Food Presentation Can Lead to Healthier Selections in Cafeterias

school-lunch-presentation

There has been a push in the last several years for cafeterias to offer healthier food options. The U.S. Department of Agriculture, for example, passed new regulations in 2012 requiring more whole grains, fruits, and vegetables in school cafeterias.

However, once the food is there, it’s up to patrons to make healthy choices when building a plate. A cafeteria can make a few simple changes to encourage these healthier choices.

How can things like rearranging food options, adding labels and information about options, and offering trays with small dishes make such a difference?

Know Your Patrons

First, it’s important to remember who will be going through the line in your cafeteria. In a hospital, patrons might be of all ages, and children are likely to be accompanied by an adult. In a middle school, children are likely to make decisions about food selection on their own.

Children and adults are drawn to different kinds of food and different displays, so encouraging healthy eating is different, depending on your patrons.

For example, a tactic used by grocery stores to encourage purchasing certain products is to place them at eye level. For children, this means that healthier options should be near the lower shelves, while adults are more likely to notice them on the middle shelves.

Children are also more likely to react to more colorful foods, and those that are well designed. For example, placing a sample dish with healthy, colorful options, and making a face on the plate might encourage children to mimic the display.

Adults, on the other hand, are less likely to be influenced by the way the food is designed, and prefer fewer foods and colors on their plates. However, making healthy food attractive and easy to see will encourage adults to select these items. Fresh, quality fruits and vegetables are bright and colorful on their own, so simply placing them in a visible area can encourage adult patrons to choose them.

Use Small Plates

One of the biggest issues that leads to unhealthy eating choices is portion size. Small plates fill up faster than large ones, which can encourage patrons to eat smaller portions or to choose fewer selections, ultimately, leading to healthier eating choices.

Put Healthy Options in High Traffic Areas

When a hungry patron comes into a cafeteria, they are most likely to fill their plate with the first things they notice. Placing healthy foods, like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, in a high traffic area like the entrance to the cafeteria will encourage more people to eat these foods.

Similarly, placing easy to grab health foods, like apples, bananas, or pears near the checkout counter – another high traffic area – is a great way to encourage patrons to select these items on their way out.

Add Labels and Descriptions

It is important to label all foods in a cafeteria, but the depth of the food descriptions can make a difference in whether or not the food is selected.

The name of the food should, of course, be the first thing on the label to help patrons recognize the food. The more descriptive the name, the more likely an adult patron is to select the food item.

Cafeterias that include health claims on food items may also find that those foods are selected more often, because the description encourages the patron to think about long term effects about what they’re eating now.

Offer Express Checkout

In public cafeterias, offering a healthy express checkout can be an incentive for patrons to fill their plates with healthy options. A checkout line may only serve patrons who are eating both fruits and vegetables, or who fill a certain portion of their plate with greens. Either way, this checkout line is reserved only for healthy eaters.

Food Presentation Can Lead to Healthier Selections in Cafeterias

Does Knowing Nutritional Information Help You Make Healthier Eating Choices?

nutrition-facts

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has passed a new law in the United States that will require many chain restaurants to include calorie information for all food items on the menu. The goal, according to the FDA, is to “help consumers make informed choices for themselves and their families.” (FDA website)

The law goes into effect on December 1, 2016. Restaurants that will be affected by the new law include those that are part of a chain with 20 or more locations. That means that sit-down restaurants, drive thrus, those that serve take-out, coffee shops that serve food, many bars, and more, will be required to provide calorie count information to consumers.

The question is, will having these calorie counts available help the general population make healthier eating choices?

How Do Calorie Labels Affect Areas Where They Are Already in Use?

McDonald’s has already started providing calorie counts on all foods. Arizona State University conducted a study conducted a study to determine whether consumers would notice the calorie counts at McDonald’s, and if noticed, if those calorie labels would affect consumers food choices.

According to the study, certain consumers were more likely to notice that the calorie information was provided and to use it to make healthier consumption habits. Things like higher education and higher income both increased a consumer’s likelihood to do so.

