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Platers Blog

6 SIMPLE TIPS FOR MENU PRICING FOR PLATERS HOME CHEFS

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.

homemade food menu pricing
A quick guide on how to price your food items

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

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 Alfredo:

Fettuccini pasta $.34
Cream $.61
Butter $.33
Parmesan cheese $.54
Romano Cheese $.44
Total: $2.26

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.

homemade food menu pricing
Expensive food items may not mean more profits.

Get Descriptive

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. 

food menu pricing
If something isn’t selling at the price point you want, don’t change the price just yet.

Location

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.
homemade food menu pricing
Keep in mind is where an item is located on the menu

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.

Carbs

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!

homemade food menu pricing
Purchasing in bulk is a great way to increase purchase margin.

Farmers Markets

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.

homemade food menu pricing
Head to the farmer’s market!

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.

homemade food menu pricing
If you don’t use all pieces right away, freeze and save it for later.

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.

About Platers

Platers is Canada’s first homemade food marketplace. Find fresh home cooked food in your neighbourhood, using your phone. Ready to eat, at home or on the go. Our goal is to reduce food waste while re-inventing the dining experience for the better. Passionate cooks provide authentic dishes cooked in their own kitchen. Providing locally made home cooked food in cities across the world.

With zero start-up costs, Platers gives talented cooks the chance to show off their cooking skills and special dishes straight from their own kitchen. At the same time, opening a new avenue that’s different from traditional take out.

Source: Homemadefood app

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Platers Blog

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.

Person Washing Hands Before Cooking

Step #1: Wash Hands Frequently

This step goes without saying, but it’s so important that it can’t be skipped over! The most fundamental way to keep your kitchen AND your food clean is by washing your hands frequently while you cook. Before you begin prepping your ingredients, wash your hands for 30 seconds according to the guidelines provided by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Keep your hands clean throughout your cooking process by washing your hands after touching raw ingredients. Also wash your hands after any activity that requires you to touch other items including smoking, eating, drinking, touching trash, or touching body parts including your face. Germs linger everywhere even in unexpected places, so washing before and after you touch items throughout your home ensures that you keep your kitchen clean as you prepare tasty meals for your customers.

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.

Keeping a Clean Kitchen

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.  

Clean Wooden Kitchen Utensils

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.

Tidy Dry Goods Stored in Pantry

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.

Woman Taking Baked Cookies Out of the Oven

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

Woman Writing Kitchen Cleaning Schedule in Notebook

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! 

Source: HomeMade App

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Platers Blog

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!

Prepare Your Plate

How to professionally plate food for photography
Source: Serious Eats

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 

Use Props to professionally style plate for food photography
Source: @FoodbyMaria/Instagram

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.

Work Your Angles

Finding the perfect angle for food photography
Source: Digital Photography

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!

Find Your Frames

Framing and composition for food photography
Source: A Sweet Pea Chef

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

Professional lighting tips for food photography
Source: Two Loves Studio

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.

Take Your Photo

Camera Settings to use for food photography

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.

Edit Your Photo to Perfection

how to edit photos of food
Source: Shopify

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. 

If you’re not ready to manually edit your images, photo filters are your friend! Download VSCO or similar photo editing apps on your smartphone with preset filters that can add a subtle pop to your photos.

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.

Source: HomeMadefood.app

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