Food Costs: Actual vs. Ideal

One of the factors that play a substantial role in the success of a foodservice operation is food costs. Food cost is what a menu item costs to prepare. The cost of a chicken entrée with meat, sauce, vegetables and starch is your food cost. Most restaurants run between a 30-40% food cost, this does not include the cost of overhead that needs to get added in before you start making a profit. A major influence on a restaurant’s food costs are the portions that the kitchen staff are creating each recipe and dish with.

One of reasons that franchise chain restaurants are so successful is because they have menu portions under control and regulated. It doesn’t matter if you go to Applebee’s in West Virginia or California, you will probably be served the same food in the same portion sizes. Customers like this consistency. By having a restaurant maintaining predictability, regardless of the location, chain restaurants guarantee strong profit margins.

Poor portion control is one of the leading causes of food cost variances. Consider that your ideal food cost is based on the premise of exact portioning for each menu item, including the portioning of each ingredient within a menu item. If your prep and line cooks have gotten in the habit of “eyeballing” measurements rather than sticking to the exact recipes, chances are your food cost variance could be as much as 5% or more. Proven portion control strategies include the use of portioning scoops, scales and measuring spoons and cups. Pre-portioning can be effective in controlling costs by using portion baggies and a scale to pre-weigh product before stocking the cook line.

Ideal food cost is the standard by which you can compare your actual food cost. If your actual food cost varies to your ideal food cost, then you set about to determine why and where the problem(s) lie. After completing your inventory, you should do a food cost analysis. You should do this at least once a week. The actual food cost is the cost of the food consumed by your customers.  When your actual food cost is higher than your ideal food cost, then you have not optimized your bottom-line profits. You have thrown money out with the window- I guess you could say. However, you won’t know this unless you know what your ideal food cost is.

So, a few things that a restaurant can do to maintain this consistency and reliability, in regards to portion control and essentially saving in food costs are:

          Providing pictures of each plated item. This illustrates the correct portion sizes and proper plating.

          Provide pictures of what each raw material/ingredient should look like after they are prepped. So for example, have pictures of actual sizes of what diced chicken looks like compared to the restaurant’s sliced chicken. This will give employees a visual of how to prep and what to look out for when assembling menu items.

          Pre-portion condiments, sides, and sauces. Every restaurant that I have ever worked in has done this. This is why when you go out to eat a restaurant and you order a salad, the dressing usually comes in small ramekins that have plastic lids. This way you can serve the dressing in-house or for to-go.

          Always have an adequate amount of correct sized storage containers, ladles, and scoops for each menu item as well as a variety of measuring cups, spoons, and scales.

These four prevention measures not only assist in less waste, but they also speed up food preparation and service time – especially at peak times like the lunch-rush or dinner-rush. It also makes certain that your customer gets exactly what they order and what they want, every single time they come to dine at your foodservice establishment.

So, with all of this information being said… How does this apply to my ISPP rotations right now?  Well, at my Institutional Food Service, Production and Management rotation, the entire class was assigned a task. This was to choose a raw material (ingredient) and analyze the actual vs. ideal food costs of that item. And by doing this, see what the restaurant needs to do to improve the usage of this product- whether or not if it was being overused or underused. So, the raw material I chose was chicken breast. This is the most profitable, and popular, raw material that this particular restaurant location utilizes throughout the summer. So, by going through the company’s database with the assistance from management, each student/dietetic intern were able to see what problems existed. And by doing this, new techniques or methods can be adopted to improve the use of these raw materials within the foodservice operation. Fundamentally- creating an even happier customer base.

Manage My Restaurant

What is Ideal Food Cost?

ideal

The Dirty Dozen

Dirty Dozen

There has, and probably always will be, a debate as to whether consumers should purchase organic versus traditionally grown food sources. And I really didn’t think too much about the topic until I took an Agricultural Values and Ethics class my last year as an undergraduate, as a capstone requirement. Ever since then, I really have become aware of how information can really change how a consumer shops for groceries for their family.

This being said… I came across a term, “The Dirty Dozen”, in several articles about organic food versus traditionally grown food.

Every year, the Environmental Working Group releases a Shopper’s Guide. The guide has information on 45 different conventional fruits and vegetables and their pesticide loads. At the top of the list- the produce found to contain the highest amount of pesticides: is the Dirty Dozen. These are the 12 foods that they recommend consumers always purchase in their organic form. This Shopper’s Guide is based on the EWG’s analysis of pesticide residue testing data from the USDA and the FDA.

Then, on the bottom of the list, are the Clean Fifteen. These are 15 foods that have the lowest pesticide residue. If you’re on a limited budget and have to pick and choose your organic produce, the EWG encourages that you spend the extra money for the Dirty Dozen in their organic form and buy the Clean Fifteen in their conventional form.

