Food cost has an impact in any restaurant’s success or failure. The industry standard suggests food costs should compromise no more than 30% of the overall expenses of your business. Below are approaches to manage and reduce your food expenditures.

Track and Organize Your Inventory

Require your kitchen staff to maintain an up-to-date inventory list to prevent the purchase of unnecessary products. A major cause of higher food costs comes from spoilage and unused products. Invest time into analyzing inventory levels and usage rates to optimize your reorder process.

Facing a surplus of liquor or menu ingredients? Utilize them in a creative drink recipe or tantalizing menu special, allowing you to make good use of the items before they expire.

Protect Your Assets

Locking your restaurant’s liquor closet and wine cooler is a proven method for reducing theft. It is advised to have a perpetual inventory log of all items issued and of deliveries from vendors.

Another monitoring technique: install cameras in the trash area to watch for items being removed through the back door. For added protection, consider a policy that states management must inspect and approve discarding any food items.

Manage Your Waste
Many establishments cut their own steaks, seafood, or poultry and use excess trims in sauces. Aim to integrate trimmings and stems from produce into your menu to further reduce food waste.

Before a recipe is approved to appear on your menu, determine the cost to create the dish.

Proper portion control aids in cost management, since it allows for menu items to be pre-calculated and scaled accordingly.

Explore Ingredient Substitutions
Budget-savvy chefs regularly evaluate the cost of a dish to gauge whether a substitution of ingredients is needed.

As prices of many meat and produce choices elevate, consider substituting more cost-effective alternatives.

Exploring under-appreciated cuts of meat and less popular fruits and vegetables can introduce new flavors into your menu without breaking your budget.

Below are a few common substitutions:

  • Alternative Proteins– If choice cuts of beef, pork and lamb are out of budget, selections from the shoulder, flank and belly still offer great flavor, often at a lesser price. Transitioning seafood dishes into plates that feature poultry will also reduce costs.
  • Unique Grains– When rice and grain prices are high, shop for more cost effective varieties of quinoa, couscous or even brown rice.
  • Seasonal Produce– Fruits and vegetables are often priced best while in season and readily available. Keep a “in season” calendar to know when to acquire specific fresh ingredients for your dishes and when to find alternatives.

By focusing on inventory controls, waste and substitution options, you will save money and enjoy a positive impact on your bottom line.