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Plan Smart. Save More.

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Operating a foodservice establishment today isn’t easy. Labor costs are a large part of budget and regulations are constantly changing. It’s time to do some menu planning, with labor savings in mind.

Here are the three most important things to keep in mind as you begin menu planning, 1) standardization, 2) convenience and 3) labor balance.


Begin by asking yourself where you can standardize processes. When tasks are done the same way every time, employees become more efficient. It’s also more efficient to prep as many ingredients as possible in advance. That’s why it’s so important to take inventory every night and be able to anticipate how much raw ingredient to prep.

Chopped onions, sliced vegetables, marinades – careful kitchen monitoring makes it possible to successfully plan ahead for all of these items and more. Not only does this make the preparation more efficient, it also frees your chefs to focus on preparing each dish to perfection.


Once your kitchen is maximized with standard and streamlined processes, it’s time to evaluate convenience foods and see which items can be used with your menu. The biggest consideration here is how a convenience item will impact quality.

In some cases, convenience items will enhance menu items – with standard portions and quality. This is particularly true with vegetables, desserts, and pre-portioned proteins, among others.

Of course, the opposite is true as well. If a menu favorite involves secret spices or homemade sauce, switching to a convenience item will diminish the experience and diner satisfaction.

A great option for staying true to your menu is enlisting the support of speed-scratch ingredients. For example – if diners love Swedish meatballs, consider using frozen meatballs and making the sauce from scratch to add your own flavors.

Labor Balance

Finally, make a conscious effort to keep your menu labor-balanced through this process. No one menu item should consist entirely of convenience food items, nor should it require a chef’s full attention during every step of preparation. For example, if you have a high-labor main dish, pair it with low-labor sides like frozen vegetable blends or mashed potatoes.

The bottom line – if you plan smart, you’ll save more. Approach menu planning based on these three key considerations, and your staff can spend less time prepping and more time pleasing guests with perfectly tasting food.

Examples of Savings from Convenience Foods

Breaded Chicken Tenders

Prepared from scratch- 4 oz- $0.94 raw ingredients + $0.27 labor = $1.21

Shamrock Homestyle Breaded Chicken Tenders (3633731)- 2 each (4 oz total)- $1.04

Savings- $0.17 (14%)

Mashed Potatoes

Prepared from scratch- ½ cup- $0.14 raw ingredients + $0.13 labor = $0.27

Bountiful Harvest Dehydrated Mashed Potatoes (4370551)- ½ cup- $0.11 raw ingredients + $0.07 labor = $0.18

Savings- $0.09 (33%)

Scalloped Potatoes

Prepared from scratch- ½ cup- $0.12 raw ingredients + $0.20 labor = $0.32

Bountiful Harvest Dehydrated Scalloped Potatoes (4370571)- ½ cup- $0.19 raw ingredients + $0.05 labor = $0.24

Savings- $0.08 (25%)

To learn more about convenience products and to brainstorm even more ways to maximize your menu, contact your Shamrock Foods Sales Representative today.

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