With the economy turning around so slowly, I’ve exhausted my skills at trimming labor costs and substituting expensive cuts of meat for less utilized cuts like hanger steak. I’ve put salads and pastas on the menu with chicken, salmon and shrimp, instead of more exotic choices. Now what?A:
Of course. First, I am constantly amazed at the ingenuity of chefs and operators in finding ways to keep value in the menu but creatively control costs. Potatoes are an excellent way to do this. Why not re-invent comfort favorites like ham and scalloped potatoes with other proteins and make it a center of the plate entrée? Or, move hash from breakfast only to an upscale side or new brunch item with other colorful vegetables? Making homemade potato skins from left over baked Idaho® potatoes is another option, but try this variation on a potato salad – place the crispy skins on the plate, top with a chilled potato salad that has tiny shrimp or seafood in it.
One of the biggest cost savings moves is to re-evaluate your serving portions. Is a one pound Idaho® baked potato worth the bragging rights or can a nice 70 count be a more sensible choice? Can a platter of fries go further if placed in a cup instead? Can a couple of big spoonful’s of Au Gratin potatoes be substituted with a baked off casserole version in an individual portion ceramic crock? Years ago in the pizza business cheese costs went down by having prep include using a portion cup instead of a handful. The odd part is that the pizzas actually tasted better as all the ingredients were in a balanced ratio rather than one dominating over others. Portion it, weigh it and watch the food costs come in line.