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Tracking transactions is necessary when you’re a restaurant owner or manager. You are responsible for purchasing the ingredients, food cost control, maintaining the upkeep of your location, dispersing wages to your staff, and much more. A lot of money can come out of your pocket as your customers add some in.

Accurately noting the expenses you acquire on a daily, weekly, monthly, and annual rotation is crucial to keep your restaurant’s expenses under control. Here are some key points to consider in order to control the food costs in your restaurant.

Forecast Your Sales — and Your Staff

One of the first steps you should take in controlling your food costs is to analyze your business using trends. It’s not enough to look at the past six weeks or quarter and adjust your expected sales or food orders on those numbers — unless you’re a brand new business.

Instead, collect historical data and compare last year’s trends in terms of customer count, food expenditures, actual sales, and employee scheduling. You also need to account for upcoming holidays, seasonality within your business, and community events that could contribute either more or less business for your restaurant.

Update Your Training Plans


Many times, extra food waste occurs at the beginning of a transaction. Maybe your employee at the register accidentally placed the wrong order into the POS system, or your waiter is unprepared for a food-specific customer question and gives the wrong recommendation.

Much of your food cost is controllable, and you can take charge by implementing an introductory employee training. Ensure your staff is knowledgeable about the food prep and ingredients used, is following the correct meal recipes and portion measurements, and is utilizing a streamlined and intuitive POS system.

Track Inventory Regularly and Consistently

Instances such as expired ingredients, bulk orders, and disorganization in the back of the house can all have direct contributions to spiking your food costs. Setting a clear routine for managing inventory can ensure you’re not over-buying or contributing to food waste.

Implement the FIFO system (First-In, First-Out) for rotating products to make sure you use the ingredients sooner that expire first. Clearly label your shelving units, refrigerators, and freezers to organize all essential items. It’s also recommended to set up a schedule to take inventory. Inventory can consist of monitoring the ingredients you use up quickly daily and tracking those you use for specialty and less frequent recipes weekly.

Understand Your Menu Costs

Another good practice is to monitor your menu and update it based on how much you’re spending on your listed ingredients, as well as how popular some selections are over others. Meals that are costly to prepare and don’t sell well could be replaceable with less expensive prep and a good selling record. It can also be beneficial to calculate your food cost percentage — the cost of all items sold compared to the food sales amount — in determining which menu items are producing a profit and staying within budget.

Some restaurants will rotate their daily specials based on ingredients that will soon expire or products with a surplus. Ensure your staff is aware of what items they can also upsell to remove product quickly without wasting it.

Manage Your Food Cost Control With Intuitive Technology

Keeping your restaurant prices under control can take a bit of practice and experimentation, but there are restaurant management systems to keep you on the right track. Mad Mobile’s systems can help with your food cost control while enhancing your customer service solutions. Full-service restaurants and quick, fast-paced locations will find efficiency with our technology. Contact us for more information on our systems or to request a demo for your restaurant.

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