Controlling Food Costs

restaurant management & supplies
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Controlling food costs starts with inventory organization and control. Over and over we have found that reducing inventory levels and organizing food storage areas will significantly reduce food costs. It is a simple axiom: When you have excess and disorganization you have waste.

THE BEST GUESS INVENTORY/ORDER SYSTEM

This system works best when your chef/kitchen manager has been able convince you that ordering is a complex procedure that you the manager/owner should not get involved in. Only someone with his/her many years of experience can understand the obscure secrets of food purchasing. The system works like this: There you are: Inadequate side station stocking and poor food storage organization caused a panic in the middle of the lunch rush resulting in a panic purchase of excess inventory, without checking prices, which resulted in overstocking and spoilage.

The really scary part is that this is standard operating procedure for many restaurants.

HELPFUL HINT

In many instances we have eliminated 20% to 50% of the shelves and storage areas to encourage the kitchen to keep their inventory lean and mean. In some cases of extreme overstocking this alone has resulted in reducing food costs by more than 10%.

A rule of thumb we have found to work well is: Order to bring your inventory up to a two order period par level. That is: If you order an item daily, such as produce, order enough to have a two day supply including the inventory you have on hand. If you order dry stores weekly, subtract the inventory you have on hand from what you expect to use over the next two weeks and order the difference.

With this simple concept you should never run out of product, and never have more than a two order period inventory on hand. Check out the inventory/order system chapter for details.

FOOD STORAGE

While state Health Departments have gotten tougher in this area, many restaurants still loose product to freezer burn, contamination and spoilage because of improper storage procedures. Even worse are those restaurants who loose customers because they serve less than fresh meals.

Want to know what improper storage is costing you?

PORTION CONTROL

Advance preparation can have a critical impact on food costs. Just as you would not stop to drain the swamp when the alligators are nipping at your butt, your cooks will not worry about portion control when deluged with orders during a rush.

Advance preparation and portioning not only saves food cost dollars, it also results in a more efficient kitchen, with a more consistent product and faster service to your customers.

Helpful Hint: A quick check of the previous weeks menu score provides a good guide as to how much to prep for a given day and meal period.

PURVEYOR SHOPPING

Regularly scheduled requests for bids/quotes from both your current suppliers and new suppliers can loop some more off your food costs. This is an area where you can delegate, up to a point.

THE LOWLY DISHWASHER

Being the lowest in the pecking order in a restaurant, the dishwasher's potential for profit maximizing is often overlooked. More than anyone else he/she can tell you what is coming back from your dining room. How much of your food costs are going into the trash because of excessive portions or just because customers do not like an entree, vegetable or condiment?

Changing a garnish, eliminating a vegetable or reducing a portion may allow you to reduce the menu price, making you more price competitive with the same profit.

THE BACK DOOR

The back door is where a good portion your profits can go, if you let it.

HOW TO MAKE IT ALL WORKABLE

Just like everything else in your restaurant, you are the key to making food cost control work. We favor the two person spot check and prosecute method.

The Two person check:

The spot check: The prosecution:

A COUPLE TRICKS TO REDUCE BREAKAGE AND SPOILAGE

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