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How to create a good menu

Good menu ideas, designs, and advice on how you can build the perfect menu, it’s all here!

Creating a good menu isn’t something where you sit in a circle with your staff and randomly decide on the prices of your items based on what you think the prices should be. Not at all. If anything, creating a great menu is more down to science than it is to food presentation.

But let me stop here for a second. Your food is important. Never forget that. If your food doesn’t taste good, then calculating the prices for your food, how much a portion should be, how to minimize food wastage, etc… would be completely useless. If your food isn’t good, then it’s undoubtedly going to be wasted anyway. And good luck with getting those customers back.

So, assuming your food tastes great, how do you put a price on that food? How do you decide what food you should even make? And how do you decide which of those food should make it on to the menu?

These are undeniably tricky questions, and very important ones too! The price you decide to put on your food may determine whether or not your business might fly high in the clouds, or come crashing to the ground. Price your food too high, and you’re not going to have regular customers. Price your food too low, and your losses will overshadow your profits.

There is a lot to consider when deciding on the perfect menu. Firstly, you need to decide on a strategy when pricing your food. Generally, the rule is to make the cost of your ingredients equal to around 30%-35% of your total budget. Put into a formula, this would be:

Remember, the product cost should also include anything else you added to give the dish a zing! If you happen to be a top-notch restaurant, don’t hesitate to increase the price.

Before going on, please be sure to understand the market around you. Go online and have a look at the prices given by restaurants similar to yours. Make sure your pricing (among other things) is competitive in the local market, and ensure that the variety of food you offer appeals to the local customers.

Next up, the structure of the menu. You need a clear structure when it comes to starters, main dishes, desserts and drinks. Ensure that you take consumer psychology into account because first impressions are important. Nobody wants to go through a list of five hundred dishes to decide what he wants to eat tonight! If your restaurant is a dine-in type restaurant, make sure you don't have more than four to five food items per category. When considering the layout of the menu, make sure you use a proper colour scheme, high-quality images of your food, and a description that will help your customer make up his mind in two seconds. Also, remember to keep the most expensive food items in the top right corner. Like I said, people don’t quite enjoy reading out the names of food as much as they enjoy eating them, so they tend to decide on what to eat within the first few seconds of glancing at the menu. It is also a good idea to put any chef recommendations and restaurant specialities along with the starters since you want your customers to try this first.

What products should go into the categories or menu? When looking into the products that you are adding to the menu please take the ingredients into consideration. To be efficient, you want to be able to have common ingredients on your products, which will save on inventory, give you more volume, better prices, and a good rotation of products (reducing the chance that they will expire). It’s much easier to control and better when planning. Imagine having a different plate for each dish! Would you do that? Think of the products you have in your menu that contain low selling, high complexity ingredients. Are they really worth it?

Separate your dishes and drinks. It’s always a good idea to keep your wines, cocktails, and alcohol in a separate menu. While a good wine always complements good food, there is no specific use for having both together in the same menu. When preparing the menu, it might also be a good idea to start deciding the size of each portion so that you fill your customers' stomachs while ensuring minimal food wastage.

Not sure how to start on any of these? Just contact us! As our partner restaurant, you have access to all our data analytics on pricing in your area from average prices to most sold items. We also have a menu printing system that can help you design your menu.

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