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How to Calculate the Price of Homemade Desserts

When you make desserts for Platers, one of the most difficult tasks is figuring out how to price it out. It is important to determine if you are making a return on your investment. To help you out, we put together some recommendations on how to price out your delicious sweet treats.

What to consider when setting your price

We’ve listed out some important factors that you need to take into consideration before settling on a price.

Ingredients: Think of all the ingredients that you use for your dessert such as salt, sugar, flour, vanilla extract or pieces of fruit. When you buy an ingredient, the entire package or content may not be needed. Knowing that, it is important to figure out the cost of what you actually use when you make your dessert.

Example: You bought 24 eggs at the supermarket and paid \$6.00 but only used 8 eggs in your cake. To calculate the cost, multiply the amount you used by the total price you paid. Then divide that result by the total units in the package: (8 x \$6.00) / 24 = \$2.00

This way, you can get an idea of the cost for each ingredient that you used.

Labor: Learn how to value your labor. The amount of effort that goes into making a carrot cake is not the same as making a chocolate fudge cake. Each cake can take up different amounts of time, requires different skills, talent and techniques. Only you can determine how much you should charge. We suggest that you don’t forget to include labor costs in your final price of your product.

Operating expenses: When making desserts we use utilities such as gas, electricity, water and sometimes the internet! Factor in how much you’re using when you’re making your products and incorporate that usage into your final price.

Profit: Again, this is another element that only you can determine. We recommend a profit between 30% and 40% of your total. However, if you are just starting out in the business, it may be less. Some factors to consider are: the competition in your area, the experience you have making desserts and if you have had any professional training.

All the factors that we listed are important to help you determine a price for your final product. Now it’s time to get down to work and delight your customers with desserts full of love!

Start sharing food and reducing waste today! Sign up to become a home cook!

Source: Savorly

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Under Alberta’s new regulations in 2020, Albertans can sell low risk home prepared foods without requiring a permit, commercial kitchen, or routine inspection! Finally!

What are Low Risk Foods?

Low-risk foods are shelf-stable such as; bread, biscuits, cereals, cookies, honey pies, pickled vegetables, dried fruits, popcorn and cakes (not cream or cheesecakes). Whole fresh fruits and vegetables are also classified as lower risk. Such foods are unlikely to be implicated in food poisoning and include:

• foods that have been preserved, for example; jams, jellies, fruit preserves
• dry goods, those that contain minimal amounts of moisture, such as; bread, flour, biscuits, dried spice blends,
• acidic foods, for example; pickled foods, vinegar, fruit
• foods with high sugar/fat content for example; candies and chocolates

Home-based Food Business Foods with high value, and a long shelf-life.

Sauces, but only those that can be produced in the home kitchen. Hot sauce, barbecue sauce, mustard, vinegar, cooked salsa, ketchup, relish. Do you see a theme here? Condiments. Products that complement and bring flavour and zing to the mundane. Everybody’s looking for flavour! Baked goods top the low risk food list for sales in high traffic locations. Here are a few more popular low risk food selections.

• Candy, such as brittle, toffee and exotic chocolates.
• Chocolate-covered nonperishable foods, such as nuts and dried fruits.
• Dried fruit.
• Dried pasta.
• Dry baking mixes.
• Granola, cereals, and trail mixes.
• Jams, jellies, preserves, and fruit butter that comply with cottage food standards.
• Vinegar and mustard.
• Roasted coffee and dried tea.
• Dried or Dehydrated vegetables.
• Dried vegetarian-based soup mixes.
• Ground chocolate, or chocolate blends used in cooking and baking.

Cook with Platers and start earning! Become a Plater, limited spots available for Edmonton, Alberta. Apply Today

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Edmontontonian’s Garbage Contains Nearly 25% Food Waste

In Canada, approximately 47% of all food waste is produced at the consumer level. Amounting to over \$31 billion in losses or about \$1,760 annually per family of four. This is wasting natural and human resources used to grow, produce, process, and transport the food. Leading to environmental, economic, and social implications.

Environmentally, food waste is estimated to produce 7% of greenhouse gases globally. Food that ends up in the landfill takes significantly longer to breakdown due to the lack of oxygen. This anaerobic environment creates methane gas, instead of carbon dioxide, which is 21 times more potent and damaging to the atmosphere. All of this, from preventable food waste!

