As a former chef, I know that the idea of using readymade products in a professional kitchen can be met with some resistance and hesitation, but thanks to the increasingly high quality of these readymade items, they can be a valuable asset in the kitchen.
Items like pizza doughs, pastes for sauces, and pre-made stocks have the built-in advantage of reducing food and labor costs, saving time and space, keeping menu items consistent, and streamlining the ordering process. Let’s take a look at the advantages of using readymade products in your kitchen.
Better Bottom Line
Achieving food and labor costs that are consistently around 30% — the gold standard for restaurants — can be extremely challenging, especially in the current climate of inflation and rising food prices. Often it is less expensive to use a readymade product, like a soup or sauce, than it would be to buy certain ingredients and make the item from scratch. And by reducing the time it takes your cooks to prep, you’re also saving money on labor costs. By doing both, it may be possible to keep prices relatively low on your menu, providing a sense of value for customers that will encourage guests to choose your restaurant over the competition.
Wide Open Spaces
Let’s face it, kitchens aren’t known for having an abundance of storage space. In most professional kitchens, dry storage and the walk-in are always packed tight. By using readymade products, you can greatly reduce the amount of space you need for storage, and the professional packaging makes it easy to assess use-by dates in order to maintain a FIFO storage system.
The Key to Consistency
Obviously having food on your menu that tastes great is important, but I would suggest that it’s equally important that the quality and flavor of the food be consistent each time a guest orders it. While chefs may flex their creativity riffing on dishes, changing them slightly to suit their own tastes, using readymade items cuts down on this and delivers a consistent product every time. Likewise, your BOH team will experience turnover from time to time, and the chefs who leave take valuable knowledge with them. When you use readymade items in the kitchen, you reduce the impact of losing that knowledge and make it easier to train incoming staff to execute exactly what you expect.
How often have you forgotten to order that one ingredient that’s essential for the daily soup and had to either 86 it or worse, run out to the store to pick some up? Ordering is complex enough already, so take the assist that readymade foods can provide, and streamline your ordering process—another way to save time and improve efficiency—for ordering, receiving, and maintaining inventory.