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The Evolution of a Dish:

A Guide to Sourcing Ingredients for Restaurants

If you're a restaurateur, sourcing ingredients is one of the most important steps for running your business. The wrong ingredients can mean an inferior product and lost revenue. This can create a huge impact on your business, both short and long term. The right ingredients, on the other hand, can help you create signature dishes that keep customers coming back for more. Additionally, high-quality ingredients can save you money in the long run.

In this guide, we'll walk you through the steps of sourcing ingredients for restaurants so that you can find the best products at the best prices.

List Your Menu

The first step for sourcing ingredients is to list out all of the menu items that you'll be serving. This will give you a good starting point for the types of ingredients that you'll need to source.

Listing your menu will help you achieve the following:

  1. Differentiating between the ingredients that you need to source and the ones that you already have
  2. Getting an idea of the volume of ingredients you'll need
  3. Understanding what types of ingredients you need to source
  4. Creating a budget for your ingredient needs

When listing your menu, be sure to include any specials that you'll be running. So that you can ensure that you have a complete understanding of all the ingredients that you need to source.

Group Items into Categories

Categorizing the items will help you further understand the types and amounts of ingredients you need. Most menus can be grouped into different categories, such as salads, main dishes, sides and desserts. These categories will be very useful when it comes to comparing prices between vendors.

Consider Your Expected Sales Volume

Before sourcing ingredients, you need to have a good idea of your expected sales volume. You will then have a deeper understanding of the quantities of each ingredient that you will need.

If you're not sure about your expected sales volume, use historical data from past months or seasons to get an estimate. This will give you a good starting point to work with. Keep in mind that your expected sales volume can change over time. For example, you may have a higher volume during the summer because of increased tourism or seasonal foot traffic. As such, review your sales volume on a regular basis and make adjustments to your ingredient needs accordingly.

Look for Prospective Vendors

A good place to start looking for prospective vendors is with wholesalers and specialty grocery stores. There are also plenty of online ingredient retailers that you can work with who may specialize in spices or exotic ingredients. These can be a great option if you're looking at a larger variety of ingredients.

Some things to think about when looking for prospective vendors include:

  1. The types of products that they offer
  2. The quality of their products
  3. Their pricing structure
  4. Their delivery options

When evaluating prospective vendors, be sure to ask for samples of their products. This will give you a good idea of the taste and quality of their ingredients.

Compare Vendors

Now that you've found a few prospective vendors, it's time to start comparing them. Start by looking at factors such as price, quality and delivery time.

You should always consider the fact that not all ingredients are created equal. Some ingredients may be more expensive but worth the investment. Conversely, some ingredients may be less expensive but of lower quality. Ingredients can also be priced by different sizes, such as by the pound or by the case, so consider that when comparing cost and know meez's food cost calculator intuitively applies unit of measurement to recipe costing.

Final Considerations

Once you've selected a few prospective vendors, it's important to finalize your decision. This includes signing contracts and setting up delivery schedules.

Moreover, be sure to review your needs on a regular basis. They can change anytime, so it's important to be flexible and with meez, you can scan your invoices or integrate your purchasing to easily monitor food cost percentage and profit margin.

Sourcing ingredients for restaurants doesn't have to be a difficult task, and you'll find thousands of ingredients built-in to the meez database to quickly import or create recipes with, factor in tested yields for prep actions, and map to USDA nutrition calculations. By following these steps, you can source the best ingredients at the best prices. A little bit of research and planning can go a long way to ensure that your restaurant has the best ingredients.

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