Based on annual averages, the average Edmontontonian’s garbage contains 22- 26% food waste. Commonly, from buying or making too much and not using it before it spoils. An opportunity exists to reduce consumer food waste through Platers. On our platform, home cooks can participate in lowering food waste averages by sharing food, instead of throwing it out.

Start sharing food and reducing waste today! Sign up to become a home cook!

Source: Change for Climate Edmonton

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9 Simple Steps to Keep Your Home Kitchen Clean

Have you ever heard the phrase, ‘A clean home is a happy home?’ Well this phrase especially applies to the heart of the home, better known as the kitchen. Whether you’re cooking for your loved ones or cooking for hungry customers who ordered from your menu on the Platers App, maintaining a clean kitchen is the single most important part of your preparation process. Good kitchen hygiene ensures that people can enjoy your delicious food while remaining happy, healthy, and worry-free — which is the key to keeping your customers coming back for more.

Ready to learn how to keep your kitchen clean while cooking delicious meals for your home-based restaurant? You’ve come to the right place!  Here are 9 simple hacks to keep your kitchen squeaky clean as you prepare meals.

Step #1: Wash Hands Frequently

Pro Tip: We know it’s hard to stop scrolling, but you can keep your hands extra clean by minimizing phone use while cooking. Phones hold more gems than almost any other item we use in our day to day lives.

Step #2: Create a clean cooking space

There’s nothing like the feeling of creating a tasty meal in a clean kitchen! It gives you the physical AND the mental space to get creative with your meals, plus it ensures that everything your food touches is squeaky clean and germ-free. Before you begin cooking wash any dirty dishes, clear away any clutter, and wipe down your countertops and sink thoroughly. You can use sanitary wipes or bleach diluted in water to disinfect any surfaces — both options work just fine!

Pro Tip: To keep your kitchen clean while cooking, have your go-to cleaning products and sanitary supplies close by so that you can tidy up as you go. Make sure to reset your space by cleaning up any sticky spills after prepping each ingredient to prevent any cross-contaminations or spreading of germs.

Step #3: Sanitize Your Cooking Utensils

Your cooking utensils are some of the most important tools you’ll use in the kitchen, which makes it all the more important for them to be sanitized before they touch any food you’ll be preparing. Before you get to cooking, sanitize your cooking utensils by washing any dishes, pots, and pans and detachable pieces such as blades or handles in hot soapy water. Rinse them in clean water to remove any excess soap or residue, then place your items in a container and submerge them in a sanitizing solution. You can create your own solution by mixing 1 tablespoon unscented chlorine bleach in 1 gallon of warm (not hot) water. Remove your utensils from the solution and let them dry fully before using them to cook. Also, no double-dipping! Do not reuse the same utensils while cooking unless you thoroughly clean them first — especially if you are the designated taste tester.

Pro Tip: Use a different cutting board for the different categories of food you work with so that you never cross-contaminate. This is not only important for sanitation, but it is important to prevent cross-contamination that can cause your customers to become sick or have allergic reactions. We recommend purchasing a pack of color-coded cutting boards to ensure that you never cut up your meat and vegetables on the same board.

Step #4: Use Best Practices for Washing & Storing Ingredients

Now that your cooking area and utensils are clean, it’s time to make sure the ingredients you’ll be cooking with are clean too. Fresh produce such as fruits and vegetables should be washed under cold running tap water. DO NOT use soap or detergent to wash your produce — cold water works just fine to safely remove dirt. Once your produce is clean, cut any damaged or bruised areas and refrain from using them since bacteria can thrive in these areas of fresh produce. Wash and chop your produce, then immediately place it in the refrigerator to keep it fresh and safe to eat.

After all the hard work you’ve done to clean your kitchen, you wouldn’t want it all to go to waste by spreading even more germs in the process, right? According to the USDA, it is not recommended to wash raw poultry and meat because bacteria can easily spread to other foods utensils and surfaces.  The best way to keep your meat bacteria-free is to simply cook it at a minimum internal temperature of 145 °F. This is also the best way to maintain the highest kitchen sanitation standards by preventing the spread of food-borne bacteria from splashing over different surfaces where you typically prepare meals.

Step #5: Keep Your Prep & Cooking Space Dry at All Times

Damp areas in your kitchen are the perfect breeding ground for bacteria to spread, so do not let wet items sit around for too long. Wipe up any spills or messes made while you’re cooking as soon as they happen. Instead of using sponges and towels so frequently, consider using disposable paper towels or wipes.

