Flour Cost Cutting

Josh Keown

There is nothing that can be done that I am aware of. Yes, there are a host of different flour types that you can replace a portion of the wheat flour with, such as spelt flour, rice flour, amaranth flour and buckwheat flour, but all of these options are actually more expensive than wheat flour, so there wouldn’t be any cost advantage to using them. Occasionally, you can come across a very good deal on flour at one of the large club stores. The problem is that it is targeted primarily for the home consumer and it may not posses the quality characteristics that we expect from our flour. To this you can also add inconsistency –– if it works well for you once, don’t bet on it working for you the next time. That’s the gamble you take in this instance, but you can hedge your bets and still use the flour advantageously if you simply blend it with your existing flour of known good quality.

We have found that you can typically blend a flour of questionable quality with a flour of known quality at a 25-percent substitution and still make great quality pizzas. For practical purposes, this means that you could blend 10 to 15 pounds of an unknown or even a known, lower quality flour into 35 or 40-pounds of your regular pizza flour and still make an overall, great quality pizza, but at a lower cost. How much lower would depend upon the price that you paid for the lower cost flour.

You also may trim off a little cost with your dough formula. If you are using 100-percent pure olive oil, think about changing to a blended oil consisting of 10- to 30-percent olive oil with the rest being a lower cost vegetable oil (such as canola oil). This will still give all of the great flavor characteristics of the olive oil, but at a significantly lower cost. Look for any ingredients of questionable functionality, such as whole eggs, or egg whites, or milk in any of its various forms. For the most part, these ingredients only serve as a browning agent, much in the same way that sugar does, but they are a lot more costly, so replacing them with a little added sugar might also bring a little added cost relief.

We can possibly realize some cost savings in weighing ingredients. Portioning is an estimation of ingredient amount, while weighing is a more precise way to portion the ingredients. This allows us to accurately determine the exact cost of our dough. Think of it this way: if you’re off as little as $0.02 per pound of dough every time you mix a dough containing 50-pounds of flour, you will be off on your food cost by a total of $1.62. How many of those doughs do you mix over the course of the year? I’m betting that the cost saved will be more than enough to offset the roughly $380 cost of an electronic scale.

The same can be said for our topping ingredients, especially cheese. If you’re not weighing your cheese portions, it is easy to add an additional ounce of cheese to a pizza. Multiply this times the number of pizzas made during a month, divide by 16 and you have the total pounds of cheese literally being given away. Some stores have reported savings in cheese cost alone as much as $400 in a single month just as a result of weighing their cheese. This can be further expanded to include the other toppings for additional savings.