Tips on how to SAVE on FOOD COSTS
Author: Rose D.
Tips and advice on how to SAVE on FOOD COSTS by borrowing from Commercial Kitchen menu planning and food storage strategies and techniques.
In commercial kitchens you have to feed and serve hundreds to thousands of people daily. In those settings, there are integral ways to plan, store, and prepare food. With the rising cost of food products, due to: -Increased demand in conjunction with shortages and supply chain issues
-Famine related to flooding and drought, due to climate change in parts of the world affecting food/plant/feed cultivation
-COVID pandemic (illnesses among food workers etc.)
-Armed conflicts (War in Ukraine)
We must be resilient and adaptable in this changing environment. The last two years have taught us that!
As a nutritional professional and a certified food protection manager, I am taught and trained to menu plan and manage food costs for both small- and large-scale food system deliveries, also maintain food safety standards while tailoring to the nutritional needs of individuals and groups.
I wanted to share some tips and advice with you, as you navigate our trying times with food costs. Foremost, you may have to consider some upfront costs on equipment, tools, and memberships/subscriptions; but it will be well worth the cost-effectiveness in the interim and long term.
Equipment, tools, memberships to consider:
• Vacuum Sealers machine and accessories (bags, vacuum pump etc.) - Vacuum Sealer machines can run from $20 at the cheapest and $1000.00+ for commercial ones. Middle range vacuum sealer machines are readily available. These are great to seal bulk purchases; garden staples and bulk end of season leftovers; and fishing/hunting/gaming proteins into more manageable portions. The value of vacuum sealers over plastic baggies or containers is the level of protection and ability to maintain freshness for long stretches in freezing conditions. In a future blog, you can find out more about vacuum sealing.
This Vacuum Sealer Machine by Jeanwin has 5 capabilities through use of its seal bags, air suction hose, and cutter. This runs about $50.00. You can find it here: Amazon
• Small Freezer/Fridge - This is no small purchase. You have to consider available space, cost of electricity usage, and cost of your unit. But if you really want to make an impact on your food costs, an additional freezing source is paramount to that. They can range from the smallest unit at 1.5 cubic feet for ~$160.00 that holds 53lbs of food or 3.5 cubic feet for ~$170.00 holding 123 lbs of food on the low end to 100's of dollars holding more.
This white Insignia™ - 3.5 Cu. Ft. Chest Freezer is a good compact example.
• Freezer friendly storage containers and baggies - Freezer friendly storage containers and baggies may be effective for small batch pre-prepared meals and that won't be stored for too long. These reusable GLCON -16 oz TAirtight wist Top Storage Containers that are BPA Free are a good example.
• Warehouse style/Restaurant food & equipment distributor style store membership (Costco, Sam's, Gordon Food Service etc.) -Many memberships have annual costs for their entry level memberships. While food service distribution companies like Gordon Foods Service (GFS) have free memberships and also provide other amenities like same-day delivery. In the future, we'll discuss strategies for how best to get the most nutritious foods from these locations. Costco Sam's Club Gordon Foods Service (GFS) Membership Tips on Saving on Food Costs: 1# Menu Plan for the Month or Bi-Weekly: By choosing a handful of recipes
As someone who loves a lot of variety in my diet and cooking fresh meals daily; while practicing a measure of intuitive eating, the thought of Menu Planning for a month can be really unappealing and even somewhat daunting. By the same token, as a busy professional and graduate student, the value of menu planning is essential for success and balancing economic costs, good nutrition, and leading a healthy- stress manageable life. If you can find a handful of dishes that you and your family like, that can be prepared and frozen, it is well worth the time and money you will save through menu planning. In fact, some people have even gone as far as hosting Freezer Meal Parties, where they get a group of friends or family members together, buy all the ingredients and prep up to 50 meals each, from 5 or 6 recipes at a time.
2# Budgeting-Recipe Scaling
Once you have accomplished menu planning for the month or broken it down to something more digestible like weekly/bi-weekly menu planning. You can begin to budget. There are many ways to budget. But one way that restaurant industry individuals' budget is through menu scaling. Menu scaling is an effective way to save money because it breaks down the value of each ingredient across multiple recipes. For example, let's say you decided to prep Keto Grass-Fed Beef Baked Tacos to be frozen and consumed for the next two weeks for a family of four. You wanted to have it available for 2 weeks out of the month. You first have to calculate how many burritos each person would consume. Let's say each person eats 2 medium tacos/per day/per week that is about 40 tacos (servings) to make and freeze. Then you will list all the ingredients to purchase and determine the ratio per serving and divide it by cost. Soon you can purchase the: Roots & Rose: RECIPE SCALER & COST CALCULATOR TEMPLATE at our ETSY Store