Creating a menu for your restaurant can be enjoyable
experience; it can also be a chore especially when you do not have to
the correct tools with which to work. Chefs often liken it to picking
out names for a new baby. You can play around with terms and mix the
different foods together to see what looks great together. However, a
menu, just like that new baby, can be extremely complicated and often
difficult to make sense of at times.
Do you know how much you need to charge in order to make a profit? Food cost and portion control are two of the tools required to assist you in pricing your menu correctly. A reasonable profit should be expected, however, make sure you do not to totally price yourself out of the game. Another way to ensure a healthy profit is to create a good balance of expensive and inexpensive product items in your menu.
Food cost refers to the menu price of a certain dish in comparison to the cost of the food used to prepare that same dish. In other words, how much you pay for food will determine how much you need to charge for it. Generally, food cost should be around 30-35%. This means that if you pay $1.00 for something, you need to charge minimum of at least $3.30. It may seem like you are charging a lot more than necessary, but keep in mind that you aren't just paying for the food itself. You are paying someone to prepare the food, serve the food, and clean up after the food. Everything in your restaurant, from the payroll to the electricity needs to be covered by the food you serve. With Carbon Tax only months away what implications doe this hold for your profitability?
One reason that chain restaurants are so successful is that they have such great control when it comes to portion controls. The cooks in these restaurants know exactly how much of each ingredient to put in every dish every time. Many good Chefs will continually weigh portions to calibrate their own senses over and over again.
Practice portion control in your own kitchen, everything should be measured out. Chicken, beef and fish should all be weighed, whilst the shredded cheese can be stored in portion control cups and a measuring cup or scoop can dish out mashed potatoes. Once you feel comfortable cooking your menu, you can then begin to eyeball the serving amounts. In the early stages of your restaurant, be very cautious and measure everything out. Another way to practice portion control is to purchase pre-portioned items, such as steaks, burger patties and chicken breasts.
There is a Chefs ladle for almost every conceivable size all plainly labeled and easy to read. Do you have a one size all philosophy; if you do then you seriously need to look at managing your portion control more effectively.
Most of these pre-prepped items may be a little more expensive, but they can possibly save you money in labour and potential food waste. It is worth considering obvious the benefits of offsite prepared items. A higher costed food item may in fact save you hours of tedious preparation time. These products are usually more consistently prepared resulting in a menu that remains constant in its makeup. Many business owners have found themselves on the end of a tongue lashing from the most astute customer that has noticed that that the quality of the sauce or garnish was not up to their expectations on one occasion having dined there three times in the past month. Remember the old axiom: the customer is always the best judge of the quality and level of service you have provided.
In addition to maintaining quality a pre-prepped item it can be like having an extra pair of hands hiding out back when you need them the most. Many of the larger Quick Service Restaurant chains such as McDonalds have all their raw items prepared in bulk and always off site. Naturally with their volume they can effectively control the price to some extent.
Another good reason for buying in prepared components is the packaging they arrive in is almost always very safe and suitable for storage. In addition this packaging contains use-by dates and with a label from the manufacturer you are then very compliant with regard to local Council Environmental and Health regulations.
Many business owners fail in their obligations to correctly label the prepped items with the required details; prepared by, prepared on date and use by date. Some in fact have no real idea as to the secondary shelf life or use by date once a product has been prepared. Once again a professionally prepped labeled and packaged prepared item has a “Use Thru” date clearly marked removing all doubt.
Most of these off site prepared products will have batch number in addition to all the other details they might display. This enables the supplier to keep control over quality and above all in the unlikely event of a “food safety” concern recall only those batches or containers.
Abcom’s eProphet.NET with its powerful Inventory system utilizes a comprehensive Recipe and Raw Stock items data base of your current recipe items. Every time a new delivery enters the inventory system with a new price the eProphet.NET automatically adjusts the raw item portion cost and in turn the plated cost of every Menu item instantaneously. See the affects of a price increase or decrease in real time as it occurs. With eProphet.NET’s comprehensive features you can then apply any significant changes in raw product and recipe items retrospectively to fully gauge the outcome of a price fluctuation or price increase.
eProphet.NET reduces portions down to any size you chose to measure or portion by, the most common being grams and milliliters. Working with these predetermined portion control amounts you can build recipes up gram by gram and cent by cent. Plated items and beverage items can be built up like “Lego blocks” allowing for total control and awareness of precise costing's based on the most up to date invoiced costs.
With eProphet.NET you have the ability to modify the individual recipe components and costing's within the recipe maintenance interface screen. Commodity prices are always on the rise. World events can have the most adverse and almost an immediate effect on your food costs. Fuel will continue to increase in leaps and bounds and sure enough so will distribution costs and in turn the plated costs of your finished products.
Imagine using a comprehensive system that allows you to increase or decrease portions add or remove components and have the ability in real time to view the continual and changing plated cost price and food cost percentages with these very changes.
Preparing a well Balanced Menu:
The food markets fluctuate depending on the season, the weather and the especially with the price of fuel. One day lettuce may be $10.00 a case and then the following week it has jumped to over $30.00 a case. There is very little you can do when prices jump, short of changing your entire menu every few weeks, and who has time for that? However, when you balance expensive items, which are prone to price fluctuations, with items that have stable prices, you can help maintain your desired food cost. So, go ahead and have some fresh lobster and beef on your menu, but offer it with some less expensively priced chicken dishes or pasta dishes.