No matter where you go, restaurant owners and managers are forever frustrated with the constantly rising cost of food. With tight profit margins and high levels of competition, there is no doubt that restaurants need to control food costs and one of the best ways to do that (outside of yelling in frustration at your distributor) is to use a portion control system.
You may have heard of portion control systems or even tried it in your kitchen, but if you’re still wondering why and how you can get on board to ensure food costs don’t get out of hand, read on…
Three simple reasons WHY you need to control portions:
1. To Control Your Food Costs
Let’s say your kitchen runs at a 30 per cent food cost across the board. Then your chefs over portion by 10 per cent, you will raise your overall food cost to 33 per cent. You’re losing money, and in the long run it can equate to a lot of money! Even a slight (but consistent) over-portion can create an imbalance and affect your margins.
2. To Reduce Your Waste
If your portions are too big, and leftover food is being sent back by the customer at the end of the meal, this is pure waste and profit in the bin. Using portion control helps eliminate this problem.
3. To Maintain Consistency
Consider when you go to your favourite fast food chain. One of the reasons they are so successful is they manage to make their products incredibly consistent. This means customers know exactly what they will get, and the managers know exactly how much it will cost to make. Using this same theory in your venue not only means you will have very satisfied customers who know what to expect when they re-order their favourite menu item, but it will also keep food costs consistent and predictable.
So HOW do you do it?
1. Standardise your recipes
This is pretty vital to the success of any restaurant or café, and it’s not ground-breaking stuff. You’ll need to set a standard recipe with instructions and quantity of ingredients to use. This allows you to know how many people can be served one dish before you run out of produce.
You probably have written standard recipes but we recommend taking pictures so that chefs can check at a glance if they are over or under-portioning.
2. Have the right utensils
The most important part of portion control (and the easiest to implement) is using the right measuring tools. We’re talking cups, spoons, ladles or even scoops and scales where necessary.
3. Train your staff
All of these tips will go to waste if your kitchen staff isn’t on board. Make sure you train your staff to use standard recipes and measure the food for each serve to keep the quantity in check. This can get tricky when experienced chefs want to do it ‘their way’ so finding a middle ground where they are happy with the end product and you’re happy with the portion size is important.
4. Consider your purchases
Your portion control efforts don’t just happen in the kitchen, it all begins with the food you are ordering each week. Make sure you order the right type of products (and the correct quantity) for the number of portions it will give. It might be worth also considering purchasing part-prepared options (like Speedibake’s pre-baked bread or Golden Pancakes). They may be more expensive on paper but they will save you in labour costs and raw material storage space.
Portion control is probably the most vital aspect of cost control in foodservice venues and often ultimately decide on the success of a restaurant or café. Just like with any system, it will take some time and effort to get working smoothly and to hold your kitchen accountable, but once you have a portion control system in place your bottom line with thank you.