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You know food costing is important BUT how do you impress that on your kitchen staff?

How To Do Food Costing for your kitchen staff?

You know why food costing is important:

  • It’s the best way to manage profits
  • Food costing protects your inventory against over plating, theft, spoilage and waste
  • Actual vs. theoretical. You know it in your head but what are the real numbers
  • Keeps on top of your vendors, watches their pricing
  • Accurately prices your recipes to reflect any price creep

You already know the answer to that if you’re looking at food costing software. It gives you a handle on what you spend and what you should be spending.

The real question is why is it important for your kitchen staff to understand the principles behind food costing? Yes, I’m sure your chef understands the concept but unless you are the chef/owner and you watch every ingredient with an eagle eye…

  1. Kitchen staff are proud of the plated food they produce.

  2. They want it to impress the customer.

  3. And sometimes, in an effort to please, they over plate.

If your chef is proud of what s/he’s sending out of the kitchen in an effort to make the plate look bountiful they may add a bit here and there. They’re thinking it’s not a real issue. But you know that over time EVERY LITTLE BIT adds up to MORE MONEY SPENT.

So how do you make your chef understand the implications?

With food costing software the answer is right in front of them:

Here is our original serving recipe. The Actual and Target food costs align beautifully at about 33% and your sales price at $22 for salmon and sides is reasonable for your area:


Now the chef thinks the plate looks skimpy so s/he ups the salmon from 8 oz to 12 oz. Hey, what’s 4 oz of fish? And another 2 oz of greens. That can’t cause too much trouble, right? WRONG!!

Our Yield Cost is up almost $3. And our food cost percentage is up more than 10%!!  Gee Whiz. And there’s no way you can raise the selling price to the target of $31.88.

Multiply that cost loss by the number of servings you sell a year. Now multiply that by all the other items that are overplated.

Put reciProfity in front of the chef and let the chef play with it. It’s like a game. Change the amount of an item and watch the price, yield and food cost percentage rise and fall.

Trust me, a few minutes with the software and your chef will get the message!

The Cost of Goods Sold Confusion

From our resident expert on Cost of Goods Sold , Matthew Starobin,  comes this timely article in Modern Restaurant Management Magazine

In a nutshell, if you don’t know your REAL Cost of Goods sold you’ll never really know how much you are making, or how to increase your earnings.

It can’t all be “in the chef’s head”. What happens when prices go up? Or when you don’t account for trimming and shrinkage? Read the article and get yourself enlightened!

Modern Restaurant Management Magazine

Modern Restaurant Management Magazine

The Magic of Restaurant Software and Food and Recipe Costing

No, restaurant recipe costing is not magic. It’s just restaurant math. And this is where restaurant software comes in super handy. reciProfity is restaurant software that does restaurant food costing math for you. So it seems like magic!

If you’ve been running restaurants for years and doing restaurant food costing you’re likely already profitable and are using reciProfity to cost out your recipes and cut down on your admin work. But if you’re newer to the game, these articles will teach you how to conquer the profitability puzzle.

Here’s a quick primer on restaurant math: Spend 30% of your revenue on food and drinks to sell to your customers. Spend another 30% on your staff. Spend 20% on everything else: rent, electricity, gas, insurance, taxes, linen, maintenance, repairs, and light bulbs. Roll 10% back into the business to make it better and put 10% in your pocket. You’ve earned it.

To get this math right, it’s absolutely essential to have an accurate Food Cost. This is the most basic purpose of reciProfity. In other businesses this is called the Cost of Goods Sold (COGS) or Cost of Sales. Your Food Costing can be expressed in two ways:

  • As a number: exactly how much money do you pay for the ingredients in a recipe?
  • As a percentage: what percent of a recipe’s sales price goes to paying for its ingredients?



Here are some other terms you should know before we get into menu pricing strategies:

  • Fixed Costs, or Overhead, are the expenses connected with opening and operating your business everyday. This includes rent, electricity, gas, insurance, and anything else that stays the same (or almost the same) regardless of your sales volume.
  • Variable Costs are expenses that change directly proportionally to your sales volume. For our purposes, these are the same as Food Cost.
  • Payroll exists somewhere between Fixed Costs and Variable Costs. Even though your payroll costs vary depending on how busy you expect a service period to be, they can’t be expressed as an exact proportion of revenue so it’s not really a variable cost.
  • Gross Margin is the difference between revenue and food cost. In other words, it’s your profit AFTER paying for food but BEFORE paying your fixed costs. Also called Contribution Margin or Gross Profit.
  • Net Income is your profit after paying BOTH fixed and variable costs. From your accountant’s standpoint this is the same as your EBITDA: earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization.
  • Breakeven Point is the amount of revenue you need to exactly cover all your fixed costs, variable costs, and payroll. In other words, it’s the amount of sales that results in exactly zero net profit/loss. Here’s how to calculate the amount of sales you need to do in order to hit your breakeven point:
    Breakeven Sales=Fixed Costs/Gross Margin %

Simple Example to illustrate these terms:
You pay $10 for a rib-eye steak and sell it for $30.
Food Cost: $10
Food Cost%: 30%
Gross Margin: $20

Once you begin to add recipes in reciProfity you’ll begin to see how we help you determine your food cost % and match it to a target.

If you see an Actual Food Cost % that is above your Target you’ll start thinking about how best to manage that.  We’re getting you off to a good start here.

Would you change the price you charge? Or modify your ingredients? Or have a talk with your supplier?


Next up: what your target and actual food cost % really mean. And how they differ depending upon the category of your recipes. Stay tuned!

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