Mobile food operations are often run on very tight budgets and are usually configured only after the operator’s incoming food costs are determined. It is difficult to control these costs since you do not set them yourself, however there are some measures a truck owner can use to lower those costs.
We have put together this ten item list to assist these entrepreneurs in getting their outside costs down which in turn will help them better the profit for their business. Please note that some of these items will not cover every type of cuisine being sold today, each can be modified to fit your truck’s needs.
- Buy produce that is in season. Also, keep a strong relationship with your suppliers as this can help you receive special deals from them.
- Shop around for different brands. Saving 50¢ per pound could save you $10,000 over the course of an entire year.
- Make as many things as you can from scratch. Soup bases are easy to make and only a fraction of the cost of those store bought.
- Use old bread to make bread crumbs, stuffing or even a bread pudding.
- Watch what is thrown out. Since many mobile eateries provide trash disposal containers for their customers, spend some time investigating your customers waste by studying what has been left in the bin. If there are always chips or salad left on their plates this may mean that too much is going out to the customer. Reduce the serving size of these items by 25% will dramatically reduce your food cost.
- Keep a chart of the kitchen’s waste as this can help with ordering to avoid getting too much.
- Use proper equipment for portioning. Using a cup to place the mashed potato on the plate ensures everyone gets the exact same portion whereas scooping it with a spoon could mean over-portioning on several plates a night, especially when busy. This also goes would apply for rice, pasta, vegetables, risotto etc. You can pre-portion these things into containers before service as well.
- Spend some money on additional equipment. This could mean a reduction of your waste in the long run. Slicing your own meat on meat slicers will reduce the price per pound and you can get thinner slices creating more production. Tomato slicers are also good, both for consistency and for time.
- Look at your garnish. Are you giving a huge sprig of parsley to finish off a dish? Instead, try a celery leaf. Also, pineapple leaves are a great alternative to mint.
- Daily specials are a great way to use up excess food and it keeps the staff fresh and may add alternative options for the customer.
- Concentrate on the culinary skills of your kitchen team, for example make sure they’re never losing the good parts of the meat and vegetables when trimming. A little guidance early on in their training can mean a reduction in production waste in the long run.
- Vegetable off-cuts such as tomato ends and broccoli stalks can be used to make soups. Or even chop them up and toss through a pasta. Fruit trimmings can be used to make a puree for desserts.
We hope these tips can be used to help the food truck operators save some time, effort and money. We understand that with their daily growing competition they are required to keep their prices in line, while at the same time, maximize their profits so they can stay on the road serving their adoring followings year after year.
If you have any other suggestions or tips, please feel free to add your comments below. We would love to add to this list in an attempt to help the food truck owners in the industry.