Reprinted with permission from Spring 2014 INSIDER Magazine, the Official Magazine of the Association of Correctional Food Service Affiliates. By Linda Mills, MBA, RD, FADA Corporate Dietitian – Community Education Centers.
Food costs continue to increase and food budgets continue to decrease in many cases. Fiscal health or food cost control is not cutting corners. It is keeping a tight control on food costs throughout all the phases of food service — purchasing, delivery, inventory, menu planning, preparation, and service. So where can you find extra money? Often the answer is right in your operation. However, the source of the money is often overlooked.
Purchasing is the first function to evaluate. Are you purchasing the right product, of the right quality, received at the right time, at the right price, from the right supplier?
Right product — Are you purchasing the product with an eye on the price? When lettuce doubles in cost, do you look for alternatives for salads which are less costly?
Right quality — Are you purchasing the best product for the intended purpose? For example, why buy more expensive peach halves when less expensive sliced or diced peaches would be appropriate for the peach cobbler recipe?
Right time — Over and under purchasing is a common mistake which results in a loss of money. Under purchasing can mean higher cost for the product, the use of a more expensive product to replace the missing product, or increased labor costs. Over purchasing increases the risk of theft, and increases the possibility that food will spoil before it is used.
Right price — When you realize that the purchase price per unit is not the determining factor in choosing a food item, the next step is to evaluate how many edible portions are produced and service. Often the lower-priced products actually cost more because they have a lower yield.
Right supplier — Do you use a prime vendor? If so, when was the last time you checked the prices between your prime vendor and other multi-line vendors? If you get too comfortable with the relationship with your prime vendor and do not regularly shop around, you may not be getting the best prices after a period of time.
Any or all of these practices can result in throwing money down the drain. More practices to stop throwing money away will be in the next issue of Insider.
Cook’s Correctional is a proud supporter of the ACFSA and we will be at the upcoming 2014 International Conference in St. Louis.