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Tackling the ‘cost issue’ one healthy ingredient at a time

By Katya Baxter,  Nutritionist, MenuMax

Whenever I speak to chefs, the one subject that always comes up is cost. Yes, being able to prepare healthy dishes is important. But, the hard reality is: nutritious ingredients cost more.  And, as a result, they are often left out of recipes and menus.  While cost is certainly a valid concern, there are creative ways to prepare nutritious meals while keeping costs under control.

Echoing some of the concepts I described in my previous post, I believe there are several ways to tackle the cost issue.

First, let’s go back to our concept of ‘balancing the plate from a less-is-more’ perspective. Here, we looked at 1) reducing saturated fats and portion sizes of animal protein, especially of red meat; 2) increasing the use of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, plant oils, and herbs and spices given all their tantalizing qualities; 3) reducing portion sizes.

How does each one of these actions affect our costs?

  1. Smaller portions of animal protein yields better health and lower cost.
  2. Reduced portion size – ditto.
  3. Increased use of plant foods – will likely balance out #1 and #2 depending on the distributor; it also provides all kinds of great nutrition.

Your cost: either stays the same or is increased by a small margin depending on the season, waste management factor, distributor or other similar factors. In the meantime, you can confidently stand by a menu that is not only healthy but also tastes great.

How can we keep track of our costs while balancing the plate from a less-is-more perspective? Just plug your recipes and menus into the MenuMax nutrition and cost analysis tool. You will get a quick feel for both, the ‘healthy’ factor of your dish or menu as well as the costs. This is what it looks like:

Nutritional Analysis:

Cost per recipe/serving:

In case your nutrition objectives are not fully met, remember you can always adjust the ingredients and portion sizes. Fast and simple.

The bottom line is you don’t have to revamp your entire inventory or menu all at once; introducing one ‘less-is-more’ principle at a time while keeping a close eye on your costs is a viable way to build a solid offering that leaves your customers energized and hungry for more!

I look forward to your comments and ideas. See you next week!

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