Now that I’ve provided the education and substantial background on these organic-friendly foods, don’t get confused as to why I chose not to mention anything based on my opinion in this post. I personally, have different views about organic versus tradition foods. And again, I personally, will go out of my way to avoid purchasing organic foods. But, I’m not here to convince anyone to agree or disagree with my opinions. I’m here to provide nutritionally beneficial education to the public. And I hope I’m achieving this goal more and more as my ISPP Dietetic Internship, and future career as a Registered Dietitian, continue.

St. Louis Fox News

dd 2012

dd 2011

organic

 

What Parents Need to Know

It’s no secret that America has a childhood obesity epidemic. The health risks that can accompany childhood obesity are so regularly featured on news reports that it’s amazing the problem is still so prevalent. And although many parents can identify a weight problem in their child, they might not know what to do about it, especially when it comes to handling the situation without damaging her self-esteem. Here is some food for thought for parents of overweight children, along with some practical, real-life advice for handling the situation.

Your Doctor Might Not Tell You

Your doctor might not let you know that your child is overweight or obese. This may be because he assumes you do not want to know. As a parent, it is easy to turn a blind eye to things like your kids being overweight or even when your kids develop a bad habit. If you have a suspicion that your child is overweight, you should approach your doctor about it. This will show him that you are interested in learning more about the issue and are willing to work with his suggestions on what to change or tweak in your child’s life.

You Are Not Alone

Sometimes it’s difficult to realize that you are not the only one with overweight kids. There are others out there who are just as concerned as you are and who are willing to share their wisdom. Search out those other parents and work together to achieve a common goal. That extra support is just the thing you need to keep on track, and having another overweight child working toward becoming a healthier size will help put your child at ease and encourage her to work hard at losing that extra weight.

Exercise Is Always a Good Thing

Not everyone enjoys exercise, but it’s essential for kids’ health and physical development. Come up with an exercise schedule that everyone in the household sticks to. There’s no reason to send your kid off to the gym for an aerobics class while you sit at home. Make it a family event that everyone looks forward to. If everyone likes to do something different, then create a schedule that includes all of the activities throughout the week. Working together as a family not only creates a built-in support system, it can also boost the health of everyone in the family and gives you an opportunity to model the habits you want your child to adopt.

She Shouldn’t Have to Make Changes Alone

Along the same lines as exercising with your child, don’t make them go through any aspect of this experience alone. Singling him out will just create tension and remorse that doesn’t need to be there at all. If the doctor says he needs to change his diet, change the diet of your entire family. Clean out that pantry of the junk food and fill it with healthier alternatives, encouraging everyone to eat better. Even members of your family at an average weight can benefit from cutting out the empty calories.

Some Foods Should Be Avoided

Going out for fast food three times a week is a bad habit to get into, regardless of how convenient it might be for time-strapped parents. All of the grease that is typical of fast food has no place in a child’s diet. And, keep in mind the word “diet” does not mean counting calories and starving your child. She still needs a decent amount of food. After all, she is growing and changing. With how much energy children burn throughout each day, chances are they need to eat more food than you would expect. They just need healthier fare than deep-fried potatoes and genetically modified meat.

Counting Calories Isn’t Always Right for Kids

The strict course of counting calories is a lot of pressure to put on a child and will single them out more than their weight already does. Stress can even be a trigger for kids and adults who are prone to emotional eating. So skip the added stress of counting calories and think about ways to instill healthier habits as a whole.

Your Child May Have Low Self-Esteem

It is possible that your child is being picked on at school or being made fun of by his peers because he is overweight, and he may very well be too embarrassed about the bullying to tell you about it. Sometimes kids don’t even necessarily mean to be cruel, but it can still feel that way to your child when his differences are being highlighted at every turn. If you think your child may be being picked on at school, speak with the guidance counselor to see what she has noticed and what she suggests that you do, but make sure that you’re making efforts to boost his self-esteem at home as well.

It’s Okay to Embrace Your Child’s Weight

Most importantly, embrace the way your child is no matter what. She should feel comfortable with who she is no matter what her weight is and understand that your focus on her weight is out of concern for her health rather than an emphasis on her looks. Just because she is overweight doesn’t mean she’s not a good child, and she needs to know that.

AuPair.org

fatty

Love Your Heart Fun Lunch

Love Your Heart Fun Lunch- The Main Event

Well, the day finally arrived! Saturday February 2, 2013- The “Love Your Heart Fun Lunch” free heart screening event took place at the WVU Heart Institute in the Suncrest Towne Centre. The ISPP Dietetic Internship was there and we were ready to educate the community all about…. (drum roll please)… PORTION DISTORTION! Since the ISPP Dietetic Internship has an Emphasis Area of “Leadership in Community Wellness”, our table was geared towards addressing what so many Americans find themselves becoming confused about- serving sizes, portion control, and easy ways to remember how to stay healthy.

