If you’re struggling to meet your menu management budget with the increasing product costs across the industry, we have outlined below some tips to help you keep food costs down and your profits up by implementing some changes, which over time will help you achieve your budget requirements.
It’s important to work closely with your catering teams and chefs to ensure they are fully trained and understand the reasons behind any changes, so your business has the best chance of remaining profitable and your costs kept to a minimum.
There are many benefits to eating produce that is in season, one of which is taste. This is especially true for fruit and veg; when they are shipped from abroad, they are often picked too early so they’re ripe on arrival, therefore flavour and freshness are compromised en route. When fresh local produce is picked at peak harvesting time with fewer food miles to get to your plate, it not only tastes better, but you’re also supporting local farms.
Out of season produce that is shipped from abroad can also result in the consumer paying more due to the storage and increased food miles it takes to get to its destination, therefore seasonal produce is often more cost effective.
Meat often represents 30% of the overall dish but the cost can be as high as 70% of the cost of the dish. Being creative with the meat in your dishes can be a good way to increase profit margins, for example, finding cheaper alternative cuts can be a great way to reduce cost. Examples of cheaper cuts of meat include skirt steak, lamb shoulder, as well as pork belly and ribs.
Some offcuts of animals that have not been favoured throughout the UK in recent decades are increasing in popularity, such as kidneys, offal, and tripe. This, in part, is thanks to high end chefs reintroducing these items on their menus, presenting them in new and interesting ways. Tripe for example, is low in calories and has more protein than a piece of steak, so in theory is a great alternative if cooked well.
The increasing numbers of people moving to vegan and vegetarian diets is great news for food providers; by offering more meat-free recipes on your menus can help you reduce costs with the omission of meat making recipes considerably cheaper.
Reducing food waste in your restaurant isn’t just the right thing to do for the environment, it helps to reduce costs in your business.
Measure food waste by tracking the food you use and what is not used; overproduction is often the root cause of increased food costs and reduced profit margin. Keep an accurate log of food waste going into the bin as calculating the cost of this waste can be a true eye-opener for your team.
Have a plan for excess food. Predicting customer demand is more of an art than a science; as such, restaurant and catering kitchens will often find themselves with extra ingredients. To avoid costly wastage, ensure your chefs have a plan to create new dishes out of excess ingredients and even utilise them to replace high-cost ingredients.
Stock control helps you see how much stock, (whether that be food or non-food items) you have at any one time and how to keep track of it. Processes are often put in place to control inventory, minimise costs, and manage future stock requirements.
When you have control of your stock, you will see improvements in customer service, warehouse efficiency and visibility of profit margins. Stock control is put in place to meet customer demand in a more efficient manner and decrease any cost associated with over-ordering.
Stock control also provides insights into your product offering and customer demand, showing what menu items are selling well and which aren’t as popular. These insights can help you tailor your offering to your customers and reduce the amount of waste from unutilised ingredients.
An electronic ordering system, such as our Freshmarkets purchasing platform, allows your employees to place orders directly with our network of suppliers through one online system, with one consolidated monthly invoice. This saves you considerably in time and resources as you will no longer need to write orders down and phone them through to suppliers, making the whole process more efficient.
Our purchasing system allows your teams to order within a targeted budget amount, and if these are exceeded, head office is alerted for excessively high orders or high costs. This helps you manage costs at site level, and we offer plenty of added value such as BI reporting tailored to your needs to help manage site spend and spot any anomalies.
Overzealous staff could be unwittingly giving away food by not measuring or serving the portion sizes correctly within recipes, so controlling this element by using our leading-edge menu management and costing system, CaterCloud, can help with cost savings. Not only is it completely free to use which is a huge benefit, but it will provide accurate and clear guidance on what measurement of ingredients are to be used and correct portion sizes.
Once your recipe is entered into the CaterCloud system it will always provide a clear control for your business that can either be locked down and shared across your estate, or user permissions can allow your chefs to have access to amend or create their own menus.
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