How Do I Choose the Best Food Costing Software?

Alex Newth

Food costing software is a way for restaurants, both large and small, to help drive down the cost of food and supplies. This is done through a variety of methods, such as standardizing recipes and quantities and keeping track of inventory and ordering. Another way food costing software drives down cost is by figuring out if over-portioning or theft is occurring within the restaurant. The best food costing software will have all these traits to keep the restaurant from going bankrupt and will help pull in a higher profit.

Food costing involves calculating the prices of every item that's in a dish.
Food costing involves calculating the prices of every item that's in a dish.

By standardizing a restaurant’s menu, food costing software ensures a specific amount of ingredients are used per meal. This helps calculate ordering costs and helps detect if chefs or other employees are using too much of a particular ingredient or stealing food. Each restaurant has a different amount of items on its menu. This means the software must have room to expand to fit any number of items, so the restaurant owner can add new items at his or her leisure.

Food costing software also assists with inventory and ordering. When the software is ordered, the manager should enter the total amount of inventory and the ideal amount of inventory so the software can alert managers when it is time to order more supplies. The software should also allow the manager to enter the current price of ordering, so the software can keep track of how much the restaurant is spending. By keeping an inventory, the food costing software ensures the manager never orders more ingredients than needed and also ensures costly mistakes, such as not ordering necessary ingredients, are avoided.

While no restaurant manager wants to think of it, theft and over-portioning are two ways a restaurant can lose money. Food costing software detects this by comparing the real amount of inventory against the amount of inventory that should be in the restaurant. A slightly lower inventory will usually not cause much alarm but, if several cases or boxes are missing, the food software should immediately alert the user that there is a problem. This allows the restaurant manager to look into the issue and carry out appropriate action, if necessary.

Along with having these traits, another essential element of a good food costing software is an easy-to-follow interface. Most such software has a spreadsheet-like interface that allows managers to quickly type in ingredients, inventory, menu items and other necessities. Complex systems will make it more difficult for the manager to accurately save money and may end up wasting time and producing inaccurate results.

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