Simple Ways to Cut Food Costs – Part 1

 In 5. Fred Langley, Food Costs

When you are struggling to cut food costs and bring down your prime cost number, it is always easier to focus on your cost of goods sold rather than cutting labor. Not having enough staff can be a disaster in your restaurant, but making the most of the products you are selling stretches your dollars invested and earns you more in return.

Use the following tips as a guide to pad your bottom line without cutting labor. You don’t have to use all of these tips, but the more you find that work for you in your restaurant, the more money you’ll save.

Portioning techniques

  • If you run a 30 percent food cost and over portion by 10 percent, you will raise your food cost to 33 percent.
  • Poly bags are to be used for everything possible. Even if it is cheap pasta, it will keep your dishes consistent.
  • Use properly sized ladles and dishers for all sauces, starches, etc. Go smaller than the portion because staff will over fill them.
  • Always use measuring cups and understand that eight fluid ounces is not the same as eight ounces by weight.
  • 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.
  • Make the investment and get smaller china if your costs are out of control. Cooks will fill whatever size plate is in front of them. Get smaller china especially if you have a buffet.
  • Have photos of the perfect plate to go with your recipe cards and keep them in a binder.
  • If you discover that portioning is a problem across the board with your whole menu, start to make changes systematically. Do not change everything across the board all at once.
  • Cut your prawns in half, long ways, before cooking. They will corkscrew and take up just as much if not more volume than a single

Next week I’ll give you more tips for lowering your food costs, focusing on making the most of the food you buy.

Read more about ways to cut your food costs in our free special report, Breaking Away from the Insanity: How to easily take control of your restaurant and make more money. Download it here

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