Use Our Free Food Cost Calculator

How to calculate food cost

Use our food cost calculator below to calculate your food cost, edible cost, portion cost, menu and plate costs. Watch the video to learn how to use our food cost calculator. In this video, we build out a roasted chicken brie sandwich with a side salad and a ramekin of sun-dried tomato ranch dressing. We identify each ingredient for the recipes and menu items, enter the purchasing unit and price to get the unit costs. Additionally, we use our yield to demonstrate the effects on the cost per unit and number of portions.

Start Calculating Your Food Cost Below:

Understanding food costs

Understanding your costs before you open will be vital to your success. As you build your business plan, you will find it’s difficult to wrap your arms around your potential revenue and daily costs. I created software called www.recipe-costing.com to help restaurant owners cost out vendor items, portion, sub recipes, recipes, and menu items costs. In addition, there is an expense page to enter your daily, weekly, and monthly expenses. Our software will use these numbers to calculate your daily expense once you enter the number of days you’re open in a year.

How much should I charge for each menu item I sell? Great question! It depends on the cost of food and labor. Let’s not forget our other expense. Let’s take a look at our example below Mac & Cheese. This Mac & Cheese comes with a side of broccoli and apple.

I entered the following items into my software to get the plate or menu item cost. The total cost of this plate is $2.48 and I’m selling it for $7.00 in my restaurant. Typically, most restaurant owners will take cost of the plate $2.48 and multiply it by 3 to get a price. In this case, we should charge $7.44 in theory this number should cover all of our costs.

You’ll notice that under the “Added Items” I selected items from my pantry and one of items are labeled as a recipe. This recipe has a cost tied to it and I’m only using the portioned cost of my recipe. What you don’t see is that the cheese sauce recipe has a sub recipe. All these costs add up and when not considered can hurt your bottom line.
Build your food order guide

You have a lot going on before your doors open and you’ll find that there will be down times. You can spend it worrying about your restaurant opening on time or you can be proactive and begin costing out your food. In our software, it’s important you build ONE food order guide. This is all the food you plan or are using in your restaurant. The food order guide is essential and once it’s built you can use it for every vendor without having to enter it again. In some restaurant the food order guide can be well over 500 items. Who wants to enter this every time you add a new vendor?

On this page of our software you define the item and you can also get the nutrition facts for that item using our integrated USDA database. The food item name should always be used as a friendly name. A name that makes sense to you and that you can use to tie vendor item too. This way you can compare pricing on an item. Once you’ve entered all of your food items in the food order guide it’s time to create you vendors.

Entering your vendor item details

Once you’ve entered you vendors, you want to make sure you go to the vendor items page and enter the details from your vendor on this page to begin calculating your portioned costs.
This is a great page to calculate your purchases from your vendors. Here you enter the item, the number of packages, weight, purchase price, and yield to get your portioned cost. For example, you may have chicken purchased by the pound and on your plate you put 4 ounces of chicken. Wouldn’t it be great to know how much each ounce is costing you? You will get the raw costs immediately on this page.

Sub Recipe Costs

We looked at our Mac & Cheese menu item earlier and I mentioned that we used a sub recipe in that Mac & Cheese menu item. It’s the sub recipe we will use in our cheese sauce recipe for Mac & Cheese. Below are all the ingredients I used to build a base sauce I labeled béchamel. When I combine all the ingredients below it will yield 1 gallon and I portion the gallon into 3 cup portions this will give me 5.33 servings. If it seems complicated, it’s not and our software can do the math for you. The total recipe costs 24.16 and you will notice our software captures ingredients, labor, and materials in this recipe. 3 cups of this béchamel sauce cost 4.54 this is huge to know that your labor and materials were captured in the sub recipe. These are real costs that need to be recorded.

Recipe Costs

Let’s look at that cheese sauce and that has the béchamel sub recipe included. Below are the ingredients used to build my cheese sauce for Mac & Cheese. You will notice that the first item is my béchamel sauce in my earlier example. That sub recipe will now be added to my recipe; more importantly, all of the costs come over with it. When I combine my sub recipes and all the other ingredients it will yield 2.5 quarts and I portion those quarts into 3 cup portions this will give me 3.33 servings. Now that my sauce is ready and portioned I can put it on the line ready for my first Mac & Cheese order!

In our example above, I have added a line for labor. It took labor to build my sub recipe and labor to build my recipe. All the ingredients combined give me a recipe cost of 22.27 and 6.83 for 3 cups.

Menu or Plate Costs

Earlier we looked at our Mac & Cheese menu item. Below we plate the items and the last ingredient I added was my recipe cheese sauce. We went through the full life cycle from build a sub recipe to creating a cheese recipe we will use with our pasta. My Mac & Cheese comes with a side of broccoli and apple. The total cost of my menu item is 2.33 and this included our ingredients, materials, and labor from both our sub recipe and recipe. Now we’re cooking!

Here is my cost breakdown:

Sells for 7.00
Cost me 2.33

With a 15% food cost and a gross profit of 66% this menu item is a real winner! Understanding your costs before you open will be vital to your success. As you build your business plan, you will find it’s difficult to wrap your arms around your potential revenue and daily costs. I created software called www.recipe-costing.com to help restaurant owners cost out vendor items, portion, sub recipes, recipes, and menu items costs. In addition, there is an expense page to enter your daily, weekly, and monthly expenses. Our software will use these numbers to calculate your daily expense once you enter the number of days you’re open in a year.