There over one million restaurants in the United States, with over 14 million employees. However, no matter the size or scope of these establishments, each one has to deal with one main issue: food cost. Food cost is the amount of total restaurant sales spent on food product. To calculate the cost, you divide your net food purchases by your net food sales.

Ideally, every restaurant wants to keep this number at 30%. If you can get it lower, then that’s even better. But how exactly do restaurants control this cost? What can they do to ensure their number is the best it can be?

fresh produce and money

Read on to discover four important tips restaurants should follow to help control food cost.

Track Food Cost and Inventory

One of the simplest ways of controlling cost is by keeping track of it.

Look over your numbers every day and see how certain weeks compare to others. If you always have an idea or estimate of how you’re supposed to be doing, you’ll be able to keep an eye out for any major issues. By keeping track like this, you can figure out if something’s not working at your restaurant or if you’re just having an off month. After that, make adjustments accordingly.

Also, run inventories on specific products when necessary, whether that’s daily or weekly. It’s important to know how quickly you go through certain items.

Only Order the Essentials

Food prices are always fluctuating. 2017 saw sharp price declines during the summer months followed by increases of over 3% in the fall.

Since costs are always changing, it’s important to stick to only the essentials when you place food orders. Know what you need and get it. It’s that simple.

Also, if possible, buy certain items in bulk, which will cut down on the number of purchases you need to make and the total amount of money you’ll be spending.

Portion Size

Portion size may not be at the forefront of your mind when it comes to cost, but it should be. Sometimes, it’s the littlest of details that comes with the biggest price tag. That’s why it’s important to make sure that your staff understands that an ounce difference in a meat dish is a big deal. They can use tools like checkweighers and digital scales to confirm this information.

It’s not only key that portion sizes remain the same to provide consistency for your customers, but also so that your restaurant can remain profitable.

Limit Waste

If your restaurant is spending a lot of money on high-quality food, try not to waste a single item.

Encourage your chefs to look at each type of food as an invaluable piece of a much larger puzzle. No piece can go missing. Every piece must be used.

Even if your chefs are only left with scraps of food or with multiple ingredients that don’t seem to fit together, tell them that it’s no excuse. They need to be creative.

Going Forward

In order to keep food cost for your restaurant at a steady and reasonable rate, keep these factors in mind moving forward. Every one of these techniques, no matter how small it may seem, plays a significant role in how you manage and maintain the effectiveness of your restaurant.

Do you have any other questions or concerns we can address for you? If so, please contact us so we can help!