New York City has been labeling calories on food since 2008, and Seattle has been requiring it since 2009. In both cities, it has been shown that for those who notice that the calorie counts are on the food, it does have some effect on the ordering and eating habits.

The question then becomes, how do we encourage people to pay attention to nutrition labels that are on foods?

A Brief History of Nutrition Facts and Food Labels

According to an article on the New York Times blog, “nutrition labels weren’t required on packaged foods in the United States until the 1990s.” Since then, there haven’t been major changes to the way that foods are labeled when it comes to health and nutrition.

When you’re purchasing foods at the grocery store, do you pay attention to the nutrition facts on the label? Do they affect your decisions to purchase or eat certain foods, or how much of those foods you eat?

Today’s nutrition labels are designed based on the eating habits of the American population in the 70’s and 80’s. Some schools today are working to make sure that when today’s children grow up, they know how to select a healthy meal, whether it is based on nutrition facts or not.

Teaching Today’s Kids to Eat Healthy

When compared to schools in other countries, American school lunches are not always the healthiest. Some schools have started to teach kids how to select a healthy lunch. A study at Cornell University showed that when children are given options before lunch time to pre-order their lunch, they are more likely to eat healthy than they are when they see and smell the foods they have to choose from at lunch time when they are already hungry.

In addition to making choices when they’re not hungry and cannot see or smell the food, some schools have opted to offer healthier options than they have in the past. In some cases, this means limiting calorie counts on lunch, and in other cases, it means simply offering more fruits and vegetables, and more whole grains.

While there is still some debate on how well these school systems are working, the idea is to get children to pay more attention to what they are eating and how it affects their bodies – the same thing that the new laws are hoping to accomplish with American adults.

Getting A Handle On Food Waste

Household_food_trash_NY

From cafeterias to homes, there are many ways that we waste food in the United States. According to NPR, Americans throw out about a third of the food available to us, and restaurants throw away as much as ten percent of the what they buy. Wasting food is a problem for cafeterias on many levels. First and foremost, it represents wasted money, and few cafeterias can afford to throw away any of their budget.

On a broader scale, this waste represents environmental damage. Wasted food ends up in landfills, and as it rots, it generates harmful greenhouse gasses which contribute to climate change.

Because of the ongoing damage, the Environmental Protection Agency has issued a challenge for the United States to reduce its wasted food by 50 % by 2030.

At this point, the challenge is voluntary, but many restaurants have already begun to work towards reducing their waste in order to promote their restaurant as green and increase profits. For school cafeterias, showing that the kitchen is doing everything possible to reduce waste, manage budgets, and go green can help show that the cafeteria is giving kids healthy opportunities to eat and learn.

Rightsize your recipes

When you use food inventory software in your cafeteria, you can look at how much of a particular dish you’ve sold in the past, and plan the right amount to cook this time so that you don’t have waste to throw out.

Manage your inventory

Every kitchen has experienced the frustration of finding an ingredient pushed to the back of the fridge which has now gone bad. By digitally managing your inventory, you can keep track of what needs to be used up when, and plan ahead.

Rely on data, not opinions

There’s plenty of emotion and instinct involved in cooking, but a successful cafeteria balances this with data driven decisions. If you want to show that kids enjoy a particular recipe, reaching for data about how many servings were sold is more useful than word of mouth from servers.

If your cafeteria’s goal is to reduce waste, reuse ingredients when possible, and rightsize its portions to maximize profits and increase satisfaction, software to give you a clear idea of your kitchen’s inventory is the first, important step towards achieving that goal. For now, the EPA goal is non-mandatory, but given increasing pressure from various groups, that may not be the case in the long term. Act today to choose the best software for your kitchen!

Catering Success with Catering Software

catering-software

The world of business is modernizing, and the catering industry is no exception. In order to stay ahead of the game in a rapidly changing market, you need to enlist some help.

Food management software is designed to give catering businesses the tools they need to really succeed. Read on to find out more.

