Portion control is an easy way to control cost and consistency in every meal that leaves the kitchen.

Controlling portions is one of the easiest and most effective ways to maintain profitability in a restaurant, while simultaneously keeping guests happy. Whether your operation is a stand-alone establishment or a chain with several units, returning guests have certain expectations of your brand which must be adhered to every time.

The First Reason

On the front of house end, predictability and consistency is what customers are looking for.  Guests want to know that they will be receiving a menu item served up the same way when they ordered it the last time, and this can only be achieved with controlled portioning.  Portion control ensures that the dishes going out remain consistent, regardless of who is cooking them from shift to shift.

If, for example, your menu features a pan-seared salmon fillet with a side of veg and rice, the portion sizes should be broken down in order to ensure homogeneity from dish to dish. So, the fillet of salmon would be a 6 oz. fillet, one cup of rice, three spears of asparagus and a half cup of chard. If your guest has ordered this item before, they will be expecting this exact portion the next time they order. Imagine, for a moment, how your customer would react if instead they were to receive a smaller portion of fish, or a lesser amount of veg. They would most likely be confused and/or disappointed.

Further to that, portion control can- and should- be broken down on a recipe level as well. Just as portioning proteins, starch and veg for the plate ensures accurate plating and consistent entrees, portion control in recipes ensures that the food being produced in your kitchen always tastes the same. Imagine if your cooks had full autonomy to use as much or as little an ingredient as they liked in a sauce, for example. The sauce’s flavour, and maybe even consistency, would vary depending on who made it that day. Just as your customers expect the same size of meal to come out to them every time, they also expect the same flavour in their foods- particularly if it happens to be a favourite menu item of theirs!

The Second Reason

Portion control isn’t purely beneficial to the guest, however. It is a necessary practice in order to control costs, manage inventory, and prevent theft. Food cost is a major expense in a restaurant, and it is more easily managed through proper portioning. By setting out clear and direct guidelines for measurements of each recipe and plated entrée, your kitchen team will be able to produce more consistently, and you will have an easier time predicting your orders for the following week, and controlling your food cost budget.

The clearer you can make it for your staff, the easier it will be to ensure proper portioning is being followed. Create recipe charts and plating guides for each dish, including photos. Make sure your kitchen is equipped with scales, properly sized ladles and measuring equipment.  Consistently sized serving vessels, whether takeout containers or dinnerware, ensures accurate portioning for both dine-in and take out customers. A side of salsa, for example, should always be served in a 2 oz. to-go portion cup, or a 2 oz. ramekin.

With good staff, proper training, sufficient equipment, adequate serving pieces and instructional aids in place, portion control is an easy way to control cost and consistency in every meal that leaves the kitchen.

Paul Morgan, Plan2Profit, 1-844-752-6776