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How To Control Inventory in Restaurant or Bar

How To Control Inventory in Restaurant or Bar

Find out how to control inventory in restaurant or bar with properly written ingredients list , track stock and decrease the possibility of theft.

How To Control Inventory in Restaurant or Bar and how to correctly enter restaurant ingredients list in your POS software? If ingredients of your menu items are not properly entered into the program, that will lead to a certain disagreement of virtual goods and real situation in your stock. Not only that you will not have insight into the real state of the stock but either monitoring and traffic control, control of workers and the actual needs for certain items will be untrue.
And of course you will waste your time and money while trying to match the job.

Restaurant and bar owner frequently asked question – How to enter restaurant ingredients list and inventory items correctly for different kind of drinks and meals? Before I answer to this question it is important to clarify the concept of ingredients list and menu items.

An item is consists of ingredients

An item is the end product sold to the customer and it often consists of several goods, i.e. ingredients. In cafés, the simplest example is espresso coffee with milk, which consists of coffee, sugar and milk. In this case, coffee,sugar,milk and little plastic spoon are ingredients from which is made menu item – espresso coffee with milk (macchiato).

Often mentioned in restaurants is a composite item, which consists of several types of ingredients, for example a meal that is made up of meat, eggs, flour, rice and salt.
In simplest terms, ingredients are the goods needed to produce a specific item.

restaurant inventory spoons

The difference between ingredients and menu items

Ingredients are necessary goods which you need to make a meal or drink. Recipe for making a meal is your ingredient with preparation instructions. So when you find a recipe of some dishes you will see that in it you have all necessary ingredients to make the dishes.
So your chef or bartender is the best person who will help you to enter ingredients correctly into your POS software.

Each meal or drink that consists more than one ingredient is a complex item.

The best example to understand ingredients list of one drink are mixed drinks, which usually consist of a certain alcoholic beverages and juice.

If you want to run your stock properly, you need to specify exactly how much alcoholic beverages and how much juice goes in a certain mixed drink, which actually setting the ingredient list for this drink.

How To Control Inventory in Restaurant or Bar with Proper Ingredient List

When creating restaurant ingredient list for food special attention should be paid to:

  • type of ingredients from which the dish is prepared
  • required amount of ingredients for meal preparation
  • amount of drip loss – waste
  • quality of ingredients .

Take for example the creation of ingredients list for mixed drink Gin Tonic. This mixed drink is made from Gin and Tonic 0.03 L and 0.1 L. In this case ingredients for this drink are : Gin 0.03 L, Tonic 0.1 L. Lemon 0.005 kg and straw – one piece.

Gin Tonic Gin          0.03 L
Tonic       0.1 L
Lemon     0.005 Kg
Straw      1 piece

It is important to note that ingredient may be the same as menu item – Coca Cola , 1 piece ( bottle ) Coca Cola.

Common problems

The most common problems when creating ingredients list comes when we need to determinate fine ingredients with low grammage, ingredients for side dish and ingredients which has significant weight losses during food processing – physical cleaning, cooking, etc.

Problem 1 – Creating ingredient for fine grammage food

One of the biggest problems is how to accurately calculate the quantities of consumed ingredients with low grammage such as salt. Most chefs do not know exactly how much of these ingredients they use for the preparation of certain dishes.

So how to do that? How to control inventory in restaurant or bar for fmenu items with fine grammage?
To resolve this problem, simply ask your chef to measure and determine the amount needed for the preparation of ten dishes and after that make ratio for one dish.

restaurant inventory control limes

Pre-weigh all the necessary ingredients, make ten servings of meals, deduct amounts that has been left after made meals and divide it by ten.

In practice this way of measuring ingredients of low grammage is the simplest and the most important extremely accurate.

Problem 2 – Creating ingredients lists of side dish

One of the common problems is inventory control of side dishes. Certain meals in your menu items list included some certain side dishes that comes with it. However, if your restaurant or bar guest does not want that specific side dish than some other, you will have disagreement in your restaurant program.

Take for example the dish – Viennese steak. On your menu with this steak is included one free side dish – French fries.

However, if the guest does not want potatoes than rice, the waiter has the option of selling the potatoes and rise, and get his additional income,which is actually theft.

On the other hand, after the restaurant inventory has been made, there will be disagreements between quantity of potatoes in program and stock, which waiter can justify with miscalculations of program, which is indeed true.

Problem can be easily solved if you enter in your restaurant program main side dish but also have a possibility to choose another side dish. This way you avoid to enter double orders in your POS system.

