Saving money on school menus can be a challenge, but it's essential to provide nutritious meals for students while staying within budget constraints. Here are some cost-saving tips for school menus:
1. Menu planning
• Develop a menu rotation that utilises seasonal and cost-effective ingredients.
• Incorporate versatile ingredients that can be used in multiple dishes.
• Plan meals that require minimal prep time and labour to reduce staffing costs.
2. Buy in bulk
• Purchase non-perishable items, such as grains, pasta, and canned goods, in bulk to take advantage of discounts.
3. Reduce waste
• Implement portion control to prevent over-serving and food waste.
• Use leftovers creatively by incorporating them into the next day's menu.
4. Cook from scratch
• Prepare more items from scratch instead of relying on pre-packaged or processed foods, which can be more expensive.
• Untilise kitchen equipment efficiently to save time and energy.
5. Menu diversification
• Offer vegetarian and vegan options, which can be more budget-friendly than meat-based dishes.
• Explore international cuisines that use affordable ingredients and spices to add variety to the menu.
6. Food safety & storage
• Train staff in proper food storage and handling techniques to prevent spoilage and waste.
• Invest in efficient refrigeration and storage solutions to extend the shelf life of ingredients.
7. Menu promotion
• Promote school meals to increase participation, which can help offset costs.
• Implement promotional events, such as themed lunch days, to attract students.
8. Energy efficiency
• Use energy-efficient appliances and lighting in the kitchen to reduce utility costs.
• Implement energy-saving practices, like turning off equipment when not in use.
9. Staff training
• Continuously train staff in cost-effective cooking techniques and menu planning.
• Cross-train employees to perform multiple tasks, reducing the need for additional staff.
10. Monitor & adjust
• Regularly review your budget and expenses to identify areas where you can cut costs without sacrificing food quality or safety.