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Controlling Food Cost in the Restaurant

Controlling Food Cost in the Restaurant

Food cost is one of the highest costs in the restaurant. In order to keep food cost percentage, also known as Cost of Goods Sold (COGS) at a manageable rate, follow these tips:

1. Keep an eye on your profits and losses (P&L).
When you know what profits you are bringing in as well as the fixed expenses affecting your business, you can better evaluate your options and see where you can cut costs. » Learn More

2. Conduct inventory consistently.
Regular and thorough inventory counts will help you stay in control of your usage and the costs associated. This is especially important for high-cost items such as meat and liquor. » Learn More

3. Price menu items properly.
When you price your menu items reasonably, your customers will continue to pay you and you will make a profit on your products. » Learn More

4. Portion food correctly.
Be sure to serve food in portions that will not over- or under-fill plates. When customers are finished eating, look at the plates as they come back to the kitchen. If there is a lot left on the plate, or you are consistently wrapping up take-home containers, you may be over-portioning your meals.

5. Handle food properly.
Enforce first-in, first-out (FIFO) rotation for all perishable foods. Keep foods at proper temperatures and cook all foods correctly to avoid waste and prevent contamination. » Learn More 

6. Rethink the garnish.
Garnishes often consist of fancy fruits or layers of fresh lettuce which add visual appeal but are rarely eaten. Use less expensive food items or remove garnishes entirely to save on food costs.

7. Keep a record of all food waste.
Use a waste chart to write down any foods that are made incorrectly, thrown away or spilled. Failing to record this "usage" will skew inventory reports and throw off your food cost percentage.

8. Be consistent with food purchases.
Consistency with food purchases comes with time but can help you to anticipate expenses from week to week and keep your food costs steady. » Learn More

9. Create a rapport with suppliers.
Once you are in business a while, your suppliers will get to know your regular food orders and you will become familiar with the cost of your purchased goods. Be sure you stay in communication with your suppliers in case of any problems with food quality or any issues with food prices. » Learn More

10. Train employees to care.
When your employees see how your inventory represents potential profits—as well as their paychecks—they are more apt to stay aware of waste, portioning and overall food quality.