Portion control is something we like to talk a lot about here at Tundra. Why? Because it's one of the easiest ways to make a positive impact to your bottom line. Lucky for you, practicing portion control is easier than you think.
When we talk portion control we aren't talking about counting calories, though the concepts are similar. Without the right measuring tools by your side, it's easy to add a little more (or less) to your recipes and plates, compromising your flavor consistency and food cost tracking. While at the moment it might not seem like much, those small additions add up quickly.
Take for example, how quickly the little extras here and there add up to your inventory. Purchasing the right amount of product is difficult when you have too much one week and not enough the following; without product you have nothing to sell, and with too much product a lot of it is either donated or thrown into the trash. When you practice proper portion control, you won't have to worry about dramatic fluctuations from week to week.
Practicing proper portion control is one of the easiest ways to save money in your business, and we'll show you how to do it. Ready to get started? Read on to learn more!
First things first, precise portion control starts with having the right equipment by your side. Lucky for you, these supplies fit comfortably on your counter or in the drawer!
The precision of scales can't be beat, which is why you can expect every commercial kitchen to have at least one. Great for measuring protein (often most expensive ingredient on your menu), take care to weigh your filets during prep to ensure each portion is accurate. When you're not measuring steaks, use your scale to portion out dinner rolls, individual pizzas and more.
With scales, you not only get the accuracy you can rely on but efficiency you can count on. For example, if each filet is the same size, you can dial in cooking times to the second--no Redmore throwing out filets because one was overcooked!
With digital scales, you get quick, accurate readouts over and over again. Digital portion scales are the true stars of this category because they excel in measuring multi-ingredient steps. The "tare" feature on your digital scale resets the current weight to zero, so if you're making pasta dough you can put your bowl on the scale, press the tare button, and then add your ingredients. These scales are also incredibly useful with ratios (eg three parts flour to two parts egg) because you can measure your eggs first (which may weigh four ounces) and then know you need to add six ounces of flour.
Think of manual, or mechanical, scales as an old reliable that gets the job done. Some still like the touch and feel of a manual scale, and along with that nostalgia a manual scale won't leave you racing around to find batteries when they die (because let's face it, batteries always die during the most inconvenient moments). That said, mechanical scales lack the programmable features of a digital scale, and unless you're calibrating it frequently, the measurements may not be as precise. Plus, depending on what you're measuring (like flour-y balls of dough), food and other debris will work its way into the mechanical components which will require regular cleaning and/or repair.
Slicers and dicers, whether manual or automatic, are great ways to introduce portion control at the root of preparation. This equipment regularly makes consistent cuts, so you'll know exactly how many slices you'll get from each tomato, and how many sandwiches you'll be able to top. Get more consistent flavor profiles in each batch of pico de gallo, and couple that with your portion scoop (see below) you'll have your food costs dialed in.
Serveware like ladles, dishers and spoodles are the best way to measure out starches, veggies, soups and more. Perfect for fast casual concepts, cafeterias, hospitals and more portion scoops generally feature capacities upwards of 1 to 4 ounces. Featured in solid and perforated options (great for water-y ingredients like pickled vegetables), don't miss these simple additions to your lineup!
Dishers are a must-have for any commercial bakery. Dishers, also known as cookie scoops, are used primarily by bakers to portion out cookie dough on a pan or measure batter into a muffin cup. They are critical to portion control because you'll be able to determine the exact amount of cookies of muffins you get out of each batch, enabling you to price your products appropriately for a positive net profit.
Your bar program can be quite lucrative, but it can also be extremely costly. Unfortunately bartenders are notorious for adding a little more (or a little less) in pours, which can not only affect your purchasing behavior but also the consistency and quality of beverages. Don't wait until you see reviews like "Great place, but the drinks are weak!" or "Loved it the first time we went, but the second time the drinks weren't as strong!". Ensure that every guest experience is the same with these must-have bar supplies by your side.
These little devices are sold in a variety of dispense capacities, often ranging from ½ ounce up to 2 ounces or more. With liquor pourers you get better accuracy with each pour while also easing the burden on your bartender for proper measurements.
Not as accurate as liquor pourers, inexpensive jiggers are a good standby when measuring alcohol. Typically featuring a double end with one and two-ounce measurements, be sure to buy a few jiggers to keep your bar area well-stocked.
Once you dial in your portion control you should start to see the results translated into lower food costs. To calculate your food cost, follow this simple formula:
Your final percentage revels the cost for every dollar you took in sales. Factors like lower food waste and holding less in inventory can help decrease this percentage so you'll make more for every dollar of sales. From proteins to garnishes and more, we hope you see how easy it is to reap the rewards of proper portion control!