Developing your very first Menu!

(11 /06 /2015)

Firstly, congratulations – it’s a great step when you first get to develop a menu that reflects what you want to create but how do you keep it realistic?  There are couple of things that I would look at:

  • Ensure you outline the costings from the beginning – it may seem over kill but you are doing the kitchen a real favour in costing the menu as it will set the portion size and set the gross profit of the menu.
  • Create the dishes for the menu being mindful of the type of guests you serve – don’t serve high end expensive ingredients if your café is known for its big portion sizes and lunch specials.
  • Set you food cost target. 33% is the industry average, but you can set lower percentages on certain dishes as some are low cost items to make.  Once you cost a recipe and you can see you may be able to charge more; simply lower your food cost % to come up with a price you feel it will actually sell at.
  • Create the recipe itemizing the ingredients required including the measurements. The measurements will be your portion size – this needs to be consistently followed. This will include any garnishes and non-food items such as tooth picks, doylies if needed and even salt & pepper, I also include a set price to cover items such as glad wrap and foil which are classed as disposables.
  • From your suppliers obtain up to date costs of all the ingredients used. It is no good to use ingredients cost from 2 month ago as they are likely to be outdated.
  • Work out how many portions that recipe is for.  As a general rule I like to make a recipe for 10 portions, it is easier to calculate the cost of the ingredients.
  • Using your measurements of the ingredients needed for each dish, work out the cost from your price list.
  • Continue this process with all the remaining ingredients.
  • You will now have a total cost of that menu item and using your food cost % you now can put a sales price to it, remembering that some items can be sold for a higher price than you calculations shows.
  • Create the recipe cards for the kitchen showing the quantities ( measurements) required for each dishes portion size, which needs to be followed otherwise the costing will not be correct.
  • Now that the sale prices are done you need to remember that it doesn’t stop there. I like to review my costings on a weekly basis as cost of ingredients fluctuate and will affect our food cost margins every day, so you will need to stay vigilant to keep ahead of that food cost gremlin.
  • There are menu costing tools online which help with this process, as well as apps.  Find what best suits your needs.  I am happy to talk you through the app we use.

Hope this has been helpful.


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