One of the most challenging aspects of the restaurant business is purchasing the right food products necessary to create the best dishes possible for your guests. The biggest priority with food in every situation and at every station in the kitchen is avoiding waste, but there are also price and quality considerations that enter into the equation. Also, the biggest threat of financial loss and damage for a restaurant is at the stage of purchasing raw ingredients and other perishable food materials. That is why learning how to improve food purchasing is so critical, and it is an ongoing education. The purpose of this blog is to give you five easy, simple food purchasing tips to make buying your restaurant’s food a snap.
Get the Best Quality for the Best Price
This concept is simple, but it seems to be one of the most difficult decisions restaurant managers face. No one expects you to magically know or take a lucky guess as to what food purveyor will give you the best quality salmon for the best price, but that is why you never purchase from a single purveyor and have a bidding system. If you concede to either getting the best price or the best quality, then you have compromised the financials of your business. Representatives from food purveyor companies often develop friendships with managers, but you have to remember they are salespeople. Your restaurant should have a bidding system set up where several purveyors are trying to offer you great products because getting all your products at the cheapest price means nothing if they are low quality and result in low quality dishes. Low quality dishes will cause the patrons to abandon the restaurant and it will go under.
Never Purchase More Than What You Need
This tip leans more towards common sense, but if you are a new, inexperienced manager, you might panic based on a high numbers from the previous year’s special event or busy week. Also, you may not know what to expect if the restaurant is in its first year, so it is a valid tip and deserves to be highlighted. There are several reasons as to why you should not buy raw material and food products in massive quantities, and raw food products. The fresh produce should especially be under great scrutiny, and it should be ordered as precisely as possible for the following reasons:
- There is a risk of your product spoiling, especially raw produce and partially cooked items for expected busy evening services.
- If the product is nearing expiration, then you will have to sell it at a discounted price, or the entire thing will go to waste with no financial recovery.
- You are more likely to neglect the fresher products because you will be scrambling to get the oldest ones out first, so if you forget about them, you will get into a habit of poor rotation. This will lead you to be at fault for more widespread waste.
- Storage and detection is harder in a freezer, cooler and dry storage all beyond full, which will make theft by employees simple.
Keep an Organized Grocery List
Make a list prior to giving it to your vendor and always get a receipt. Making a list instead of going by memory verifies the entire list was delivered and in a timely manner. Never accept damaged food, late deliveries, and double check the prices. You have to make you have not paid more than what was listed as the sale price. In case of confusion or habitual problems, speak to your vendor.
Purchase a Food Service Scale
Purchasing a food service scale for the floor is a wise investment and will probably pay for itself. There are several purposes for one, but the main one is make sure weight of the amount of product delivered matches the weight you ordered. Sometimes honest vendors make mistakes, and sometimes vendors skimp on purpose. Always have one of your most meticulous, trustworthy employees present to check deliveries in and properly store using the FIFO method in case you are indisposed.
Do Proper Research Before Experimenting on a New Menu or New Menu Items
A lot of restaurants frequently add new menu items to replace ones that are not selling, and many also change over menus several times a year to reflect the change in seasons or as a gimmick. If you decide to do this, then it could pay off, but it requires extensive research. New menu items usually mean you will have to purchase new products. First, you have to cost out the recipe for each serving. Next, you need to get some background from your customers either from surveys after their meals, social media or newsletters via email. Finally, run a new item or two briefly as specials to see how they fare. Just because a product or new dish appeals to you does not mean it will appeal to your customers.
Just making a few positive changes listed above in your purchasing and cost control system can be an immense help and keep loss minimal. Staying organized and not making procedures too complicated will help you make your food purchases a snap. Finally, consider getting certified yourself or hiring a professional Food Handler to ensure your food purchasing is secure and tips are followed.