Boost Your Efficiency

No business can afford to be wasting large amounts of stock, but unfortunately, in the world of catering, this happens all too frequently. Even if you keep a close eye on your operations, and devise thorough plans for each client, you still run the risk of wastage and a dip in profits as a result.

Food management software goes a long way to eliminating this risk altogether. The powerful tools of our software enable business owners and managers to plan precisely what products and ingredients they will need to fulfill a certain contract, making sure that no food gets thrown away.

But out in the field is not the only place that wastage and shrinkage can occur. A powerful piece of inventory management software can help to identify at which points in your supply chain things are going missing, helping you to shine a light on the problem and eliminate it, and boosting your efficiency in the process.

Know Your Business Inside Out

To truly excel in the catering market place, you need to know your business inside and out. This is easy to achieve when your business is still just a fledgling, but what about later on?

How do you keep on top of everything when your business starts to grow?

This is where good quality food management software really comes into its own. By using a food management platform, you will be able to access in depth reports across a variety of metrics, all tailored to your specific query.

This means that, whatever you need to know about your business’ performance or future projections,it is there, readily available, and accessible with only a few clicks of a mouse.

In depth knowledge like this translates to business success; it helps you predict changes in the market before they happen, and adapt your company to accommodate them successfully; it helps you make informed forecasts you can use to measure your future growth targets; and it gives you a convenient vantage point from which to oversee your business as it grows.

Keep Your Customers Smiling… and Returning

A happy customer is a repeat customer, so you don’t need us to tell you that customer satisfaction is key to catering success.

Making sure that your services match and surpass the expectations of your clients is simple as long as you have a good piece of food management software on your side. A great piece of food management software will enable you to effectively oversee your inventory replenishment processes, ensuring that you are always able to provide your clients with what they need, without fail.

It will enable you to assess the performance of your suppliers, reducing costs were necessary and streamlining your stock renewal operation. In turn this will give you the power to price your services competitively within the market.

A great piece of software will also enable you to plan ahead, devising strategies and game plans for your business as it grows, devising new recipes and menus and creating products and service packages that will keep your clients coming back for more.

This benefit doesn’t extend only to your existing client roster, but also becomes a driving force for growth. As word spreads and your clients refer your services to others, you will see an upturn in the number of your regular customers as a direct result of the software.

With such wide-ranging benefits to your business, can you afford not to pursue catering success with catering software?

Big Data is revolutionizing food service

restaurant-plate-food

All businesses depend on interactions with their customers for long term success. From Facebook making decisions about what status updates users want to see to grocery stores understanding what to put on their end caps, Big Data drives their decisions. Instead of the typical data collection methods, where everything is plugged into a spreadsheet that limits how the information can be reviewed, Big Data offers a variety of ways to interrogate information and identify patterns.

Here are just three ways that the food service industry is using Big Data to revolutionize how business is run.

Test & Learn

Word of mouth is no way to run a business. Looking at receipts and asking managers which dishes were most popular is good anecdotal evidence, but to really be sure of whether or not a dish is cost effective, popular, and worth continuing to serve, many food service companies are turning to Big Data. QSR Magazine, in an article about Big Data, talks about how Subway has used one of its locations to test out new menu items and determine their potential success before developing and pushing them out to all restaurants.

Menu Analytics

Anyone who has worked in the restaurant business for any length of time knows that a menu is more than just a list of items that restaurant guests can purchase. Graphic design tricks as simple as putting a box around an item name, or adding the word “succulent” to a description of “fresh fish” can increase orders and change purchasing patterns. But to know if your menu changes have worked, you need to have a clear picture of how many items have been ordered with old and new menu designs.

Big Data can help you discover this information.

Customer Patterns

Training servers and operators to offer add-ons is standard business practice, but some customers express frustration at being asked. Is it possible to anticipate which customers will be interested in suggestions, and which will be put off, by the time of day that they’re eating, or the brand of credit card they carry? Big Data says yes. Big Data can help restaurant and food service managers determine what items will be most successful with certain types of customers at certain times of day.

For businesses within the food service industry, having access to Big Data can help them make their business more cost effective, more successful, and help it to produce less waste.

