Portion Control: Reduce Inventory Costs in Your Pizzeria

By Elizabeth Kelly

Pizzeria margins are slim, so controlling costs is critical to staying profitable. After labor, inventory makes up the bulk of controllable expenses. Waste and over-use of ingredients add up quickly, and affect your bottom-line. Over-usage can be an invisible profit drain, if it isn’t detected and included in your food cost calculations.

Keep Portions Consistent

The first step to reducing over-use is good portion control, and a consistent menu that has been properly costed out. Go through your menu and make sure it's been designed with reasonable food costs that will generate a profit. Next, standardize the recipes for every menu item—including create-your-own pizzas.

If you’ve been free-handing your pizza toppings since you opened, now is the time to work out exactly how much of each topping should be on each pizza. Record this as part of the recipe, and update your recipe in your point of sale, and at the makeline.

Weigh and Measure:

Once you know how much of each topping should be put on a pizza, it’s important to maintain consistency by measuring and weighing the ingredients each and every time. All members of your staff should be doing this, including you. In this article in Pizza Today, Jeffrey Freehof suggests using scales for meat, portion cups for cheese, and ladles for sauces.

If you find weighing and measuring too time consuming during the dinner and lunch rushes, add it to your prep-plan. Pre-weighing meat during slow times allows you to have accurate portions while speeding up your makeline.

Display the Recipes:

Make it easy for your staff to see portions for each ingredient. Display a portion chart (a table listing recipes for each pizza type and size) in plain view of your make line, or better yet, add the portions directly to the make-ticket. Point of sale systems like SpeedLine allow you to add the weights and measures of each ingredient for each menu item. That information is then printed on the make-ticket or displayed on your kitchen displays. This is especially useful for create-your-own and half-n-half menu items, which aren’t the easiest to display on a portion chart.

Mike Bausch, owner of Andolini's Pizza in Tulsa, suggested creating videos and detailed charts at the 2019 Pizza Expo. He has a binder with laminated copies of all of his recipes at each location, and ensures the instructions are as detailed as possible, and include photos. He lists how many pepperoni slices should be in each ring on each size pizza, and how much of each topic should be used. 

Being overly detailed in instructions and training isn't talking down to your employees. It's ensuring consistency. Everyone has their own way of doing things, but it's the employees' job to ensure each pizza is consistently good. 

Prep Plans:

Go a step further and reduce waste by using forecasts to develop your daily and weekly prep plan. Prepping too much will lead to spoilage and waste, which leads to profit loss. Learn more about prep plans in this post.

Portion Control Isn’t Only Good for the Bottom Line

Consistency isn’t only good for your bottom line--it’s good for your customers too. Over portioning ingredients, especially toppings like cheese and meats, creates false expectations for your customers.

Imagine this situation: A customer comes in and orders a large pepperoni pizza. Your staff are free-handing toppings, and make it with more than the standard amount of cheese, and a little extra pepperoni. The customer eating the pizza assumes the portions are normal. The next time he comes in, perhaps different staff use less cheese and pepperoni. The customer isn’t very happy to pay the same money for less toppings than he got previously, and he may not come back for a third visit.

Stay on Top of Inventory Costs

Portion control is only one part of your inventory management, but it can save you thousands if done properly and maintained. Double check that your employees are properly following your portion control guidelines from time to time: pull items off the make-line and weigh the key ingredients. If the weights aren’t right, provide more training for your staff.

Monitor your inventory closely, and make use of inventory tracking software. Inventory software integrated with your point of sale system can calculate how much of each ingredient should have been used for each menu item sold. Comparing those numbers with your actual inventory count each week tells you how much inventory you are losing to spoilage, waste, or possible theft.

Controlling Food Costs with Inventory Software: Top Tips for Success


Posted on Wed, Apr 24, 2019 @ 07:04 AM.
Updated on April 7, 2020 @ 7:42 PM PST.

Posted by Elizabeth Kelly

As the Marketing Specialist for SpeedLine Solutions Inc., Elizabeth is the Managing Editor for On Point: The Restaurant Technology Blog. Have an idea for an article? Send her a message!

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Tags: Restaurant Management, SpeedLine Inventory

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