I’m in the library today tutoring our culinary and baking students on any food subject they want. Most have good questions about different vegetables, animal protein or grain. But most want to understand food costing. Food costing involves a bit of mathematics. It’s all multiplication and addition but still some find it very difficult. I did at first too. I didn’t see the need to understand the costs of things. I thought you just charged a fair price for your food and you would make money. How wrong I was! Using the food costing formula we have at school, I can determine if where I buy the food is a good fit for me. I can tell if there are ingredients that can be reduced or eliminated to lower my cost. Also I can adjust the standard recipes to fit my cost. Here’s an example: I was making peach cobbler and putting in quite a bit of nutmeg. Now I like nutmeg but you don’t want to use too much. Nutmeg is very expensive and by lowering the amount of the ingredient by just a little, I was able to lower the food cost by .65. That may not sound like a lot but over time and many batches, it adds up.
I can better decide on a menu price using the costing formula. If I have a product that costs .76 to make like a banana bread loaf, I could use 50% food cost and the loaf would sell for 1.52. Would you pay 1.52 for a decent loaf of banana bread. I think the market might bear more than that. Once I have my cost per loaf I can make my own price and profit. Let’s say I wanted a 17% food cost. I would take my .76 cost divided by .17 and I would get 4.47 as my selling price. Would you still buy my buttery, moist banana bread for that price? I think you would. You might even expect to pay more! This is the reason I think the costing formula is a valuable tool for the restauranteur or baker.