Tell us how your business already makes use of Big Data!

3 ways FoodCo Makes Running Your Kitchen a Thousand Times Easier

Restaurant owners understand the importance of special dishes that draw in customers. They don’t have to be fancy–some restaurants have drawn attention for doing very simple things exquisitely well–but they do have be delicious, and presented in a beautiful way.

cooking

Two things that can seriously harm a restaurant business are running out of the necessary ingredients to make their signature dishes, and not having enough of a regular supply to create signature dishes in the first place. Software like FoodCo can help restaurant owners and managers perfect their ordering and inventory management.

Find out what the customer favorites really are

If you’re relying on the reports of chefs and servers, unfortunately, you won’t have an accurate picture of which dishes and drinks are truly selling out. With the slick and easy to learn FoodCo software, you’ll be able to accurately plan your menu, and track what’s making you money and what isn’t. You’ll be able to determine which of your recipes are the most cost effective with food and beverage cost control reports, and push them with specials and exciting events.

FoodCo also helps you by:

  • Calculating increases as you scale up. The art of creating that single serving; let the software do the hard work of figuring out how much more you need when you’re serving an entire dining room.
  • Engineering your next menu. Make it easier to compile the necessary information that keeps your menu up to date and fresh. You could do it by hand, but why in the world would you if you didn’t have to?

Make sure you never run out of key ingredients

Keeping a clean and well run kitchen is important for many reasons, and not the least of which is knowing exactly which ingredients you need to order, and which ones are in surplus. With the inventory control elements of FoodCo, you’ll always know exactly what is available, and when you need to reorder. You’ll avoid disappointing a diner who came in hoping for their favorite dish, and had to be told to choose something else. You’ll be able to plan for ingredients that are reaching the end of their shelf life with special sales or promotions.

FoodCo includes the ability to:

  • Maintain a comprehensive inventory database, so that you always know exactly what’s in your kitchen and bar.
  • Compare prices, to make sure that you’re always getting the best possible price from your vendors. The restaurant business lives and breathes tiny margins, and every cent counts.
  • Run your kitchen more smoothly because your vision will be complete.

Seamless integration with the software you already use

If FoodCo sounds like a great concept, but the headache of yet another system for your servers and kitchen staff to manage is just too much, keep reading. FoodCo integrates seamlessly with the software you already use, including:

  • Point-of-sale (POS)
  • Vendor and supplier systems
  • Accounts payable and receivable
  • PDA Hand-held devices

FoodCo isn’t here to make running your kitchen harder; it’s here to simplify the experience as much as possible.

When you’re planning out your restaurant, don’t forget the many benefits of FoodCo to keeping your kitchen operational without headaches. From food and beverage cost calculations to inventory reports to menu planning, FoodCo makes everything simple. Contact us today to find out what FoodCo can do for your business.

How FoodCo Can Change Your Cafeteria Meal Planning for the Better

From hospitals to schools to cafeterias, meal planning for a cafeteria kitchen is complicated and can be extremely frustrating. With FoodCo, top quality meal planning software for cafeterias, we’ve designed a product that will meet every challenge your busy kitchen can throw at it. We’ll help you reduce waste, save money, and scale your recipes to the perfect size.

FoodCo was developed by Food Service Solutions in 1981. This software focuses on back of house operations by assisting business owners, managers, employees, and operators. There are several features of FoodCo that can revolutionize how your cafeteria runs its meal planning.

Food Cost Accounting

Inventory and accounting are a headache for most businesses, but for food service companies, the headache can become a migraine. FoodCo makes managing your inventory as simple as possible by fully integrating with your preferred accounting software. Once you’ve set up the connections between the two programs, FoodCo will add stock replenishments to your inventory and make sure that it’s assigned a general ledger category. Not many meal planning  software for cafeteria programs can claim that. FoodCo reduces the time you spend duplicating information, and gives you more time to spend on the things that really matter.

Meal Planning

This is the cornerstone of what FoodCo can bring to your cafeteria. From tools to scale your recipe, recommend prices for items, and even recommend the necessary stock orders, FoodCo makes sure that you have what you need to make the number of meals you need.

