Portion Control is basically the procedure followed that defines the quantity to be utilized in preparing a dish and then serving it. Controlling portions becomes crucial for the success of any restaurant as it has a considerable impact on Food Costs. Standard portions also mean consistency in the taste, quality, and quantity of food, which eventually results in customer satisfaction.
The Need for Portion Control in Restaurants
The tight margin in restaurants and high competition has led to a dire need to control food costs. Portion control is one of the ways you can keep the Food Costs in check and maintain the overall health of your restaurant.
1. Controlling Food Costs
Controlling portion size plays a significant role in keeping the Food Costs in check. Even a slight imbalance in serving can affect your margins. Ideally, your Food Costs should be 30-40% of the Selling Price of an item. Thus, overserving can lead to a serious dip in your revenues.
2. Reducing Wastage
Leftover food that is sent back by the customers is one of the worst types of Food Wastage as it cannot be recycled. Overserving of food which the customers cannot eat leads to wastage and ultimately inflated Food Costs. Controlling portion size helps eliminate this problem. Many restaurants also specify the portion size in the menu to inform the customers of the quantity to reduce wastage of food. Learn how to reduce the food wastage in your restaurant here.
3. Maintaining Consistency
One of the major reasons why QSRs, especially the Franchise restaurants are successful is because they ensure consistency in taste as well as quantity. For the most parts, you can be assured that there would not be any surprises when it comes to the quality and quantity of food.
Even if you own a Standalone restaurant, the need to control portions still arises as consistency is the key to providing good customer service. You cannot depend on the whims and guesswork of your chef or server, who plate the food as per their estimation. While overserving can increase your Food Costs, underserving can lead to unhappy customers.
Tips to Control Portion Size
Here are some tried and tested ways to control Portion Size in restaurants-
1. Standardized Recipes
Standard Recipes are essential to the success of any restaurant business. A Standard Recipe is basically a set of instructions that is used to prepare and present a dish. It consists of the quantity of the ingredients to be used, and also the portion to be served to the guests. Thus you can know how many people can be served from one prepared dish beforehand. Apart from the preparing instructions, Standard Recipes should also include-
- Weight/volume of each ingredient
- Serving size
- Recipe yield
- Equipment and utensils to be used
2. Right Plating
Much like the Standard Recipes, written plating instructions are also essential for serving food and controlling portion size. Ask your chef to put the plating instructions in writing to eliminate any guesswork. It is also a good idea to have pictures of what the actual dish to look like for reference. Learn how to plate your dishes the right way here.
3. Right Measurement
The most important part of controlling portions is using the right measuring tools and utensils. Portioning utensils such as cups, spoons, ladles and jiggers come in handy in preparing as well as serving the dish. It is also important to use a good commercial kitchen scale for weighing meats and cheese. You can measure ingredients in three ways-
- Measuring by count– In this way, you can simply count the number of ingredients to be used or served.
- Measuring by volume– In measuring by volume, you can use measuring spoons, cups, and ladles etc.
- Measuring by weight– In this way, you use a scale for measuring the ingredients.
4. Staff Training
All efforts to control portions can go in waste if your kitchen staff is not properly trained to execute those measures. The Chef should follow the exact recipe to keep the quantity balanced. No matter how experienced one is, it is essential that proper measuring utensils are used while preparing the dish. Make sure that your staff is well trained in serving the food properly on the plate while keeping the portion size and aesthetics in mind as well.
5. Buying Right
Much of the Portion Controlling worries can be solved if the right type of raw materials is purchased in the correct quantity. It is important to consider the Product Yield of the item, and the number of portions it would give. Also, keep a track of the fresh and dry ingredients required by the kitchen and their price. It is also a good idea to purchase part-prepared and ready-prepared items such meat. While they can be expensive, you would still save on the labor costs.
Portion controlling is an important part of Cost Control in restaurants and can have a significant impact on your restaurant revenues. It also helps in maintaining consistency in food and increases customer satisfaction. Read a detailed guide to Food and Beverage Control in restaurants here.