How to Lower Food Cost with Portion Controls

 In 1. David Scott Peters, Food Costs, SMART Systems

Portion properly to control food cost.

Yes, food costs are always rising. But if you have the proper systems in place, such as recipe costing cards, you can absorb those costs. Stop screaming at your food distributor for your out-of-control food costs. Instead, get a mirror. Part of your food cost problem is you!

It’s time to clean up the processes in the kitchen. It’s time to use food portioning systems.

Here is why food portioning is important. If you run a 30 percent food cost and over portion by 10 percent, you will raise your food cost to 33 percent.

If you’re using recipe costing cards, but your kitchen isn’t following them – using 6 ounce portions when the recipe calls for 4 ounces – you’re losing money. If you aren’t holding everyone accountable to the recipe costing cards, you’re losing money, I guarantee it!

Some examples of portioning techniques:

  • Always use measuring cups and understand that eight fluid ounces is not the same as eight ounces by weight.
  • Use properly sized ladles and dishers for all sauces, starches, etc. Go smaller than the portion because staff will over fill them.
  • Make sure to always have a properly calibrated scale. A pound of butter will register 16 ounces if your scale is working properly.
  • Reusable plastic deli cups are great for stacking and they’re waterproof, so you can use them to portion fish.
  • Use standardized vessels if you are portioning on the fly.
  • Do some portion testing with the staff. Make the dish you are questioning in three different sizes, if the larger portion is the way to go for the dish, just price accordingly. Avoid cutting back on those dishes that the staff feel should be bigger; they will just make it bigger when you are not looking.

Just like with any system, you have to make sure it’s being followed. Hold your managers and your kitchen accountable.

For more information about using portion controls, try reading “Simple Ways to Cut Food Cost” – Part 1 and Part 2.

To learn more about systems that help you control food cost in your restaurant, in our special reportBreaking Away from the Insanity: How to easily take control of your restaurant and make more money. Download it here

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