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Keeping Food Costs Low in the Face of Extreme Conditions

By: Nicole Reed, Communications Manager, MenuMax

The last few months have delivered tremendous weather across the world. Dubbed “Stormageddon” by media channels, the recent rash of extreme weather should have those in the foodservice industry keeping a close eye on food costs. According to newly released United Nations data, world food prices continued to rise throughout December and are on track to reach record highs set during the world food crisis of 2008.

Here is the U.S., severe cold weather has paralyzed grain and livestock industries, and with more cold weather on the horizon there is concern regarding wheat crops. In order to cope with rising food costs, many companies are raising prices of their products to offset the higher cost of ingredients.

Raising menu prices can result in unhappy customers. Many people have cut back on dining out, and a higher dinner bill could persuade them to stop coming back. In order to keep your prices down I offer a few suggestions.

Invest in proper organizational tools.

Having the proper back of house tools to keep your supplies in order will save you a headache. There are applications available that simplify and compartmentalize many of your daily operational tasks. For example, with MenuMax you are able to organize your recipes, plan menus, calculate food cost, and receive the most accurate nutritional information available based on your unique recipes. Programs like MenuMax allow users to access resources, and complete multiple tasks from one easy to use platform so you are spending less time on operational tasks and more time in the kitchen.

Spend time planning your week.

In order to keep food waste at a minimum it is imperative to plan. By ordering the right amount of product for a set number of dinner services you will be less inclined to waste.  MenuMax calculates the amount of money spent on each of your recipes so you can rest easy knowing your dollars are wisely spent and not feeding the trash bin.

Consider a creative reconstruction of your menu.

During uncertain economic periods it is imperative that restaurants change with the times. Instead of raising your prices to compensate for that expensive cut of meat, try reworking the recipe to use a less expensive cut, or substitute more produce into the dish. Another great way to save is to incorporate local seasonal produce into your dishes instead of importing expensive out of season fruits and vegetables. Not only will you be satisfying your customer by not raising prices, but your till will be full as well.

With some creative thinking and a little planning it is possible to come up with many solutions to the rising cost of food. By investing in the right tools, planning out your menus, and reworking your dishes it is possible to keep prices down and customers happy. Can you think of any other ways restaurants can keep prices down? We would like to hear them.

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