurant Food Costs in 2022 Margin Edge Feb. 2022