FoodCo also excels in flexibility, letting you accomplish any number of tasks, from pairing different recipes in different ways to uploading menu templates to create a fresh new menu.

Finally, FoodCo has a huge number of reporting options to help you build your menus. The levels of data diversification are huge–as they need to be in an industry where items are ordered in liters and pounds, but used in teaspoons and cups.

Production Management

FoodCo does much more than calculate how to scale your recipe. The meal planning software for cafeterias also helps you track shrinkage, the enemy of every retail business. With a solid overview of every step of the process, you are in an ideal place to find out where changes need to be made, and discover how to implement them.

FoodCo also offers tools for sales reporting, allowing you to see how your delightfully and creatively prepared new dish is performing in the market.

Take all the guesswork out of your meal planning with FoodCo.

In more than 30 years of operation, FoodCo has amassed delighted testimonials in all corners of the institutional food industry.

When you choose FoodCo as the meal planning software for your cafeteria, you are also choosing the excellent customer service available for the company. FoodCo handles each account, no matter how big or small, on a case by case basis, helping you find the right solution for your business. With our experience in the industry, there’s no problem we can’t help you solve.

Since FoodCo was designed and created by professionals in the food service industry, this meal planning software is written in your language. Restaurant work is always difficult, especially in institutional settings, and we know that saving just a few cents per plate can be the difference between a business surviving and thriving. We want to help you thrive.

Get in touch with FoodCo today to find out what we can do to help your cafeteria succeed with our meal planning software!

FOOD service software |food-costing software by FoodCo

We help you find Lost Profit | save Money |MAXIMIZe PROFITS

 www.foodcosoftware.com | @FoodcoSoftware

Four reasons why you shouldn’t be using a spreadsheet to Manage your Restaurant

11013063_750850111702195_5329578638260874071_n

There was a time that the humble spreadsheet was the go-to tool for handling the large amounts of data associated with running a restaurant. However, as technology changes, new and more efficient methods of handling that data have emerged, including integrated systems that can deal with this data in a more secure and effective manner.

ID-100193444

But using a spreadsheet is not simply outdated, it can even be dangerous for your business! Here are four reasons why you shouldn’t be using a spreadsheet to manage your restaurant.

They are useless for tracking changeable quantities

Before we get too negative, it is worth pointing out that spreadsheets are actually pretty good at doing what they are designed to do, which is tracking fixed and discrete parcels of data over time.

What they are not good at, however, is tracking changeable quantities, and this is where their service falls apart. If you run a restaurant business, you’re going to have plenty of changeable quantities, such as wholesaler ingredient prices and stock volumes. It takes a lot of manual work to keep track of these quantities and to keep your spreadsheet up to date, and you should count yourself lucky if no errors slip through the net!

An integrated system that tracks your suppliers’ prices and updates your records accordingly will eliminate this risk.

They are prone to data corruption

Data corruption in a spreadsheet is like the Alien in the movie with Sigourney Weaver; it is difficult to track, difficult to identify (until it’s too late) and can cause untold damage. Data corruption occurs when the wrong information is logged into the system. This information is then fed through calculation after calculation until it has spread like a virus and corrupted all of your data.

Corrupted data leads to a reduction in profit, which can do tremendous harm to your business if left unchecked. The key to avoiding such a catastrophe is not to use a spreadsheet at all, instead opting for a system which is less vulnerable and can analyze discrepancies quickly and effectively, rooting out the cause of the corruption automatically.

It can take ages to correct an error

Restaurant businesses need to handle vast amounts of data. Inputting and then maintaining this data in a spreadsheet is a cumbersome and unwieldy process and can make identifying mistakes or discrepancies in the data difficult. It might be hours or even days before you realize something is up with your spreadsheet, by which time a great deal of costly damage has already been done.

Unless you plan to employ a team of people to scour your spreadsheet on a daily basis, checking and re-checking for errors, it is very difficult to root out potentially harmful discrepancies. If the wrong quantity is added or the data is corrupted, this error becomes buried in the spreadsheet when the next set of data is added, and then concealed again by the next set and so on. It is still there, messing up your calculations, but it is difficult to find and put right.

