Restaurant staff working out costs

Food Cost Control

When referring to food cost, we are referring to the actual cost of the raw materials or ingredients required to prepare a meal or menu item that you are selling from your establishment. Food cost percentage will be the same cost expressed as a percentage of the selling price of that specific item.  

The following are some factors that may contribute to the food cost:

  • Item cost, correct delivery pricing.
  • Availability.
  • Seasonality.
  • Consistency.
  • Repetition.
  • Yield.
  • Cold chain.
  • Portion Control.
  • Manufacturing practices.
  • Stock handling by staff.
  • Checking in of deliveries.
  • Invoicing details checked.
  • Capture incorrect information.
  • Cross-contamination.
  • First in First out [FIFO]
  • Hygiene practices.
  • Correct chemical usage.

Clear and detailed communication between management, suppliers, and production staff is imperative to control the cost of sales. If there are specific details to be mindful of communicating with each other through your ordering diary and ensure to make notes on invoices if there are discrepancies or if you are unsure of the details.

E-mail suppliers immediately to ensure a paper trail and proof of problems regarding deliveries or quality of products delivered to your store.

Portion control and actual consistent portion weights are to be recorded and checked during production to ensure that you do not over or under portion to ensure that you achieve the goal cost of sales. Checking your control sheets daily and following up on discrepancies on the variance sheets could point you to where there are potential problems in your in-house ecosystem.

Consistency and the consistent repetition of the correct manufacturing habits are key to success. If you become tired of doing the same thing over and over you might be in the wrong space. Once you have established the replicable working habits for your staff you will find that your food costs will become stabilized

Investigate your waste daily. Walk through the bin area and look at what is in the bins and what is discarded. Understand the causes of waste. 

The daily systems and procedures that are implemented in your business will directly impact the cost of the item:

  • Stock rotation.
  • Portion control.
  • Control sheets.
  • Temperature control.
  • Equipment checks.
  • Manufacturing methods.
  • Regular training.
  • Dates on products.
  • Overstocking of fridges.
  • Run specials on slow-moving items.

Point of sale systems is there to ensure that only items that are sold are used.  

  • No slip, no food.
  • Only make to order.
  • Preparation instructions.
  • Write down orders.
  • Read back of orders.

Zero tolerance rules should be applied during the food cost and cost control system and procedure to avoid areas of uncertainty. Staff members working with food has to understand the direct impact of their labour on the financial success of the restaurant they work in.

Marius Joubert
Author: Marius Joubert

Founder of the first true community for the restaurant and hospitality industry.

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