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How does a meal prep company develop its menu?

How can I tiptoe on the line of being exciting and innovative yet cost-effective and not overly ambitious? How do I attract customers and keep them interested but not overcomplicate my kitchen with tons of ingredients and recipes? The key to answering these questions starts with your concept. 

The first step any chef, caterer, or Meal Kit Company needs to do is create a clear vision on the concept or direction of their menu. The business should be focused on one major idea: whether it be a specific regional cuisine (Italian, Southern, Spanish), or even a diet approach (Keto, Paleo, Low fat), it is essential to have a main focus to build your menu off of. 

The next step will be deciding the actual size of your menu, and this is where chefs tend to make a major mistake. MORE IS NOT ALWAYS BETTER! Stay true to your vision and concept and be confident in what you are making.

Limiting a menu doesn’t mean you are limiting your customer base. Your customers will come to love what you are doing and gain trust in you as a chef. Help them explore new things and discover the food they may not have had the confidence to try before. If you are worried about your menu becoming stale, I recommend keeping your list at 10-20 items but changing it monthly or seasonally. Or, keep ten core items and have rotating specials every two weeks. This way, you can utilize seasonal ingredients and keep clients interested as well as satisfy clients that do love your core menu items!

Once you have a clear vision of your concept and menu size, the last step is making sure your menu is cost-effective. You want to keep your food cost in the range of 30-35%. There are a few tips to keeping your menu in the range to keep you profitable.

 

Cross utilize ingredients and sauces.
Being able to use things like grilled asparagus or a lemon vinaigrette in multiple dishes will cut down on your food and labor costs. You’ll also save on ordering.

 

Buy in Bulk.
It’s cheaper to but 500# of 10 different ingredients than buying 500# of 50 different ingredients. You’re still buying 500lbs total, but getting ingredients in bulk is always more cost-effective.

 

Minimize waste.
USE EVERYTHING! The less raw ingredients that go in the trash, the more money goes in your pocket.

 

Keep it simple.
You don’t need 30 ingredients in a dish to make it taste good. Buy delicious seasonal ingredients and prepare them with love, and you’ll hit the mark every time.

 

How have you optimized your menu to keep your business profitable and fun for your customers?

Have a story to tell?

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