Material costs: how to optimize recipe sheets on an ongoing basis?

Recipe sheets are essential for passing on your know-how and keeping material costs down in your establishments. So how do you create and maintain effective recipe cards?

Camille Bazy

Camille Bazy


Dec 2023

Material costs: how to optimize recipe sheets to combine margins and quality?
In this article :

Most consumption discrepancies are due to errors in measurement during the preparation of a dish, or to a technical data sheet that doesn't take into account all the steps involved in processing the material. Here are our tips for continuous optimization!

The impact of recipe cards on material costs

Technical data sheets are as much about ensuring the quality of your dishes as they are about maintaining margins in your establishments. They enable you to : 

  • ‍Transmittingoperational know-how

In this way, the technical data sheet ensures the consistency of dishes in all the company's establishments. The challenge for head office is to easily communicate the technical data sheets, which evolve according to the menu, and to ensure that the proportions of ingredients are followed by the preparers, cooks and franchisees.

  • ‍Anticipatinginventories

Inpulse centralizes recipe sheets from the retail chains, and the AI automatically calculates raw material requirements based on sales forecasts and the proportions defined for each product. 

  • ‍Controlraw materials consumption

Your theoretical material cost is calculated on the basis of the quantities specified in the recipe sheet. Approximations can have a significant impact on margins. Inpulse gives you access to the actual material cost per dish and per establishment , so you can check whether there is any overconsumption, loss, theft or increase in the price of an ingredient that would impact your margin.

"Before, we used to wait more than a month to compare the theoretical material cost I had defined when designing the recipes with the actual material cost. The time it took to get the data out, to get together, we weren't very responsive. With Inpulse, we can manage our menu with a real vision of costs, we have a food cost per product and per restaurant. This means we can make specific decisions to target actions." Matthieu Monzat, Revenue Director at Street Bangkok11 restaurants.

Precise technical data sheets are the key to calculating AND maintaining the cost price of your dish. So how do you create and maintain effective technical data sheets?

1. Detail all ingredients, even those in small quantities

We tend to concentrate on the main elements, but it is necessary to quantify even those used in very small quantities.

For example, a few coriander leaves or peanut powder need to be weighed and included in the recipe sheet to measure all the raw materials used.

2. Distinguish between gross and net weight

It's important to distinguish between gross and net weights in order to estimate the correct proportion in your recipe card. The difference can be considerable, and this is a mistake to be avoided. Gross weight represents the total quantity of an ingredient before any preparation or processing. The net weight, on the other hand, is the actual quantity of the ingredient that can be used in the recipe once it has been prepared, cleaned and, if necessary, stripped of any non-edible parts. 

For a sushi platter, for example, you need to take into account the weight of the uncooked rice. 

3. Identify processing losses 

Gram losses during raw material processing can be caused by a variety of factors. For example, when cutting or preparing ingredients, residues or pieces may be lost unintentionally. Take, for example, the cutting of vegetables or salmon: parts may be eliminated for aesthetic reasons or because they do not meet quality standards.

What's more, certain processing stages, such as cooking, can cause ingredients to lose weight, especially when water evaporates. Even small variations in processing methods or cooking techniques can result in gram losses which, when accumulated over many preparations, have an impact on material costs. 

Taking eggplant parmigiana as an example, between cooking and cutting, we go from 1 kilo of raw eggplant to 500g of ready-to-assemble eggplant.

4. Gram what corresponds to "spoon", "ladle"...

To facilitate assembly in the kitchen, and to control the quantity to be used for each dish, we recommend the use of a ladle or measuring spoon. These utensils make it easier to keep to the correct weight without slowing down preparation time. In this case, it is necessary to foresee the gram equivalence of the quantity used with these measuring utensils.

For example, a ladleful of cooked mushrooms corresponds to 80g of raw mushrooms in the technical data sheet. 

5. Training in compliance with recipe sheets 

Once the recipe sheets have been precisely optimized, everything must be put in place to ensure that they are followed up in the field. Given the high turnover in the foodservice industry, it is essential to facilitate the transfer of knowledge. Thanks to the detailed technical data sheets on the Inpulseplatform, preparers can follow each step of the preparation process, accompanied by illustrative visuals. This enables new staff to be trained quickly. 

To ensure ongoing team training, restaurant managers or network coordinators can carry out spot checks by weighing each ingredient to verify compliance with technical data sheets.

6. Check actual consumption

Between two inventory points, Inpulse enables you to check the theoretical consumption of your ingredients, calculated from the quantities on the technical data sheets, against actual sales. If actual consumption is higher, this means that there is overconsumption or undeclared loss.

Inpulse allows you to declare losses and analyze discrepancies in just a few clicks, so you can quickly identify malfunctions in all your restaurants.

"We've reduced our salmon losses by 45% in 1 year, even though the price has soared this year. With Inpulse, we can better anticipate our raw material requirements and measure consumption variations. With this in-depth analysis of markdowns, we can implement corrective measures" Emmanuel Taib , Founder of Côté Sushi75 restaurants.

7. Modify recipes to maintain material costs

Market prices are constantly changing, and this has a direct impact on material costs. The cost price calculated when the recipe was created will evolve over time.

Thanks to Inpulsegives you access to your raw material costs, based on your recipes and automatically-updated price lists. This means you can regularly monitor increases in raw material costs, and make decisions based on the actual material cost of your dishes. You have access to reliable data in real time, enabling you to react quickly: modify ingredients or proportions if necessary.

To explore this subject in greater depth, we've published a white paper outlining 11 strategies for controlling material costs in the face of inflation. Find out how brands such as Pitaya, Columbus Café, Franks Hot Dog, Côté Sushi and Gruppomimp are optimizing their profitability. Download free of charge here.


To go further

More than 2,000 restaurants and points of sale use Inpulse every day