Reprinted with permission from Summer 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 of food cost control is not cutting corners. It is keeping a tight control on food costs. So where can you find extra money? Often the answer is right in your operation. Have you looked at food waste recently as a source of losing money?
Over Production — Do you know how much food is needed for a meal? How many people are you serving? What is the portion size? How many ounces are in a pan? How are recipes scaled to provide the necessary quantity? These are just some of the questions related to over production that a manager needs to consider. Yes, you want to have a little extra, but what percentage over is reasonable to allow for spillage in your operation?
Over Portioning — This is a universal issue. Is the proper serving utensil being used. Is the staff trained to know what portion goes with each color scooper or ladle? Are portions served level or heaping? When portions are heaping, what is the chance you will run out of food or need additional food for the meal?
Not Following Recipes — Typically the cost of a recipe is determined when a menu is developed to make sure the menu is within budget. The cost of the recipe is determined using specific ingredients and specific quantities of those ingredients. When standardized recipes are not followed there are a number of potential issues related to the cost. Is the correct product used for that recipe or is the product used more expensive? Is the correct quantity of an ingredient used? If not, over or under purchasing may occur. Both of which can impact the bottom line.
Not Rotating Stock — We have all heard of FIFO — First In, First Out. However, FIFO may not be happening all the time in an operation and result in spoilage. Proper rotation of all food items will prevent wasting money with the need to throw out an item because it is rotten or out of date. It will also help determine if the order guide needs to be adjusted so less of an item is needed to adequately prepare the menu.
Time and Temperature Abuse — Time and temperature abuse will result in the need to throw out food. Lack of controls and follow-up with time and temperature standards in an operation can be very costly. It most likely is a result of staff not properly doing their job.
The Bottom Line — Any and all of these practices can result in throwing money down the drain and having a negative impact on the bottom line of an operation. What will you do TODAY to stop throwing money down the drain?