Dial up your profits by creating a versatile menu that allows you to get more out of your ingredients.

Less ingredients in your pantry, menu and dish can equal more flavours, less wastage, and work. Here’s MasterFoods six steps to a versatile menu that serves your diners, and your bottom line.

Identify what’s holding you back
By using an ingredient in more ways than one, you will have much greater control over your prep, usage, and wastage. Firstly identify which ingredients you don’t have multiple uses for. If there are some that regularly go to waste or sit in your pantry unused, find ways to substitute them.

Plan ahead and be flexible
Next, brainstorm ways that you could use these ingredients if these dishes don’t sell in the quantities you were expecting. Consider how to create new flavour experiences by repurposing what you have left. This will improve your flexibility and in turn, your profitability. For example, if you have leftover pork belly, you could offer a pork belly pasta or pork belly bites. It’s important to think ahead, so you can stock any additional long-life items you may need, such as sauces and marinades.

Go fresh, go local
Plan your program with seasonality in mind. Seasonal ingredients are fresh and cost-effective, meaning a seasonal menu will always be maximised for profitability.
In addition, source as much of your ingredients locally as possible. By cutting down on food miles, your food last longer and you will be supporting local Aussie producers.

It’s all in the name
Even if there is repetition in the ingredients you use, there is a trick to how you name them on your menu. If you use avocado across your breakfast service, keep your menu exciting by avoiding repeating the word “avocado”. For example, try tweaking the dish by creating guacamole, or other variations.

Consider dietary requirements
Offering just one vegan or gluten-free menu item just won’t cut it. Instead, create dishes which sound and look exciting, but also tick dietary boxes. Seek out versatile products which are naturally gluten free and swap out gluten products where there’s an attractive alternative. Trace this back to your pantry staples, such as your sauces. By stocking your pantry with gluten-free or vegan sauces, you allow them to be used across your whole menu.

Don’t forget to upsell
Sometimes getting more out of your ingredients can be as simple as adding a twist to make it more enticing to your customers. For example, rather than only serving fries, look into loaded fries or serving them with additional sauce combinations.
However, when you are looking to upsell using sides, ensure they add value to a meal. Avoid separating items that customers expect to come together, such as steak and sauce. Despite being more profitable, the extra few dollars might come at the expense of the customer experience.

For more handy tips that maximise profit, download MasterFoods’ rogue magazine here.