Integrated data handling systems make it far easier to find errors in inputted data, and can correct these errors in no time.

They are inefficient

Maintaining a spreadsheet is labor-intensive and requires direct human input to record data. This in itself is an inefficient process, and ties up a member, or members, of your staff that could be working on other, more useful tasks.

The amount of labor increases when you’re trying to find and rectify a problem with your data. Your team will need to waste valuable working hours scouring the data and trying to salvage as much as possible, and the whole process will become an exercise in damage limitation.

In order to boost efficiency and maximize profits, restaurant businesses need to move away from traditional spreadsheets. Integrated systems analyze and handle data more effectively, updating automatically and freeing up extra working hours that can be spent on other areas of your business.

Additional information: Image courtesy of cooldesign at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

FOOD service software |food-costing software by FoodCo

We help you find Lost Profit | save Money |MAXIMIZe PROFITS

 www.foodcosoftware.com | @FoodcoSoftware

Six Ways to Keep your Restaurant from Eating All Your Profits

depositphotos_74238129-Business-lunch

Waste can take a big bite out of any restaurant’s profit. That’s why food and beverage cost control is vital, no matter how well the business is doing in terms of clientele and volume.

Keeping track of everything takes time, especially if you’ve been relying on the old fashioned spreadsheet or a clipboard — and when you’re running a restaurant, time is in short supply. These days, good restaurant management software that can aid in a variety of tracking, including food and beverage cost control formulas, is a necessity.

Restaurant software that delivers food and beverage cost control can help in a variety of ways that a spreadsheet cannot.

Full  Integration

Worried that new software might not be compatible with what you’re using now? A good program will be compatible with many systems.

Programs designed specifically for restaurants can integrate some of those processes and update information across a range of tasks without multiple entries. You’ll be able to spot and fix problem areas more easily, too.

Planning

Food service experts will tell you that planning and documenting plating instructions, ordering and receiving procedures, prep work necessities, and serving standards can help cut your food cost dramatically. Menu planning software helps make it easy to scale recipes, control your inventory, automatically calculate ingredient requirements, and create cost and volume projections.

You’ll find that the reduction in duplicated tasks for menu planning frees you from being bogged down in paperwork.

 Inventory

Food software applications designed specifically for restaurants, catering and hospitality businesses, food service management and institutional feeding businesses can cut costs exponentially. Features such as creating an audit trail for your accounting team, keeping inventory updated, tracking deliveries, are all right at your fingertips.

You’ll also be able to set benchmarks to show progress toward your goals, and best of all, you will be able to reduce costs through better tracking, waste reduction and more efficient ordering.

Costing

Sticking with a prime vendor might help you with food cost control, but not all restaurant owners have that luxury. With the right integrated food service management software, you can compare prices from various vendors to get the best deals while you plan meals or track your inventory. That makes cost and volume projections a snap, especially if you need to scale up a recipe on short notice for a special event.

Just think — no more worrying about whether you’re charging the right amount. With the right software to do the calculations for you quickly and easily, you can order that extra sauce with confidence.

Reports

If your restaurant seems to be attracting the right volume of customers, but swallowing profits whole, food and beverage cost control reports can lead you straight to the source of the loss.

Progress Monitoring

Once you’ve identified a problem area and instituted changes, food costing software keeps track of how well the changes are working. Features like cost-to-profit ratios and customized worksheets that break down your procedures step by step, remove the guesswork.

The right food and beverage cost control formulas will help you minimize unnecessary losses, and it can reduce the time you spend searching for the cause of lost profits.  Look for food and beverage cost control software that offers integration with your existing data & accounting systems, your stockroom devices, and your POS software, and you’ll find your profits — and quite possibly your free time — will move in the right direction.

FOOD service software |food-costing software by FoodCo

We help you find Lost Profit | save Money |MAXIMIZe PROFITS

www.foodcosoftware.com | @FoodcoSoftware