Our table consisted of the following informational material:

  • Portion distortion flyer
  • Serving sizes- comparing inanimate objects to correct serving sizes
  • Plate proportions
  • Quick, easy recipes for on-the-go people
  • Antioxidants handouts
  • Mindful eating flyer and handouts
  • Incentives- food diary, brochures of the TLC Diet, and Walnuts- relative to heart health

We were asked by the coordinators of the event to wear a red shirt and dress pants. All of the table covers were provided by the staff and they even provided tape for me to use when I was setting up and hanging our “How Well Do You Know Your Portions” poster. The participants received a stamp from the ISPP Dietetic Internship table when they walked through our demonstrations and interacted with our activities. These stamps went on a participant bingo card, which entered them for a chance to win a door prize if they visited each table in the waiting area. Our first activity at our table was Kaylyn’s “Fast Food Quiz”, which was very intriguing to everyone at the event. Our second interactive, hands-on activity was a portion exercise I created. I had two bowls displayed in front of a bowl of rice. The purpose was to have participants portion out how much they thought a normal portion of brown rice was, then portion the appropriate amount into the other bowl to compare the two bowls side-by-side. Only four people tried the activity so, maybe next time I try to implement something like this again, I should include directions displayed for participants to see so there’s no confusion. Overall, the event was a real success for the WVU ISPP. Everyone seemed really open and receptive to the information we were providing to them.

Two-thirds of the ISPP Dietetic Internship ready to promote nutrition literacy!

Two-thirds of the ISPP Dietetic Internship ready to promote nutrition literacy!

 

Portion Distortion!!

Portion Distortion!!

 

Educating a participant on portions and serving sizes. Most people were quite surprised about the size of a "typical" dinner plate and its effects on portion control.

Educating a participant on portions and serving sizes. Most people were quite surprised about the size of a “typical” dinner plate and its effects on portion control.

 

WVU ISPP Dietetic Internship!!

WVU ISPP Dietetic Internship!!

 

An up-close look at our table and handouts!

An up-close look at our table and handouts!

 

 

Leadership in Community Wellness: Undergraduates Action Team Meeting

Community Nutrition Action Team Engage!

As an ISPP Dietetic Intern, we have an emphasis area of “Leadership in Community Wellness”. Therefore, each intern is assigned an Action Team based on an area of “LCW” that we are most associated with. I am the ISPP Dietetic Intern responsible for the Extended Community Wellness Action Team. This team is comprised of WVU Human Nutrition & Foods students that applied for positions as Undergraduate Interns (HN&F 495 Independent Study credit).

The first Extended Community Undergraduate Intern Action Team meeting took place this week on Tuesday January 29th. On the action team, I have an undergraduate intern for (1) WV Action For Healthy Kids, (1) Children’s Discovery Museum of West Virginia, and (1) The Shack Neighborhood House and Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Design. Bringing my team to a total of 3 students. In our meeting, I distributed tables of meetings, projects, programs, and presentations that each undergrad intern will be responsible for throughout the semester. I distributed all 4 tables to each student on my action team so, everyone knows what everyone else is doing and playing a role in. I think this will help prevent any confusion as to what each undergrad intern’s role will be throughout the semester.

As a team, I expect all 3 students to attend all Action Team meetings, as well as keeping notes of every meeting and emailing these notes to me by the Sunday after our meeting. This way I can see if the students understand their role on the Extended Community Wellness Action Team and if anything needs to be clarified at the next meeting. Currently, I have told this Action Team that our focus is to get “The Casserole Club” organized and lessons start being developed. At the end of the semester, I expect a PowerPoint presentation of what everyone completed throughout the semester. This presentation may OR may not be a group presentation, depending if our final meeting is concurrent with the other Action Teams (Collegiate, Worksite, Social Media).

AFHK Undergraduate Intern

  • Current involvement
    • Newsletter
    • Facebook page- keep a documented file of all your posts
    • Grant workshop
      • Document all meeting notes about workshop
      • Save and email all supplemental materials from workshop
  • Meetings
    • Document all meetings attended and submit
    • WV AFHK chapter meetings
    • SWAB meetings
  • Semester project
    • Create a nutrition education program based on an AFHK theme/idea
      • This theme does not have to be Smarter Lunchrooms
      • This project can be utilized within the Community Undergraduate Internship Action Team
        • Can work with SNH or CDM of WV to utilize child/adolescent populated organizations
      • BE CREATIVE!!
  • Compose a 1 page (maximum) article based on a topic given by Community ISPP Dietetic Intern
    • Post article on AFHK Facebook page
    • Submit on Ecampus by deadline
    • These topics that will be assigned by Intern, will be based on your AFHK project

