Do you run a restaurant and want to reduce food waste? If YES, here are 20 best cost saving tips on how to lower food cost in your restaurant successfully.

Being in business means making profits and in order to make profits, you must be willing to do all that you can to cut cost. No business will continue to make marginal profits if they are not deliberate in ensuring that their operational cost is reduced to the barest minimum.

In this article, we will be looking at practical tips that will help you lower food cost in your restaurant, and if you can succeed in bringing down the cost of food in your restaurant, you will indeed continue to smile to the bank. So, if you are interested in lowering food cost in your restaurant business, here are 20 practical tips that you can work with to achieve your goal.

20 Tips on How to Lower Food Cost in your Restaurant

  1. Purchase Only Perishable Food Stuff and Ingredients That You Need Per Time

In order to avoid food wastage, spoilage and over portioning, one of the things you need to do is to only purchase the food stuffs and ingredients that you would need per time. This particularly important for food stuffs and ingredients that are perishable.

What is the use of buying more than needed perishable food stuffs and ingredients because they are cheap only for them to get spoilt because you don’t have immediate need for them? So, if you are able to purchase only the food stuffs and ingredients that you need per time, you would have succeeded in lowering food cost in your restaurant.

  1. Maximize The Usage of Your Food Ingredients and Other Resources

Another tip that is needed to lower food cost in your restaurant is to make sure that you maximize the usage of food stuffs, food ingredients and other products. If you don’t maximize the usage of these items, you will end up throwing some stuffs that are needed into the trash.

  1. Minimize The Freebies That You Dish Out

Minimizing the freebies that you dish out in your restaurant is another sure way to lower the cost of food in your restaurant and also avoid wastage. In some restaurants, it is the practice for them to serve free bread, chips, chicken sauce and water to their customers.

If you practice this in your restaurant, all you need to do to lower the cost of food in your restaurant is to minimize these freebies. The truth is that some people do not usually finish these freebies hence it will lead to wastage and higher cost of food in your restaurant.

  1. Substitute Plastic ware with Glassware

Lowering the cost of food in your restaurant could be via direct approach or indirect approach and one of the indirect approaches you can take is to substitute plastic ware with glassware were necessary. The truth is that making use of disposable tableware, cups, and on other utensils can be expensive than a one-time investment in washable silverware, plates, and glasses. As a matter of fact, using glassware as against plastic ware will help, and garbage waste will decrease.

  1. Enforce Control on Portions

Enforcing control on portions is one of the ways of lowering food cost in your restaurant. As a matter of fact, portion control is a major strategy that most operators of restaurants leverage on to reduce cost of food. Come to think of it, if you do not control portions in your restaurant, you will observe that you will have more leftovers than restaurants that are enforcing control on their portions.

  1. Make Use of Energy-Efficient Light Bulbs

The fact that the cost of food in a restaurant depends on a lot of factors means that if you cut the cost of one or more stuffs in your expense list, it can help you lower food cost in your restaurant. So one of the tips that can help you lower the cost of food in your restaurant is to make use of energy-efficient light bulbs which ultimately will help you cut down on some expenses in running your restaurant.

  1. Make Use of Energy-Efficient Appliances

Did you know that energy-efficient appliances can actually save your restaurant a great deal of money in the long run? As a matter of fact, in the united states of America, several states offer tax-credits and other incentives for restaurants that switch to energy-efficient appliances, so make sure you check out what is available in your state.

So, if you are looking for tips on how to lower food cost in your restaurant, then you should make use of energy – efficient appliances such as fridge, deep freezers, electronics, air conditioners and other kitchen gadgets.

  1. Go for Fairly Used Appliances

Another tip that you may want to adopt when lowering cost of food in your restaurant is to go for fairly used electronics and kitchen appliances if you know that it will give you almost same value with new ones. The truth is that if you minimized the amount you spent on your appliances, it will indirectly help you lower food cost in your restaurant.

  1. Block Financial Leakages

Blocking financial leakages in your restaurant is yet another sure way of lowering food cost in the restaurant. This is so because if you can successfully block financial leakages, you will have more money to spend and to save hence you won’t be under any pressure to increase the cost of food in your restaurant in the bid to meet the running cost of the restaurant and of course make profits.

Part of what you need to do to block financial leakages in your restaurant is to encourage cashless transactions. Encourage customers to pay via POS machines, mobile money and via internet transfer et al. With that, you will be able to account for the money generated in the restaurant per day.

  1. Buy Non-Perishable Food Stuffs and Ingredients in Large Quantities

In as much as you are not expected to buy perishable food stuffs and ingredients in large quantities, you are expected to buy non-perishable food stuffs and ingredients in large quantities; from wholesale stores. The drill is that, the larger the quantity of food stuffs you buy, the lower the unit cost and this is called economy of scales.

For example, if you buy bags of rice or beans as against buying some measures, you will have succeeded in saving cost and that ultimately will help you lower the cost of food in your restaurant.

  1. Concentrate on Preparing and Selling the Food That is Requested the Most

Another practical tip that you should consider if you are looking towards lowering the cost of food in your restaurant is to concentrate more on the food that is requested the most in your restaurant. For example, if rice and stew is the food that is requested the most from your restaurant and beans and stew is the food that is requested the least in your restaurant, it will pay you to prepare more quantity of rice and stew and lower quantity of beans.

