2011 February: Business Solutions – Portion Control

weighing ingredients portion control

We’ve beat this drum before, but we’ll continue to beat it until operators everywhere heed the call and begin taking portion control seriously. The fact of the matter is that portion control is sound business that should save you at least five percent on your food costs — and it’s incredibly easy to enact.
Let’s look at the average pizzeria, where gross annual sales would hover around $550,000. If food costs come in at 30 percent, that would mean that the shop purchases around $165,000 in ingredients yearly.

If portion control measures yielded a five percent decrease in food costs, that would save our hypothetical pizzeria $8,250 each year. If your employees are free-handing cheese — simply tossing on whatever looks “right” to them — rest assured your savings would be substantially higher should you begin a portion control program.

So, how do you get started? There are a variety of methods available, including in-line digital scales, spoodles, cups with ounce gradations and even pre-weighed cheese cups. The most accurate method would be to utilize a built-in digital scale on the make line. You can even get them recessed directly into your make line.

If you are looking to enact portion control on the cheap, that’s not a problem either. Big Dave Ostrander often likes to tell the story of how he put together a portion control program for next to nothing before he finally decided to purchase a digital scale.

“I purchased several hundred 22-ounce rubber cups from a Dollar Store,” Ostrander admits. “Packs of six only cost a dollar at the time. They were unbreakable, washable and reusable. As a normal part of the daily prep, we weighed out our cheese just like we weighed out our dough balls. There is a big difference in a penny an ounce for dough and a dime or more an ounce for cheese!”

Ostrander says the result was that he cut his cheese usage by 20 percent.

“For me,” he says, “that was over 200 pounds a week.”

After you get a grip on your portion sizes, it’s a good idea to next go through your entire menu and document the proper weights for each ingredient in each dish. This will not only breed consistency, but will help you determine whether any of your menu items are underpriced.