Creating a Balanced Menu

Creating a Balanced Menu

“A balanced menu should have a variety of proteins, starters and soups.
Change the menu regularly and offer specials.”

Chef Dhillon Ng (Malaysia)

A Balanced Menu and Why It’s Important

A Balanced Menu and Why It’s Important

Put simply, a balanced menu is about having a selection of dishes, options to order sharing-sized portions and an even variety of meat and fish dishes, so there’s always something for all the different types of diners. Your guests will naturally appreciate and notice that your offers are clear, concise and varied without being too overwhelming. When done right, a balanced menu can make it easier for guests to choose what they want at a price they feel is fair. This also helps to create more profit and put you ahead of the competition.

How to Build a Balanced Menu

Identify your guests and their needs, and use the six elements below to help you create a perfectly balanced menu.

Size

Bigger isn’t always better. Manage your menu by categorising your dishes into sections (e.g. starters, mains, desserts). If you offer too many dishes, you risk repeating the same ingredients throughout your menu, making delivery tougher on your team and storage of stock a struggle. Most importantly, diners will have a hard time deciding what they want. A smaller menu that you can deliver perfectly all the time is always better.

How to Build a Balanced Menu

Seasonality

Creating seasonal dishes shows your diners creativity and gives them more and new reasons to come back. While year-round dishes provide the staple ingredients for your menu, seasonal ones add variety. You can also tie in with popular festivals (e.g. Christmas, Chinese New Year) to make your menu relevant to your diners.

Ratio

This simply means striking the right balance in your menu. This could be the number of meat to fish to vegetarian dishes you offer, or heavy and light choices, or even spicy to delicately flavoured food. As more diners become aware of health and nutrition, it’s important to incorporate a few healthy dishes in your menu.

The following is an example; feel free to adapt it to suit you and your guests.

Starters
25% Vegetarian
35% Meat & Poultry
40% Fish & Seafood

Mains
15% Vegetarian
20% White Meat
30% Red Meat
35% Fish & Seafood

How to Build a Balanced Menu

Healthy Dishes

Diners are becoming more aware of healthy eating. Some look for less calories and fats, while others look for more nutrients in their food. Make sure to offer healthy dishes on your menu and point them out (with arrows or icons) to your guests. You can even create an entire healthy option section!

Pricing

Review your pricing and costs regularly to stay competitive, have better-priced food, and make a profit. Use pricing to differentiate your dishes to make it easier for your diners to make a choice.

How to Build a Balanced Menu

Dish Details

Beyond the main dish component (e.g. cod, steak, chicken), look at the rest of your dish elements like the garnish, dressing, or cooking technique. See if you have too many dishes on your menu with the same dressing or cooking technique, and ensure you have enough variety to present your guests with exciting new dishes.


Keep these elements in mind, always experiment and see what works best for you and your market. Meet your diners and ask for feedback. You never know, they might give you valuable suggestions on creating a more cohesive menu.

Download this checklist to help you check if your menu is balanced >

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