Also remember to disinfect your hand towels and sponges weekly. You can throw your kitchen towels into the washing machine with your laundry. To clean your sponges, saturate them in water and microwave for 1 to 2 minutes, then dry thoroughly. Or you can soak your sponges in bleach or vinegar to disinfect them before rinsing them out.

Step #6: Handle the disposal of waste and garbage properly

Cooking can easily become a messy task that leads to the accumulation of tons of trash — especially when you’re cooking for a large number of people. Don’t let your garbage pile up on you while you cook! Keep separate disposal methods handy for the different types of garbage you’ll create: one for cans or bottles such as a recycling bin, and one for scraps of food such as a compost bowl.  This will help you skip multiple steps during your post-cleanup routine and it will lower the risk of any potential cross-contamination of bacteria.

Step #7: Be aware of recommended cooking times for all ingredients

When cooking for customers of your home kitchen, adhering to all recommended cooking times for ingredients, especially raw foods, is essential to kitchen sanitation. Cooking times aren’t only important because they ensure that your meals are fully cooked and ready to eat, they’re also important because they ensure that the ingredients have been cooked long enough to kill any bacteria or germs.

Thaw foods by using the refrigerator, microwave, oven, or by placing sealed packages in cold running water. Do not thaw food on your kitchen counter under any circumstances. The outer layers of the food will warm before the inside thaws, and bacteria will grow and spread in these conditions.

If you can’t serve your food immediately once it is hot and fresh out of the oven, put it in the fridge or freezer as soon as it’s cooled or within 2 hours of preparation.

Step #8: Keep Your Meal Packaging Sanitary

Since your customers will be picking up their tasty meals to go, you want to make sure their food stays clean and germ-free from beginning to end! Before you pack their meals in your preferred packaging, thoroughly sanitize and dry them. Similar to your cooking utensils, you can sanitize your meal packaging by washing them in hot soapy water. Rinse them in clean water to remove any excess soap or residue, then let them dry fully before packing your meal orders. For the safest meal packaging options for your to-go orders use new, disposable packaging such as biodegradable and compostable food packaging items to minimize single use plastic or styrofoam waste and stay eco-friendly. You can google several companies offering multiple biodegradable container options in bulk such as Be Green Packaging

Step #9: Have a Cleaning calendar for overall kitchen maintenance

Prepping your kitchen to cook will always require some additional time, but you can make this process a bit easier for yourself by creating a regular routine for cleaning different parts of your kitchen.

A cleaning schedule is essential for your home-based restaurant because it ensures all food preparation areas are kept clean and sanitized at all times. It also creates a simple and easy reference for everything that needs to be done to keep each area of the kitchen clean.

To create a cleaning schedule, walk through your kitchen and make a list of all the items that need to be cleaned on a regular basis. Include everything from pots, pans, and equipment to walls, floors, and doorknobs. Once you have everything listed, take notes on how it is cleaned, how often it needs to be cleaned, and what materials are needed to clean it. Break this list down into daily, weekly, and monthly tasks and add this schedule to your phone so you can always make sure that your kitchen is nice and clean before preparing meals for your customers.

Proper sanitary practices have always been important but amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s become even more essential for the food industry to gain the trust of their customers by taking the utmost care to create the safest and healthiest experience possible. Follow these simple kitchen cleaning steps to keep your cooking space squeaky clean so your customers can enjoy your tasty food without the fear of catching germs! If you have any questions about the best kitchen cleaning practices, please don’t hesitate to contact our team at the Platers – we’d be happy to help!

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Food Photography for Home-Based Chefs – Complete Guide

Have you ever scrolled through your Instagram feed and immediately stopped at the sight of a mouth-watering image of food? Well, that’s exactly how you want people to feel when they see photos of your food on your Platers app menu! Good food photography speaks a thousand words, and in order to guarantee success for your home-based cooking business, you need to capture the attention of foodies with eye-catching imagery that makes them ready to select ‘add to cart’. Whether you’re a novice with an iPhone or an expert with professional photography equipment, follow this complete guide to learn how to capture beautiful food selfies that’ll keep your Platers app customers coming back for more!

When you’re selling food as a home-based chef, your food doesn’t only have to taste good; it has to look good too! Before you pull out your iPhone or professional camera, it’s a MUST that you neatly plate your food. Trust us; there’s no editing your way around this important step!

