The best way to manage the wavering, inconsistent food costs at your restaurant is to implement portion control, that is, to set each dish’s portion size to streamline your stock purchases.
One of the most challenging aspects of managing a restaurant is getting the right amount of stock for your kitchen. Too little is never enough and too much leads to wastage and consequently, losses.
Calculating exactly how much stock you need and the costs to make a particular dish is tedious and tricky. Most recipes require over a dozen ingredients and they have an ever-fluctuating price in the market.
Here’s how you can master portion control within your restaurant:
1. Buy with Contract Pricing
Contract pricing includes yearly price freezing contracts that you can do with suppliers for raw materials.
- It helps in maintaining food costs, even if the price of the items fluctuates in the market, keeping you away from any nasty price surprises from suppliers.
- It also helps you plan menus and dishes better as you will know accurately, how much of a particular ingredient will set you back.
Every dish on the menu in your establishment must have a consistent, & fixed portion size to keep ingredient cost in check, ensure consistency in plating dishes during every shift & maintain a set standard for your diners.
If an entrée consists of masala dosa, sambar and coconut chutney, to streamline your portion sizes, you should organize your entrée like this; one dosa stuffed with 1 cup of bhaji, one cup of sambar and two tablespoons of coconut chutney. No matter who is cooking or plating up, the portion sizes do not change, making it easier for you to keep track of the food cost of each order taken.
3. Understanding per Portion Costs & Pricing
Once you establish fixed prices from your suppliers and streamline the portion sizes in your restaurant, the next step will become far easier calculating per portion costs.
- Calculating the cost of making one cup of sambar, for eg, can keep you ahead of the curve and help you anticipate the daily costs of different dishes.
- It will also help you carry out food cost analysis which will help you revisit your menu pricing in case any modifications are needed to make it more profitable.
Each restaurant will have different price points, but it is important to figure out a price range that works best for your restaurant, keeping the locality, target market and cuisine in mind.
4. Recipe Management
This way you can
- Keep a tab on the stock used in a particular recipe.
- Calculate the ideal stock consumption in each scenario.
- Get notified every time you are about to run out of stock of any item.
5. Utensil Usage
Ensure that your kitchen is consistent in their use of utensils.
- Make sure all the chefs use the same sort of ladle, to make measuring out your soup easier and more consistent.
- Using utensils which by themselves are a measure for the quantity that you want to serve like measuring cups & tablespoons, is a convenient, fast and easy way to keep consistency in portion sizes of all the orders.
- Ensure your employees get rid of the ‘free throw’ mentality – that is, throwing ingredients into the pan by instinct rather than by quantity. This will help you save some serious expenditures in the long run.
6. Audit your stock
Revisiting your finances, especially where your stock and inventory is concerned is always a good idea. Running a restaurant is all about effective inventory management and regular audits.
Regular audits of your stock will help you-
- Avoid unnecessary price increase.
- Figure out better ways of managing your stock. If you notice any discrepancies, taking action sooner rather than later will help avoid some losses in the future.
- Predict how much stock you need for the future more effectively. This will help you make sure that you do not buy an excess stock that gets wasted as well as avoid buying less stock that runs out too soon.