Children’s Discovery Museum of WV

  • Timeline of all CDMWV events for entire semester
    • Nutrition and non-nutrition related
    • Due: February17th, 2013
    • Meetings
      • Schedule regular meetings with Katie Bulian
      • Projects
        • Develop a strategic plan for CDMWV’s Facebook page
          • Post pictures on their page
          • Tag them in articles posted
          • Create publicity for the CDMWV through Facebook applications
          • Document all Facebook activity with CDMWV
  • Healthy Passport” nutrition programming

 

Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Design

  • Meetings
    • Oxfam Hunger Banquet: Mountaineering Against Hunger  planning meetings
    • Food Day/Week planning meetings
    • Projects
      • Oxfam Hunger Banquet: “Mountaineering Against Hunger
        • Instructions outlined in binder and table
        • Decided to schedule event on a Saturday
        • Committees: (1) Publicity, (2) Logistics, and (3) Planning
        • Find a venue
        • Set a date- late semester event (nice weather)
        • Food Day/Week
          • Different from National Food Day (normally held in October)
          • Plan event near/around Oxfam Hunger Banquet
          • Ideas: Plan Food Day/Week building up to Oxfam Hunger Banquet (Saturday)
          • Collaborate with cross-campus organizations involvement
          • Find venue(s)
          • Set a date(s)- late semester (nice weather, possibly outside events?)

Shack Neighborhood House

  • “Happy School”- A program for new, young parents with young children that meet Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday 9:30am-12pm. So, our program would either take place Tuesday or Thursday 10am-11am OR 11am-12pm.
    • The Casserole Club
      • Focusing on food culture
      • 8 week program
      • Supply recipes from http://recipefinder.nal.usda.gov/
      • Meetings
        • Attend a min. of 1 United Way meeting
          • ISPP Dietetic Intern will determine a calendar of meetings in the Morgantown area
          • Projects
            • After-school programming
              • Brainstorming with Lauren Gerchufsky to work with AFHK on program ideas
              • 8 week program
                • Monday afternoons are still available at the SNH, as they were in the Fall 2012 semester
  • Family Fun Night
    • Every third Tuesday and Thursday of the month 6pm-8pm
  • Father’s HAND
    • Every Thursday 6pm-8pm
    • Prefers to have male HNF student to present
    • Interested in cooking classes
  • Rosenbaum House
    • SNH recently just received a small grant that they plan on using towards preparing easy, healthy recipes and delivering/serving clients. They are interested in having HNF students help.
    • Jess is waiting to find out more information about the process

     

http://www.the-shack.org/

http://thefunfactory.org/

http://www.pierpont.edu/schoolofhumanservices/wv-child-nutrition-center/west-virginia-action-healthy-kids

CDM

 

 

Oxfam

SNH

wvafhklogo

My Mini Kitchen Audit

A Mountaineer Mini Kitchen Audit

So, this past week was quite an eventful one at that for this WVU ISPP Dietetic Intern. I had the pleasure of administering a mini kitchen audit to ensure the WVU Agricultural Sciences Annex Test Kitchen had the tools, equipment, and utensils for an upcoming event that week. Initially, this kitchen audit was intended to be administered by our program’s graduate student, who is a professional chef. But, when the audit was abandoned, I stepped in to do just a brief audit. Our kitchen holds roughly 25 students and has 4 kitchen units. Within each unit, there are 2 sinks, 1 microwave, 1 stove, and holds 4-6 people. Each unit is really broken into 2 stations and has a set amount of kitchen tools within it. In my mini audit, I was just ensuring that we would have enough knives, cutting boards, and utensils to complete a program for that week (which you will read about soon).

The number one concern that I was aware of, when running the mini audit, is that the knives in our kitchen are really dull, which could cause potential serious injury to beginner cooks. I also noticed that there really wasn’t a standard list of equipment in the kitchen, as a whole or at each unit. This could potentially be the reason why kitchens become unorganized at times. Another red flag I observed was the poor quality of a first aid kit that the kitchen had. They kept the kit in a drawer, unorganized, nothing in one container, and I think the components of this “kit” were outdated towards up to 7 years ago. These things are really important when teaching nutrition education in a kitchen setting, especially with students who have never stepped foot in WVU’s Test Kitchen. Hopefully, these problems will be addressed before we run our next programming in the kitchen.

I definitely think that our program should require students to have training of some extent in “how to run a kitchen audit”. I think it would be beneficial for future use and educate students the importance of knowing what’s in your kitchen so, you can identify any gaps or holes for future programming.

http://www.greeneducationfoundation.org/institute/lesson-clearinghouse/396-Kitchen-Audit.html