Although your food will likely be served to customers in to-go containers, it’s never a bad idea to style your plate on nicer plateware for their big photo debut. Pull out your favorite dishware or pick up something special from a local store to create a stylish base for your tasty meal.

WARNING: Every dish will photograph very differently. Dishes that naturally have plenty of color and texture give you a lot to work with, but dishes with minimal or duller colors don’t look as appetizing on camera. Spruce your dish up a bit by adding colorful herbs or garnishes such as cheese, parsley, or extra fruit that add some dimension and flare to your dish.

Pro Tip: Don’t false advertise! Make sure that the serving sizes used in your photos are accurate to how much food people will actually receive in their order.

Collect Food Photography Props

Your food is looking good! Now it’s time to really up your game by getting creative with food photography props. Think about the vibe that you want to set for each dish: would you like a rustic, vintage aesthetic? Or maybe you prefer visuals that are clean and crisp? Regardless of your preference, you can find great affordable props at consignment stores or even bargain marts. If you really want to create a #repost worthy lifestyle shot, incorporate natural elements such as some of the fresh vegetables you used to prepare your dish, or add in some cooking equipment such a cutting board and knives to show that you really mean business.

You can even create a full table setting that really helps your future customers envision themselves chowing down on your food, or create a signature look for your brand with a fun backdrop that you can use in all of your future food photography for your profile.

Pro Trip: Be careful not to include too much color with your food photography props. If the colors are too distracting, they’ll take away for your dish rather than complimenting it.

What are the best qualities of your camera-ready dish? Is it a sky high burger with plenty of tasty toppings, or a plate of paella filled with delicious varieties of seafood? It is served in a small dish or on a huge platter? These answers will help you figure out what parts of your dish you want to highlight, and what angle you’ll want to shoot from to get the best view. Once you’ve figured these details out,  position your camera accordingly.

For sandwiches and burgers, it’s typically better to shoot them from a side angle so that people can see its size and all of the tasty toppings inside. Soups and salads are commonly shot from directly above so that hungry customers can savour all of the flavours with a bird’s eye view. If you really want to make Platers app users hungry, close up shots of dishes are always a huge winner!

Pro Tip: If your dish contains a tasty filling, cut it open and let the filling ooze out to make your food look even more irresistible!

Your dish is almost ready for it’s big on-camera debut! But before you press the shutter button on your smartphone or your professional camera, you have to give your photo some visual interest by making sure that the frame it just right. Framing is one of the most important lessons in food photography because it determines what elements of the photo naturally attract the eye. While your excellent plating and cool props compliment your dish, your framing will ensure that your food remains the star of the show.

The easiest way to figure out how to frame your shot is by using the ‘rule of thirds’: a photography technique that applies to the overall composition of a photograph and where the main subject lies within the shot. To follow the rule of thirds, simply imagine that a grid is placed over your photo. Your dish should be placed along these lines or at their intersections to guarantee that it’ll catch your customers’ eye.

Pro Tip: Avoid posting photos that are too justified to the right or the left on your Platers profile to ensure that no important parts of your dish are cut out in your thumbnails.

Chase the Light

Lighting equipment is useful, but nothing beats natural lighting if you have access to it. Shoot close to a window or even outside if possible to take advantage of incredible and free lighting that will showcase every flavor of your dish in HD.

If you’re shooting indoors, grab some baking paper from your cabinet to diffuse the light by taping it to the glass. This will prevent the light from being too harsh and overexposing details in your photo. Play around with your angles to find just the right spot for your dish to catch the light! If you prefer to shoot outdoors, golden hour is the best hour. Invest in a reflector or create a makeshift bounce card out of white cardboard so that you can control where the light hits to capture your perfect shot.

Pro Tip: Set up your dish and your props on a movable surface that allows you to move around until you find the right lighting.

It’s the big moment — time to take your photo! But you need a few tips first to make sure all of your hard work up to this point won’t be in vain. If you have a tripod, now’s the time to use it to ensure the camera doesn’t move around so your photos come out crisp and blur-free. If you don’t have a tripod, adjust the aperture settings on your professional camera to aperture priority (Av) mode to help  avoid blurry shots , or keep things simple by using a smart phone with automatic settings.

Yay! You’ve taken some great photos of dishes for your Platers app menu. But there’s always room for improvement! Edit your photos with Photoshop, Lightroom, or even Preview to take them from good to great. Here are some common problem areas for photos that can be fixed with editing.

