Convenience Foods to Save Money
For many restaurant menu items it makes sense to buy convenience foods. For example, popular pub food—French fries, onion rings, and chicken tenders -- are all fairly cheap to buy already made, and store them frozen. It would take a lot of staff time to prepare the same amount of food and while the cost of the food would be lower, the cost of your payroll would be significantly higher, driving up your overall food cost.
Another example of how many restaurants save on labor but spend more on food costs is with dinner rolls or other breads. Few restaurants (save bakeries) make their own bread. It would cost too much in labor, not mention space and equipment needed to produce commercial amounts of baked goods. It is far more cost effective to buy pre-made bread from a commercial supplier.
Menu Items Made From Scratch
Menu items that you choose to make from scratch and what you choose to order from your food suppliers will depend largely on your restaurant concept and menu. If your restaurant specializes in authentic Southern barbeque ribs, you would most likely prepare these from scratch in house, to ensure the highest quality food that can’t be found at other establishments.
Low Prep Menu Items
Here is a list of menu items that save labor time without sacrificing the integrity of your menu.
Salad Dressing and Sauces – Ready made salad dressings and sauces like BBQ sauce, honey mustard and marinara are fairly inexpensive to purchase and keep food cost low.
Pre-Portioned Meats – Slicing and weighing and portioning deli meats and poultry can be very time consuming, driving up labor costs. If items like deli meats are not a huge part of your regular menu, purchasing them already pre-portioned will save you money.
Pasta – Ravioli, gnocchi, and tortellini dress up traditional pasta dishes easily and inexpensively.
Desserts – There are lots of fabulous looking and tasting desserts that rival or exceed homemade desserts.