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Great on taste, easy on the budget, quick in the kitchen – these are just a few of the things you need to balance when it comes to maintaining a menu for your café.

The key to making that happen is learning to work your kitchen smarter not harder. One of the many ways you can be on trend, on budget and save on time is by being organised about choosing your ingredients.

Here are few tips on how you can make your menu more profitable per customer:

Keep your menu flexible

Incorporate seasonal ingredients into your menu. This is a sure-fire way to ease up on costs. We know that changing your menu to accommodate seasonal ingredients is easier said than done, so one way to handle this is by building flexibility into the way you describe your dishes. For example, saying the steak comes with 'seasonal vegetables' can give you room for change while sounding more desirable to customers.

Talk to your suppliers 

Your suppliers are experts at knowing what’s in the market. Use their intel to create a more cost-effective menu that keeps customers happy. Run your menu ideas past them and take on board their advice.

Go local with your produce

Menus sound fresh and tasty when they include local specialities. As explained earlier, they can also be cheaper to create and sustain a good selling price. Promote sourcing of local fish, meat and vegetables.

Buy smarter

Good buying will benefit your restaurant and your customer. Consider the volume of ingredients that you buy. Are you buying too much, not enough or too frequently? A good place to start is listing your top 25 ingredients with the highest purchase value and focus on reducing these costs.

Use common components

Compose your menu in such a way that some ingredients can feature in more than one dish. One expensive ingredient used in only one unpopular dish can reduce margins.

At the end of the day, always remember that no matter what you decide to do to your menu, your customers’ opinion is what matters most. Ask for feedback and make sure you take steps to update your menu accordingly.

Find out more about CAFÉ 360