White Balance
This helps to balance the colors in your photos and get rid of blue or yellow hues from unattractive lighting. Using the white balance tool on your preferred editing software, click on a spot in your image that should be a neutral white or gray and adjust until they are the right color. You can also manually adjust the color balance using the temperature and hue sliders.

Contrast, Brightness, and Saturation
These settings are the key to really bringing out the very best out of your food photography. Slightly adjust these settings to restore dull colors or low contrast in your photo, but avoid over editing that can lead to blurriness or unflattering colors.

With these food photography techniques and some practice, you’ll be a food photography pro in no time! Please feel free to reach out to the Platers team if have any questions about food photography for beginners or useful resources to help you improve your skills. Drop us a line by clicking here.

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Studies Show Homemade Food is Healthier

A Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health research study shows that people who frequently cook meals at home eat healthier and consume fewer calories than those who cook less.  Researchers evaluated more than 9,000 meals prepared at home.  On average, homemade meals contain more vegetables, less carbohydrates, and less fat than any other meal.  Study researchers also concluded that people who eat homemade food also go less often to fast food chains.  According to Julia A. Wolfson, the main author of the study, these conclusions apply even when the person who is cooking isn’t trying to lose weight.

Similarly, research presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific 2015 revealed that people who ate about two homemade lunches or dinners each day (or 11 – 14 meals per week) had a 13%t lower risk of developing Type 2 diabetes compared to those who ate less than six homemade meals a week.

So why is homemade food so much better?

We all know that cooking our own food, or cutting back at eating out at restaurants is a healthy habit to build.. but why?  Well there are several factors that play info it, namely:

• Hidden Calories, Fat & Sodium in Restaurant Food
Restaurants utilize various techniques to add flavor to their food, such as incorporating butter, cream, sugar or sodium to enhance flavors in their dishes, which as a result, adds extra unnecessary calories, saturated fat and cholesterol to meals.  Furthermore, to keep food costs low, some restaurants will utilize highly-processed ingredients in their recipes, such as low-quality oils or high-fructose corn syrup.Data shows that adults consume an additional 200 calories on days they eat at a restaurant.  The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) studied data from over 12,000 adults between the ages of 20 and 64, from 2003 to 2010.  Study participants visited fast food and full-service restaurants on two consecutive days.  On days the participants ate at a restaurant, data consistently showed an increase in caloric intake, saturated fat, sugar, and sodium.
• Homemade uses Simple & Natural Ingredients
Homemade recipes utilize a simple array of ingredients, that are natural, such as fresh vegetables, and minimally processed.  Additionally, processed foods contain artificial preservatives, to keep the food tasting better for a longer period of time. This great infographic below (courtesy of http://www.lchef.com/) depicts just how complicated and unnatural eating processed foods can be:
• Homemade is local and fresh
You probably hear the mantras of ‘eating local’ or ‘farm to table’ movements all around you, but why is it so important?  Is it actually a thing?  Turns out YES… there are nutritional benefits behind eating locally sourced and locally prepared food.  Restaurants typically source their ingredients from large food distributors who provide products in bulk, and thus the wholesalers themselves are purchasing huge lots of these items from sources all around the world.  These products can take long trips, with many warehouse stops on the way, to actually get into the meal you order at the restaurant.  Purchasing ingredients at the grocery store can still get you products that have been imported, but at least the time from when a homecook takes their groceries home and utilizes them in a meal are typically less than compared to a restaurant setting.On a similar note, restaurants typically prep the main components of their dishes early in the morning, before actual opening hours, and just ‘assemble’ or heat items when a customer places an order.  For example, the vegetables to be used that week can be sliced and diced 6-8 hours before they are even used in a dish.  This causes immediate oxidation of the vegetable / fruit, leading to depletion of its antioxidant and vitamin levels.

At Platers, we take trust and safety very seriously. Although cooks on our platform are ultimately responsible for food safety, they are vetted by the Platers team and are held to high standards. Platers has created its own approval process that each cook must complete before they can offer food on the platform.

Our team understand the importance of providing homemade, natural, and wholesome food options, and helping busy families incorporate these healthy habits into their schedules.  We also understand that not everyone has the luxury of time, or talent, to cook their owns meals everyday. Let Platers approved home cooks & bakers help you experience a revolutionary way of dining.

Are you a talented cook? Apply and become a Plater.

Source: Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, Dishdivvy