As a restaurant owner, do you often wonder if keeping some dishes on your menu is worth it? Sometimes certain items become a hit for one season despite being super pricy, but the same dishes don’t work other times, and you’re stuck bearing more food costs. Designing a profitable restaurant menu is challenging as it reflects your restaurant’s personality. Neither of which can be compromised!
And, and, and.. menu complexity scores are an excellent way to design your perfect restaurant menu! Menu complexity scores refer to a numerical value assigned to every item and its ingredients to evaluate the complexity of a menu in terms of its ingredients costs, preparation methods & time, and presentation. The scores can help you determine your exact food cost and if your menu items are profitable.
For any restaurant, cafe, and especially QSRs, that has a diverse menu with very specific types of ingredients, knowing the menu complexity score of each item is super important.
What is the Menu Complexity Score?
By analyzing various factors, like the number of ingredients, cooking techniques, and the level of creativity involved in the preparation of each dish, you can determine the menu complexity score. Restaurants can use the score to assess their menus and decide on menu development and design.
A high menu complexity score might indicate that a menu is challenging, requiring expensive ingredients and experienced kitchen staff. In contrast, a low score might indicate that a menu is relatively straightforward and easier to prepare. A menu item with a high complexity score may be more expensive to prepare due to the time and resources required to create it. The restaurant may therefore choose to adjust the item’s price to cover the food cost or to simplify the recipe to lower the complexity score and reduce costs.
Simple example: A tomato soup has a low complexity score because the recipe is simple and the ingredients affordable. But soup like Almond broccoli has a higher complexity score because these ingredients are expensive! That’s why tomato soup is cheaper than Almon broccoli soup.
What Can Menu Complexity Do For My Menu and Food Cost?
Menu complexity scores set after a thorough menu analysis can be used by restaurants in several ways!
1. Plan On Changes In Prices
- The menu complexity score plays an important role in making any changes like adding or reducing more items to the menu. For instance, a restaurant in a tier 2/3 city that is targeting families and children may emphasize a menu with low complexity and might be able to add more items. In comparison, a restaurant in any tier 1 city, targeting niche cuisine and gourmet flavour pallets may consider their profit margins before making any changes.
2. Plan Operational Buget
- The scores can be used to set menu prices based on the cost and complexity of each dish. It can help ensure that menu items are priced appropriately, considering the cost of ingredients, preparation, and presentation.
- You can develop sales and marketing strategies with the help of these scores. You can highlight the most popular and profitable menu items to guide menu promotions.
3. Better Inventory Management
- Restaurants can use menu complexity scores to help manage their inventory effectively. By knowing which ingredients are required for each menu item, you can purchase the right amount of each ingredient and reduce waste and food cost. It helps regulate the food cost during on and off seasons in the restaurant industry.
- The scores can help guide kitchen planning and resource allocation. It will help ensure the kitchen has the equipment, staff, and other resources necessary to prepare and serve each menu item.
4. Smoother Kitchen Operations
- The scores can help standardize recipes and ensure that each menu item is prepared consistently and to the same quality standard.
- The resources available in the kitchen, including staff skills and equipment, can impact the importance of a menu complexity score. For instance, a restaurant with highly skilled kitchen staff and state-of-the-art equipment may be able to handle a more complex menu, while a restaurant with limited resources may need to focus on a simpler menu.
Calculating Menu Complexity Score
The specific method used to calculate the menu complexity score will depend on the restaurant’s needs and preferences, and there is no one standard method. However, it is crucial to be consistent and transparent in the calculation process to ensure the accuracy and reliability of the scores.
Here are the steps to build a menu complexity score to determine food cost:
- Gather information: Gather data on ingredients, preparation methods, cooking time, and plating styles for each menu item.
- Assign values: Assign values to each ingredient based on cost, availability, and quality. Assign values to each preparation method based on the time and skill required. Assign values to each cooking method based on the time and energy needed.
- Calculate food cost: Use the assigned values to calculate the food cost for each menu item. The food cost should include the cost of ingredients, preparation time, and other costs associated with the dish, such as cooking fuel or kitchen equipment.
- Evaluate menu items: Evaluate each item based on its food cost, complexity score, and other relevant factors, such as customer demand and seasonality. Consider adjusting menu items or prices to optimize food cost and menu profitability.
- Refine the scoring system: Continuously refine the scoring system by collecting and analyzing data, evaluating results, and making improvements as needed.
Menu complexity scores can provide valuable insights into the cost and difficulty of preparing each menu item. It helps restaurants make informed decisions, optimize their menu offerings and increase profits!
We hope you find this blog helpful. Subscribe to our newsletter and follow us on Instagram for more restaurant-industry information.