So you’re thinking about becoming a home chef? Or maybe you are, but have never taken the time to sit down and calculate your food costs. Menu pricing for home chefs isn’t something that most home chefs jump up and down to do; but it is a critical part of running a successful, profitable home kitchen. So kick up your feet, pour yourself a glass of wine and let’s get this home chefs guide to menu pricing started!
Food costs are a crucial part of knowing how much you should charge for an item; not to mention where to position it on the menu (more about that later). Once you take the time to know how much a dish costs you and how much time you are spending on creating the dish, this will give you the numbers that you need to simply calculate. And viola, your have your price point for your dish.
Mind you, some home chefs also like to equate how much time and energy goes into shopping and prepping when it comes to menu pricing but that all depends on you. Either way, it’s important to take the time to sit down and put some effort into this. Selling your home cooked food and starting a home kitchen is a business. And businesses are in the business to make money.
Now, we get it; pricing your menu can be a daunting task for any home chef. Especially if you’ve never done it before. But no worries, HomeMade is here to walk you through step-by-step on how to do so.
Food cost should be between 20-35% of what you charge the client. Cost is calculated by simply adding up the total cost of the ingredients used to make the dish. Let’s say you are making Fettuccini Alfredo for example. First, calculate the total for all the ingredients. (Keep in mind this example is for one serving size.)
Fettuccini pasta $.34
Parmesan cheese $.54
Romano Cheese $.44
If you are looking to keep you food costs at 25%; take the total of $2.26 and divide it by .25 (change this according to your food costs percentage) to come up with the total amount of $9.04 per dish.
Again, some chefs like to include how much time and energy goes into making the dish (shopping, prepping, etc) but that is entirely up to you.
Once you figure out how much you want to charge, keep in mind never to use a whole number. Take the fettuccini pasta dish for example; you would not want to charge $9.00 for a pasta dish, price it at either $8.99 or $9.95. Studies shows that people feel like they are getting a better deal and will more likely purchase the item at $8.99 or $9.95 versus $9 or $10.
Keep in mind, just because something is more expensive doesn’t necessarily mean it’s more profitable. Hence why calculating food costs is an important exercise home chefs should do when they are coming up with menu pricing.
If something isn’t selling at the price point you want, don’t change the price just yet. Play around with the name and food description. For instance, if you have “Crab Cake” on your menu and it’s not selling, try changing it to “Jumbo Lump Alaskan Crab Cake” or something more descriptive. A simple swap in the name can make a huge difference if an item is selling or not regardless of the price.
Don’t forget to get creative when writing the description for your menu item. Customers love a good story. Talk about what inspired the dish, family traditions, fun facts about the ingredients, so on and so forth. The better the description, the more the customer will be inclined to purchase it.
The next thing you need to keep in mind is where an item is located on the menu. If it’s the third one down try placing it first. Believe it or not psychology plays a big role when it comes to customers purchasing items. Location, description and even colors impact a purchase decision. Play around and have fun with it. It takes time to know what works for your customers.
While we are on that note of psychology, use psychology to your advantage in regard to your menu. While you can’t change the color in your actual menu titles and descriptions on the HomeMade app, you can incorporate it in your food photos. So here are some helpful tips to keep in mind when styling your food pics:
- Green: reminds people of nature and tends to trigger thoughts of healthy and fresh food. It’s also been known to linked to good flavor.
- Red is an attention-grabber. You can use red to guide people to the dishes you really want them to order.
- Yellow and orange stimulate appetite.
Now that you’ve got the basics down for optimizing your menu and food costs; here are some other tips and tricks to help maximize your profits.
Incorporating carbs into your dish is a great way to increase your profit margin and simplify your life. Carbs are relatively cheap, taste good and fill people up; not to mention are easy to purchase in bulk and store. Pro Tip: purchasing in bulk is another great way to increase your purchase margin. Cha-ching!
If you are lucky enough to live in a town that has a farmers market, use it. Not only is the produce fresh, loaded with flavor and a lot healthier; it’s also is a great opportunity to score some amazing deals. Many vendors will drastically cut their prices towards the end of the market. Let’s say the Farmer’s Market runs from 12-4. Try going within the last 30 minutes or so. Many vendors will be offer discounts such as 1/2 off and 3 for 1 deals. They’re not in the art of wasting time or money and neither should you. So take advantage of it.
Buy Whole Items
As a home chef who is trying to minimize your food costs and maximize profits with your home kitchen, you might want to thinking about purchasing whole items that your recipes call for. Let’s say a dish you are making requires chicken. Buy the whole chicken versus just the breast or thigh. Break it down and use the breast for salad, the thighs for another entrees and the carcass for broth. Breaking down the item yourself will save you money hence increase your profit margin in the long run.
If you don’t use all the pieces right away, freeze it and save it for later. That way it saves you time and money from running out to the store again so that you can focus on what you need to be focusing on…cooking. And again, editing your menu on the HomeMade app is super easy. So play around with you. Find out what works for you.
Are you a home chef? If so, comment below on any tips or tricks that you’ve learned along the way. We would love to hear from you.
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Source: Homemadefood app