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5 ways for restaurants to manage or reduce their unexpected expenses

Photograph: Shutterstock

In the foodservice industry, the value of “more” can be very circumstantial. More customers and more sales are good things, obviously, while more food waste is not. And yet, many managers believe that increased food waste is a natural part of doing more business.

It doesn’t have to be.

Reducing unnecessary waste in food costs will reduce the overall unexpected expenses and benefit the bottom line. And while there’s no one sure-fire way to control this cost, there are  several ways for restaurants to reduce their food expenses at every turn.

1. Price tracking

Gasoline isn’t the only commodity that fluctuates in price. Foodservice managers also see noticeable shifts in the prices of fruits, vegetables and meats throughout the course of the year or from one year to the next. Yet most do little about them. Instead, operators should take a proactive stance by looking at past expense reports to determine what a “good price” for these items is. Then, when one appears, buy in bulk and feature these items more heavily on the menu. When prices are higher, reduce the order and showcase other food options.

2. Reduce waste where possible

Reductions in food waste extend beyond instituting proper portioning and effective product rotation—though these are certainly important. To take the next step requires a comprehensive review of a restaurant’s capital equipment. Take the oil management system, for example. Many managers put off cleaning their oil because the job is messy and dangerous. The result? Wasted product lost to dirty oil. Instead, being proactive and instituting a Total Oil Management system solution ensures oil is always clean without taking excess staff time. The kitchen will be cleaner, the staff safer and the product waste reduced.

3. Purchase products to match restaurant needs

The food restaurants purchase should match the job, yet many foodservice managers buy grade-A products for use in solutions that don’t merit the choice. Grade-A solutions are often based on appearance, and that matters little in cases such as tomatoes for pico de gallo or avocados for guacamole. Buy materials commensurate with their needs and restaurants will save money on unnecessary expenses.

4. Order aggressively

Some food waste can be alleviated simply by getting more aggressive in ordering strategy. A comprehensive review of previous ordering and food usage reports should show where food waste is most common and help operators recognize areas where ordering can be reduced. From there, operators shouldn’t be afraid to shift the balance of same-old, same-old and employ new ordering strategies. Finding a local vendor may allow restaurants to order smaller quantities more often so they’re not wasting money “stocking up” on bulk orders. Operators can also pursue growing a garden on the property if space allows. This will allow restaurants to significantly reduce their produce expense and market the freshness of menu offerings.

5. Recognize it takes a total team effort

Successfully reducing food waste and ultimately food expenses requires the dedication of not only everyone in the kitchen but the front-of -house staff as well. Many foodservice operations have front-of- -house staff prepare simple dishes such as salads or desserts and these individuals may need proper portion training to ensure food waste is limited. Even plate garnish expenses can climb quickly if the product is overused. Secondly, waitstaff can be a powerful ally in helping the kitchen move product at opportune times. Instruct waitstaff to recommend certain items to guests and the product will sell faster. 

Learn more about how Restaurant Technologies can help manage unexpected expenses with automated solutions for safer, smarter kitchens.


This post is sponsored by Restaurant Technologies

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