Portion Control and Food Cost

Portion control is an essential element of food cost and quality control. It reduces food waste, ensures a consistent and quality product, expedites food preparation and service, and has a big impact on food cost.

Portion Control and Food CostAny extra food added to the customer’s plate is money coming out of your bottom line.

While an extra ounce of soup or a handful of cheese may seem insignificant, these amounts added up per dish over an extended period of time are costing you thousands per year in additional food cost. Excessive portions also contribute to food waste, both in terms of plates coming back half-full and over-ordering of stock; that is your profit going into the garbage every day.

The best way to get a handle on food cost is to keep an open dialogue with all of your staff, assess if and where waste is occurring, and have a mechanism in place to ensure that each portion is consistent in every dish that leaves your kitchen.


When you create your menu, you should also allocate portions for each menu item and price them accordingly. The general rule of thumb is that each dish on the menu should cost 30 – 40% of the selling price in order to cover expenses and make a profit. Lack of consistent portions makes it impossible to assess the true cost per item. Talk to your servers and your dishwashers. They can provide information about what is coming back to the kitchen. If certain dishes are constantly coming back half-eaten perhaps you need to rethink that particular dish and alter it or eliminate it from the menu altogether, or adjust your portion sizes.


A successful restaurant is a team effort, and it is important that all of your staff are on the same page and have the necessary equipment to ensure product quality.

– Provide pictures of each plated item illustrating the correct portion sizes and plating.

– Provide a chart that lists the correct portion of each item in all food preparation areas.

– Pre-portion condiments, sides, and sauces.

– Order pre-portioned stock where practical and make sure that all bulk items are portioned out and appropriately labelled and stored as soon as possible.

– Have and an adequate amount of the correct sized storage containers, ladles, and scoops for each menu item as well as a variety of measuring cups, spoons, and scales.

These measures not only help to ensure less waste, they also speed food preparation and service, especially at peak times. This makes certain that your customers get what they expect every time they dine: consistently good-looking, tasty food, in fair portions, at a reasonable price.

Love of good food and the ability to share it with others is the main reason you opened your doors in the first place; proper food portioning practices help to ensure that they stay open.


For more info on Ideal Software’s Inventory Management system for controlling food cost IdealStockControl


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