Your food truck business will only be as good as the food that you serve. This means that you will have to properly outfit your truck’s kitchen so that you can provide high quality meals. Stocking a food truck kitchen is typically one of the highest expenses new truck owners run into, so be prepared.
To be prepared and to be able to minimize this initial out pouring of funds you must know what you will need to purchase and what your options are. This will help you from exceeding your budget.
Plan Your Menu
This may seem like an obvious step in the process, but if you plan your menu first, you will have a much easier time figuring out the equipment that your truck will need. Take the time to decide on what foods you will be offering on your menu. A food truck offering grilled food will need a flat top; a pizza truck, a pizza oven and so on.
The menu items you offer are not only reliant on your truck’s concept, but also on the size of your mobile kitchen. Keep in mind that you will need a kitchen large enough to prepare what you plan on offering. If your truck is too small, this will limit your storage and the size of your staff. Plan the size of your food truck kitchen accordingly. This will help you determine what you can purchase that will fit in it comfortably.
Now that you know what your menu items are, it will be easier for you to figure out what equipment you will need in order to make those items. Chances are that no matter what you will be making, you will need commercial refrigeration and some type of commercial oven, range, flat top or fryer(s).
You will also need work tables in order to set up food stations that will make prep easier for your cooks. If you are cooking on board your truck you will also need to purchase items such as hand and three compartment sinks in order to meet health department regulations.
Cookware is certainly an important component of a food truck kitchen. Again, depending on your menu items, you will need to choose what type of cookware you will need. These choices may be based on availability, meaning that you can purchase discounted cookware in your area, or preferences such as; you like cast iron or stainless steel cookware. There are many choices in cookware and you will need an understanding of what works best for the items you plan to serve your customers.
Kitchen utensils tend to be more universal than equipment or cookware. Most concepts will need knives, cutting boards, tongs and spatulas. Kitchen utensils can usually be purchased by the dozen or half dozen from restaurant supply stores at discounted prices, so that you can have enough utensils to prepare and cook all the items on your menu throughout the day, without having to constantly wash them.
Perhaps less costly than your other purchasing requirements, but also important, are staff uniforms. You should choose good quality, matching uniforms that will last under tough food truck kitchen conditions.
Many food truck owners have used branded T-shirts to outfit their entire staff while others have shirts for service staff and chef coats branded as the uniforms for their kitchen staff. If designed properly, your uniforms can provide a source of pride for your food truck employees.
Making Your Purchases
Now that you know what you need, you can move on to making your purchases. Your budget will determine the bulk of your purchasing options. If you landed generous investors who want to create an amazing food truck with brand new commercial kitchen equipment, then you will need to search for your best options for discounts, delivery and warranties on new equipment.
There are also commercial retail discount stores that you can purchase from. Many times, these stores will include items that are ‘out of style’ and are no longer carried in the retail stores. Often this merchandise comes with warranties, giving you added security.
If you are operating on a small budget, you can choose to purchase second hand equipment and supplies. Perhaps you can locate a restaurant or food truck that is going out of business. You may be able to purchase their used equipment and cookware for a much lower price than you would pay retail. You may not get the option of a warranty, but the cost difference may be well worth it.
As you can see, properly outfitting your food truck kitchen is a huge endeavor and investment and one that will help you be successful in your mobile food venture.