The Evolution of a Dish:

Recipe Costing Best Practices: 5 Reasons Your Recipes Aren't Showing Costs

Your recipes are really the heart and soul of your kitchen and your restaurant. They dictate not just the quality and consistency of your food, but the profitability of your business. Getting recipe costs right is important and is a huge reason why a lot of restaurants use meez. 

Costing was actually one of the first features to be built into our restaurant recipe software. Our goal was to create a program that was intuitive while also equipping you with extremely accurate costs. 

Because this topic is so wide, we’re going to cover the top reasons why your recipes aren’t showing costs in meez. 

Your Recipes May Not Be Showing Costs Because…

1. Ingredient costs are missing

It may seem obvious, you cannot have recipe costs without costing your ingredients first. You would be surprised how often this comes up in meez. 

For example, in this tomato salad recipe, you’ll notice that heirloom tomatoes are not costed yet ( as shown with the red icons next to each ingredient). 

If you click on heirloom tomato, it brings us to the heirloom tomato ingredient page. In meez, every ingredient has its own page where costing information lives. 

Whenever you change the cost on this ingredient page, it's going to automatically change the cost across every recipe that references that specific ingredient. For example, if heirloom tomatoes cost $7/lb, the ingredient will cost the same for both a tomato salad and tomato soup recipe that uses heirloom tomatoes. 

In addition to editing the ingredient page, another option is to click on the pencil icon next to an ingredient right from this recipe. From there you can add or change costs.

2. There are no quantities or UoM

The second common reason why your recipes aren't showing costs is that you don't have quantities and units of measure. A lot of recipes are written with onion, carrot, and celery thrown all together.

But if you want to have accurate costs, you need a quantity and a unit of measure written for every ingredient in the recipe. That’s because the recipe is going to reference not just the cost, but also the quantity, or how much is in your recipe.

It’s pretty straightforward, but again, you'd be surprised at how often quantity is missing. In this case, I'm going to add 4 to the quantity and oz as my unit of measure. Don’t forget to enter the two separately. The quantity goes in one field and the UoM is in another field. 

3. Unit of measure is undefined

Whether you’re using tablespoons, cups, pounds, or a number 10 can, your units of measure need to be clearly defined in your meez recipe. When writing a recipe, always write using weight or volume to avoid any costing problems in meez. 

Our system understands different forms of weight, like grams and pounds, and the relationship between those two. Plus, it knows the relationship between different forms of volume, like how many tablespoons are in a liter.

meez can also easily switch and convert between weight and volume seamlessly. Many of the ingredients in our database have the relationships between weight and volume defined. For instance, meez knows  the weight of a cup of molasses is different from a cup of water.

What about ingredients that use “each”? 

Assigning “each” to an ingredient can cause chaos in a recipe, if not defined further. Typically used to represent a piece of something, like a slice, container, bottle, leaf, case, or loaf,  “each” doesn’t have an established relationship between weight and volume. 

If you use ingredients and buy ingredients in two separate units, then you’ll need to use our UoM Equivalency tab. 

For instance, if you use 4 slices of fresh mozzarella in an heirloom salad, meez will point out that the unit conversion needed for this calculation. Our system doesn’t automatically know how big a slice of mozzarella is. 

In this case, you’ll need to click on the UoM Equivalency tab and define the weight, volume, or both for a mozzarella slice. After this conversion is defined, you’ll be able to see the ingredient cost properly.

4. Ingredients are duplicated

Duplicate ingredients are something we encounter often because multiple people might be adding recipes and they might be calling things the same ingredient, but they're using different terms.

For instance, we see kosher salt and salt listed as ingredients all the time. As long as they are both being used for the same applications,  there's no reason to have both ingredients in your account. Other common examples include butter and unsalted butter, vegetable oil, and cooking oil.

Remember, each of these ingredients listed above, salt, Maldon salt, and Kosher Salt, have their own pages. So if you attach a cost to Maldon salt, but the recipe says Kosher salt, the cost won’t appear. 

To prevent this from happening, you’ll want to merge ingredients together. You can do this by:

  1. Searching for all ingredients listed as “salt”
  2. Select all ingredients
  3. Click on the merge sign
  4. Choose what ingredients to merge

You can merge as many ingredients as you want. By doing this, you're deciding what you want that ingredient to be called across all your recipes.

It's important to note that if you have multiple people inputting recipes, maybe one chef called it salt, another chef called it sea salt, you want to make sure to have one unified vocabulary and merging ingredients is the way to do that.

5. Portion size is missing in the Food Cost Calculator

You might have all of your ingredient costs, have all of your ingredients with units of measure, and have equivalencies set. However, when you look at your cost tab, nothing shows up in your food cost calculator. The reason for this is because meez doesn’t automatically add a portion size.

Your portion size needs to relate to your yield. So if you have a yield of one serving, your portion size is also going to be one serving.

After inputting portion size into our food cost calculator, you will see a cost appear. From here, you can add your sell price, target food cost percentage, or target profit, and meez will fill in the rest. 

All of these fields are talking to one another so if you change the quantity of an ingredient in a recipe - like having 3 oz of fresh mozzarella instead of 4 oz - you will actually see the cost drop. 

Because this is all linked together, it’s easy to do R&D on these recipes and get your final sell price nailed down.


The biggest takeaway here is to always think about your ingredients as the source of truth for your costs. To prevent costing problems, you’ll want to fix up your ingredient pages with costs and equivalencies, and ensure your recipes are written r with units of measure and quantities. Start with ingredients, move on to sub-recipes, and finally on to your recipe build and final plate cost.

If you are still struggling, one service that meez offers is a costing audit. Our professional recipe services team will identify, and correct when possible, every issue related to costing in your account.

All costing audits:
  • Identify missing information that is causing inaccurate ingredient or recipe costs.
  • Ensure all menu items are generating accurate costs
  • Assist with training on best practices for using third-party integrations or invoice processing
  • Provide best practices for creating recipes optimized for costing
Get laser accurate food costs

Get laser accurate food costs

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