If you do otherwise, you will end up having more leftovers that will end up in the trash bin and that will in turn impact negatively on the cost of food in your restaurant because the wastage will reduce your profit margin. Focus on selling your highest gross profit menu items regardless of food cost.

  1. Make Use of Proper Accounting Software

Another sure fire tip that is needed if you want to lower the cost of food in your restaurant is to make use of proper accounting software to track income and expenditure in your restaurant. The truth is that is you are able to track income and expenditure, you will be able to note the areas where you spend the more and with little adjustment, you can balance things out and ultimately lower the cost of food in your restaurant.

What proper accounting software will do for you is to help you calculate and report on your cost of sales and labor cost every week.

The truth is that your biggest and most volatile costs are food, beverage and labor costs. When these costs are added together are referred to as a restaurant’s prime cost and the most profitable restaurants in the industry know their prime cost at the end of every week.

  1. Enforce Proper Security on Your Store Room

The fact that you store food stuffs, ingredients and drinks in your store room and perhaps other unused and replaceable gadgets means that these items can get missing if proper security measure is not in place. The truth is that you cannot rule out having some kleptomaniac staff working for you hence the need to secure your store room. This method will help you reduce theft and unrecorded sales. The effect of this is that overtime, it will help you lower the cost of food in your restaurant.

  1. Hire Fewer Full – Time Staff and More Part – Time/Contract Staff

If you can successfully cut down on your running cost, you will be able to lower the cost of food in your restaurant and one of the ways you can cut running cost in your restaurant is to make sure that you only hire fewer full – time staff and more part – time or contract staff.

As a matter of fact, a good percent of restaurants find that having at least one-third to one-half of their staff as part-timers helps in achieving comfortable yet affordable staffing which in turn will help lower the cost of their food.

  1. Filter and Change Frying Oil Regularly

Another means of lowering food cost in a restaurant is to ensure that you filter frying oil every shift and also change fry oil weekly. Although, initially it might look as though it is expensive changing your frying oil on a regular basis, but in the long run it is far cheaper and cost effective.

If you operate a restaurant that sells a lot of fried items such as fish, plantain, seafood, French fries or appetizers, please note that keeping your frying oil clean and fresh will not only enhances the flavor and taste of the food, but it will also prolong the useful life and therefore helps in controlling the cost.

  1. Turn Off Your Burners When Not in Use

Running a restaurant means that you are in the business of cooking hence it is expected you’re your burners will be raging at a regular basis. One of the ways of cutting cost of operation and ultimately lowering food cost in your restaurant is to ensure that you turn off unused burners, fryers or ovens during off-peak time. You will be amazed at the amount you will save if you follow through this process. You can actually save thousands of dollars annually.

  1. Purchase Fresh Food Stuffs Directly from Farm Market/Food Hub

Purchasing fresh food stuffs and fruits directly from farm market or food hub is one sure of way of getting them at the cheapest prices you can get in and around your city. Come to think of it, if you purchase fresh food stuffs and fruits directly from farm market or food hub you will be able to lower food cost in your restaurant.

A food hub, as defined by the USDA, is “a centrally located facility with a business management structure facilitating the aggregation, storage, processing, distribution, and/or marketing of locally/regionally produced food products. Food hubs also fill gaps in food systems infrastructure, such as transportation, product storage, and product processing.

  1. Be Effective in Preserving Your Food Stuffs

Another sure-fire tip that you should consider if you want to lower the cost of food in your restaurant is to make sure that you are effective in preserving your food stuffs especially fresh foods. If you run a restaurant, you cannot rule out the fact that there are times you will have unused fresh food stuffs and even cooked food, and if you fail to preserve them well, they may get bad and lead to wastage. If you can successfully preserve your unused fresh food stuffs and make use of them the following day or so, it will help you lower the cost of food in your restaurant.

  1. Operate Pre-Order Services

If you run a standard restaurant that customers can afford to place special orders of what they want, then one of the ways of lowering the cost of food in the restaurant is to make sure you only prepare food based on order after payment.

The truth is that even if you operate a limited-service or full-service restaurant, having a POS or cash register system capable of sending orders to the kitchen or bar will help reduce your cost of sales by at least 5 percent. As a matter of fact, by putting in place a system in your restaurant in which orders must be placed up before the food and drinks can be prepared or served, you ensure accountability and of course reduce the opportunity for wastage.

  1. Follow Through Schedule Maintenance of Your Appliances and Facility

Lastly, if you are serious about lowering the cost of food in your restaurant, then one of the tips you should consider is to ensure that you follow through scheduled maintenance of your appliances and facility. Come to think of it, if indeed you want to avoid the cost of replacing your appliances and other equipment unnecessarily, then you must be willing to follow through schedule maintenance.

The catch here is that, if you can successfully cut down on the operation cost in your restaurant business, it will sure help you lower the cost of food in the restaurant. There you have it, 20 practical tips on how to directly and indirectly lower food cost in your restaurant.

Joy Nwokoro