Problem 3 – Drip loss of food 

During food preparation there is certain weight loss of the food. Information about how much food has been lost during preparation is very important when we create ingredients lists and pricing of menu items.Be aware of it when designing restaurant menu.
The drip loss occurs during:

  • Cleaning
  • Cooling and storage
  • Cutting and formatting
  • Heat treatment (cooking, frying and baking)

Drip loss during storage and preparation of food are a certain percentage for specified time intervals. So for example in the following table I will mention the drip loss for fish during storage in freezer.
Weight loss due to dehydration will depend on: type of freezer, freezing time, type of product, air velocity and freezer operating conditions.

Rate of weight loss from fish in cold storage

Type of store Average temperature (C) Rate of weight loss from exposed surfaces per day (g/m2)
Unit cooler -29.3 4.96
Jacketed -15.0 4.06
Pipe grid -27.9 0.25
Finned pipe grid -25.4 2.30
Unit cooler -30.0 5.0 to 50.0

As you can see the drip losses are huge and with the freezing and after cleaning they exceed even 20%

A similar table can be made for different types of food preparation. Boiled potatoes, for example, has much lower drip losses if it is boiled with shell than potatoes that are pre-peeled and cut for frying and baking.

In any case it is very important to know your drip loss during preparation to specify amounts that are required to prepare dishes before cleaning, shaping, freezing, etc. in order to have an accurate insight into the real needs of goods and stocks. To make it clearer I will show you the creation of ingredients list with required amount for specific meal with one simple example.

Measure ingredient for Menu item which Weight has to be 120 g

Exact drip loss of raw food is very important information because it gives us some insight into the amount of goods which we need to have to prepare some meals, like meat, you need to have more raw food to get correct portions of the weight given to us by the recipe and listed on the menu – Braised Veal Steak 120 grams.

Of course it is much easier if your restaurant program has the option of entering a prescribed drip loss percentage. This will save you a lot of time and get accurate information. In this way we obtain accurate information and a budget that leads to profits.

Let’s say that in your restaurant coming 27 guests on Thursday afternoon. They have chosen for their main dish famous “Braised veal steak.” Each guest need to get 120 g. of braised veal steak as it writes on your restaurant menu.
How much meat should be purchased, if you already know from earlier that the loss of processing is 8% and 34% for stewing.
How to calculate total loss?

27 people X 120 gr = 3.240 Kg

3240 X 100
————– = 4.909 Kg

Before stewing, and after raw processing (8% loss)
= 4.909 Kg

Prior to the preparation and processing (necessary raw meat)

X = Kg

4.909 X 100
——————- = 5.326 Kg

For this group of 27 guests you will need to obtain 5.326 kg of raw meat to served for each one of them 120 g of prepared meal.

So what you will enter in your program?

For 120 g of processed meat ( menu item) you will enter in your program ingredient 0.196 kg of raw meat with the other ingredients of the recipe.

In this way, with correct calculation, you will always know how much of some goods as in this example, meat,you need to obtain some meal although you have losses in processing and cleaning.

Also, avoid purchasing more than your restaurant needs. With less product to work with,less is wasted and your chef will handled with food with more responsibility.

restaurant inventory control graphic


Pricing your menu

Every restaurant owner need to track running costs, must sell their products at price that can pay off these costs as well as to achieve the planned profit.
The simplest way to form a price is to calculate the total input costs and to add them to the margin with which it could cover the costs and bring profits.

For price calculation you need to look out for the number of servings of specified dishes that you can sell. If you sell a larger number of meals then the price of that meals should be lower and more acceptable to the market.

Price calculation on one simple example – Trout fillet

At first you need to calculate what is real purchased price for some dish. This means required raw material.


1 kg cleaned trout $ 30 purchase price
waste from fileting 28% weight loss in%
usable part of fish 72%   net-weight percentages
30,00 * 100 : 72= 41,66 1 kg of trout fillets is $ 41.66 kn
net price $ 41.66
purchase price $ 30.00
food waste in monetary value   = $ 11.66

Once you calculate the actual purchase price, it is necessary to add the margin to meet the costs of inputs and gain profit.
In our example, a restaurant X, to cover the costs of inputs and obtain profit, it is necessary to have an selling price of 1 kg of trout fillets for $150 in order to ensure the profit of  275 %.

As a caterer you need to know your market and respond to their needs. You will succeed only if you form appropriate ingredient list and prices of your products and services to the mutual benefit of your guests and your own profits.

Practice has proved that caterers must take good care of their business policies as forming prices. It will not goes well if you do not know your market and all costs and drip losses of the preparation of served foods and drinks.

Do you have insights in all of your costs and food processing losses?
How you do that? If you do you are on good way to success.