What do you consider when thinking about a successful food truck? A truck that always has full lines each time it parks or one that consistently brings in a good profit? There is a fine between running a profitable food truck and one that costs more money to run than it brings in. The key is to become a cost effective food truck.

Many believe that with superstar talent in the kitchen of a food truck, paying the bills will take care of itself. Unfortunately, as the food truck industry continues to grow, customers have become more discriminating with the trucks they are willing to purchase from, so finding a balance between good food and profitability has become an art for vendors.

Only the most successful food trucks are in sync with their customers’ needs and are able to offer a good value dish while still maximizing their profit margin.  For many, it’s often a hit and miss process, which can lead to a food truck’s demise.

Running A More Cost Effective Food Truck

To become a cost effective food truck, reduce your costs and your make buying decisions more efficient.


  • Do you know how much money you make (or lose) on a serving of each different dish on your food truck’s menu? No? Well you should. Know what items make you money (and how much) and which ones you should remove. This is extremely valuable information.
  • Leave all of the guesswork out of pricing your dishes. Determine your market’s food truck price point. This will keep you from pricing too high, but at the same time, you won’t undervalue your food by charging too little.


  • Maximize your yield percentages. Try and not waste anything when using your ingredients to become a cost effective food truck. You can buy the best produce and make it profitable by using everything.  For example, if you are filleting a fish, don’t throw away the carcass; you can still use it to make a fish stock.
  • Go local. Ingredients that are produced locally and are in season are typically less expensive to source.
  • Don’t spend money on services you don’t need. If can make it, or butcher it yourself, do it, you’re a chef and the more often you do a task, you’ll be able to cut down on the time it takes to do a task such as making bread or breaking down a chicken.
  • Regularly review your suppliers, shop around as there may be new ones that offer better quality or charge less. Also, never be afraid to send food back (if your food items are delivered) if the quality isn’t what your specifications require. Use our Food Truck Supplier Directory to assist you.


  • Portion control. You must start using portioning for every item that leaves your truck’s service window. If you and your staff are serving huge containers, your profit go down the drain. Also, customers will have less room for other items and thus spend less at your truck.
  • Don’t buy more fresh produce than you can use just because it’s on sale. If it is perishable and you’re not able to sell it, ultimately it’s just a waste. That’s what a cost effective food truck will avoid.
  • Follow recipes: Do you and your food truck staff always cook each menu item the same way or do you add different amounts of ingredients? If you don’t follow the same recipe. Follow it to the letter. Not only are you giving your customers an inconsistent dining experience, but you are probably also wasting ingredients and this is not what a cost effective food truck does.

Additional Cost Effective Food Truck Tips

  • Create some vegetarian dishes for your menu. Make them delicious, unique and something that customers will keep coming back for. Remember that these plates aren’t just eaten by vegetarians, and thy typically carry higher profit margins.
  • Keep your menu limited so you don’t have to have a bunch of food left over every day that you may have to throw away if it isn’t bought.
  • Train your staff to be frugal with your money and show them your expenses. This awareness may cause them to more willing try to reduce them.

RELATED: 6 Accounting Equations To Know For Your Food Truck Business

The Bottom Line

There’s no easy formula for running a cost effective food truck because there are so many factors that enter into it. If we could only provide a single tip, it would be to brush up on your figures so you know what every dish on your menu costs to prepare, and how much profit you make each time you sell them.

If you have some advice on becoming a cost effective food truck then please share it in the comment section or social media Twitter | Facebook