Something that you should always know and do, is the cost of each meal down to the mayonnaise pack for a sandwich and the napkin used to wipe their [kids] mouth. I have created a spreadsheet for each menu day (basically a copy of the same spreadsheet with new title and cost information) and have been tracking my costs. This is beneficial to sit down and see where you may be able to add more value and decrease the amount of cost. (among other things...)
Here are two examples:
- Herb Chicken w/Focaccia Bread and chips - buying bread (versus making it) is convenient and saves time and money on labor but the cost is higher and takes up a lot of freezer space. This particular type of bread is also higher in cost than the others available. On a 'personal note' the bread is 'too much' (probably meaning too chewy or not soft enough) and not really appreciated any different from basic white bread on grades k2-3rd or maybe even thru 6th. Possible solutions:
- Do not use the word 'Focaccia' on menu and use a softer bread/bun that costs less for grades k2 thru 6th and only use Focaccia for 7th thru 12th and Staff lunches. Or just go with a 'wheat-berry' or other nice low cost bread for all the sandwiches.
- Purchase dough balls and make your own 'Focaccia' style bread which greatly reduces cost of the bread, keeps the labor cost down, and lets you control the softness of the bread. Added bonus: the smell of the bread baking will probably increase lunch sales that day!
- Baked Ziti and Broccoli - This day was a big hit and cost wise it is probably one of the better menu items. It has Bread/Grain (pasta), Vegetable (tomato sauce, broccoli, onion...), Meat (beef), and Dairy (cheese, and lots of it!). [capital letters added just for emphasis on part of meal] You would probably say "whats wrong with that?". Nothing. We don't need to decrease the cost, and actually it would be hard to do BUT If we spend just a few more pennies we can add value to the meal which may increase the orders.
- Several of us agreed that adding a piece of garlic bread would complete this meal. It seemed like it was lacking that 'sopping it up and licking the plate clean' effect.
- Another thing that we already implemented was adding a layer of Mozzarella in the middle of the pasta as well as on top. Kids always want the cheesiest parts and the way its made at restaurants and other places there's only a layer of cheese at the top, so when that's gone, they complain.
You can't do this without long term financial effects and that's why you have to know your cost down to the pennies. Its really not that hard once you set up spreadsheets that you can just plug in the numbers.
I have been using Google Drive and Google Documents to make all my spreadsheets, documents, pictures...to be able to sync over all computers, online, and my smart phone so I will always have access to updates and update as needed. I can then download and/or convert to excel or pdf, batch files, or 'as is'.
Later in the school year I want to add another page to my site and be able to share the forms, spreadsheets, or other information that I have created that has helped me with this whole process.
Any good ideas? Drop me a comment or email.