12 Ways To Cut Costs In A Food Truck Kitchen

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 cut 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  list to assist in getting their outside costs down which in turn will help them better the profit for their business.

12 Ways To Cut Costs In Food Truck Kitchens

  1. Buy produce that is in season. Also, keep a strong relationship with your suppliers as this can help you receive special deals from them.
  2. Shop around for different brands. Saving 50¢ per pound could save you $10,000 over the course of an entire year.
  3. 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.
  4. Use old bread to make bread crumbs, stuffing or even a bread pudding.
  5. 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.
  6. Keep a chart of the kitchen’s waste as this can help with ordering to avoid getting too much.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.

The Bottom Line

We hope these tips can be used to help the food truck operators save some time, effort and cut costs. We understand that with 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 followers year after year.

If you have any other suggestions or tips to cut costs, please feel free to add your comments below or on social media. Facebook | Twitter

2017-04-26T09:04:43+00:00 By |Business|

About the Author:

Richard is an architect by degree (Lawrence Technological University, Southfield, Michigan) who began his career in real estate development and architectural planning. In September of 2010 he created Mobile Cuisine Magazine to fill an information void he found when he began researching how to start a mobile hotdog cart in Chicago. Richard found that there was no central repository of mobile street food information anywhere on the internet, and with that, the idea for MCM was born.


  1. Mark May 4, 2012 at 7:36 am

    Thanks for the information.
    Do you think it’s safe or cost effective to buy a used step van then have it modified?
    New step vans are around 55-60k but I don’t want to outfit a truck just to have the engine or transmission go out.
    What’s your advice?

  2. Mobile Cuisine May 4, 2012 at 9:39 am

    If you are going to buy a used vehicle, make sure you have a professional check it out for you…before you buy it.

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