Tips on restaurant purchasing

For restaurant manager it can be a nightmare trying to estimate the demand, and hence quantity of ingredients needed, for each dish on the menu. The total value of the food thrown away every week would be enough send a homeless person on a round-the-world cruise.

Why not institutionalize a hands-on system which lets you keep a tally of each dish ordered? Tack a printed sheet of paper on the wall with a list of all the options on the menu, leaving space on your word template to hand-write the variable options like Dish of the Day. Incentivise staff to enter a tally for each order they collect. Make it into a competition by issuing them with different colored pens so you can see who has left the most tallies, with a small rotatable prize like a giant inflatable trophy – or something chocolate-based – for the most prolific record-keeper. If nothing else this could shift the pace of service into higher gear.

At the end of every day enter the total for each dish into an Excel spreadsheet in the column for that week, with the function “= PREVIOUS TOTAL (e.g.24)  + DAY’S TOTAL (e.g.13)”. At the end of every month, an additional column would contain the mean number of each dishes ordered a week. This function would read “=AVG (SELECT CELL RANGE e.g. B3:E23)”. Monthly averages could be extended into quarterly averages, which would help you determine which dishes are more popular on a seasonal basis. No doubt there would be variation between summer, when salads are in vogue, and winter when punters crave a warming soup or stew.

The average number ordered for each month would give you an idea of how many ingredients to budget for, in that specific month, and this historic data could be adjusted according to any fluctuation in customer numbers – which you would soon pick up on, because your daily tally count at the beginning of that month next year would be lower.

Additionally of course you should try to adjust your menu to showcase the ingredients that are in season: in winter, root vegetables like parsnips and swede, broccoli, savoy cabbage, and the inimitable brussel sprouts which lend themselves to daring taste combinations. In summer, the light and zesty celery is readily available, as are juicy courgettes, beetroot, aubergine, peppers, sugarsnap peas, and tangy watercress which merits more exposure than it currently receives.

If all else fails, simply scale down your portion sizes and increase their side vegetable or salad allotment. Turn this rationing measure into an asset by trumpeting the dish’s low calorie count in a separate menu column. It’s easy to work out if you weigh each component part, and calculate using the calories for 100g given on the packaging. This handy nutritional information will act as a magnet for the health-conscious, or any weight-watcher who likes to keep track of their calorific intake.


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