Essential Restaurant Menu Forecasting Techniques To Reduce Your Restaurant Costs

Restaurant menu forecasting

Restaurant menu forecasting is an essential part of your restaurant operations strategy that you must give due importance to. It helps you in analyzing the demand of your customers and subsequently plan your menu based on these demands. Menu forecasting is needed to make food item production decisions, prevents wastage, and also enables you to allocate the resources, such as staff or stock materials required to meet the demand.

Restaurant menu forecasting plays a critical role in controlling food costs by preventing wastage. It tells you the exact stock requirements needed to prepare menu items that enable you to order only the raw materials that you would actually be needed, thus reducing wastage.

Here are some of the key points that you should keep in mind while forecasting and designing your restaurant menu.

Restaurant Menu Forecasting Techniques

Every foodservice planning should ideally begin with restaurant menu forecasting. It helps you meet with the needs and wants of your customers and also equips you for the upcoming business.

Here are some techniques that will help you forecast your menu items for increased profitability and optimum food costs.

1. Calculating The Popularity Index

Calculating the Popularity Index of the food items will help your forecast the menu items and include the most desired food. 

Popularity Index is defined as the percentage of total guests choosing a given food item from a list of alternatives.

Popularity Index = Total Number Of Specific Items Sold / Total Number Of All Items Sold

Calculating the popularity index is very essential when re-designing your menu and forecasting the menu items. This will give you the accurate idea of the items you should be adding in the menu.

2. Pre-Costing

Pre-costing is a method of controlling your food cost while forecasting your menu items. It helps you control the food cost in advance of the preparation and service.

Being able to pre-cost the menu will help you make better profits. This makes it vital for the restaurant owners to forecast the selling price of the menu items so that you are able to cover the preparation cost. You can start by calculating the food cost percentage.

The food cost percentage is the percentage of your sales you spend on food. It is a significant number to identify before you start pricing the menu, it would give you the base price, and you can use this as a reference when pricing the menu items.

Food Cost = Cost Of Goods Sold / Food Sales

This would tell you how much money you make when spending a certain amount in preparing a dish. Ideally, your food cost should be around 28-30% of your selling price.

3. Volume Forecasting

Volume forecasting can be identified by looking at the previous restaurant volume. Volume forecasting will help you prepare for an upcoming event. You can check through the data of a previous event and make a note of the most requested food item. This will help you prepare for the upcoming event and forecast the menu items accordingly.

Objectives of volume forecasting are:

  • Predict the number of meals to be sold
  • Foretell the choice of menu items by the patrons
  • Facilitate the purchasing of raw materials
  • To ensure the availability of the food items

Volume forecasting is an excellent restaurant menu forecasting technique which helps you prepare for upcoming guests.

4. Using Technology For Restaurant Menu Forecasting 

You can easily achieve all of the above-mentioned tactics for restaurant menu forecasting with the help of a smart restaurant POS software. The following reports will help you forecast your menu items better –

(i) Daily, Weekly, Month Sales Report

The Sales reports come in extremely handy when you are forecasting your menu. Based on the sales generated and the footfall in your restaurant, you can predict the number of menu items that would be sold.

For instance, during the weekends, the footfall is generally high, and thus you would need to prepare more food items so that you are not sold-out.

(ii) Menu Item Performance Report

The menu item performance report gives in-depth reports about how the items on your menu are being received by the customers. You can check the total sales of a particular item for a given period through these reports, and also view the feedback given by the customers for it through the Feedback App.

If certain items on your menu generate the highest sales, you can use this information to ensure that that item is always in stock and ready to be served. Similarly, if a particular menu item is repeatedly getting poor reviews, you should consider removing it from the menu or bring changes in the preparation method to ensure customer satisfaction.

You can eliminate the food items that are not doing well for you, as there is no point in stocking up on the raw materials that are not being used.

Along with this, your restaurant POS should also give you a comprehensive report of the sales and cost analysis. It will avoid any food wastage and will help curb the food cost.

The foremost purpose of restaurant menu forecasting is to control food costs by preventing wastage and also to ensure that you are able to cater to the customer demands. Follow the above-mentioned techniques to ensure a steady business!

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Daniel McCarthy is a seasoned restaurant consultant and serves as the Communication Manager at Restroworks, a prominent F&B SaaS company. Drawing from his vast knowledge of leveraging innovative technological solutions, Daniel excels at enhancing restaurant operations and revenue, thereby contributing to the ongoing transformation of the industry.


  1. Hi good morning ,

    Just wanna ask help for a template for inventory monitoring and sales monitoring of daily,weekly,monthly.

    Thank you.


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