Business Insights

40 Thieves of Food Cost

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Food costs in a restaurant can be influenced by a variety of factors. To manage food costs, restaurant owners and managers often need to strike a balance between what they can and can't control to maintain profitability. This might involve careful menu planning, efficient inventory management, waste reduction strategies, and maintaining strong relationships with suppliers.

Here are some key factors that can drive up food costs that operators, like you, can control.


1. Purchasing too much
2. Purchasing for too high a cost
3. No detailed Specifications – quality, weight, type
4. No purchasing budget
5. No audit of invoices and payments
6. Too many vendors


Theft by receiving personnel
2. No system for credits
3. No system for checking in orders
4. Lack of facilities and/or scales
5. Perishable foods left out of proper storage


1. Foods improperly placed in storage
2. Storage at wrong temperatures and humidity
3. No daily inspection of stored goods
4. Unorganized storage areas
5. No physical inventory system
6. Lack of single responsibility for food storage
7. No control or record of foods issued from the storeroom


1. Excessive trim on vegetables and meats
2. No check on raw yields
3. No secondary usage of items


1. Over production
2. Wrong method of cooking
3. Cooking at the incorrect temperature
4. Cooking or holding products for too long a period of time
5. No food production schedules
6. Not using standard recipes
7. Not cooking in small batches
8. No waste log used for items thrown out


1. No standard portion size
2. No standard size utensils for serving
3. No records of food production
4. Carelessness (spillage, waste, cold food)


1. Food taken out of the building
2. Unrecorded sales and incorrect pricing: “no charge” or cash not turned in
3. No food popularity index or comparison of sales and inventory consumption
4. No sales records to detect trends
5. Poor pricing of menu items
6. Employee meal costs – over production or unauthorized meals
7. Not running special on items that were overproduced.

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