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Module 3: The Importance of Menu Planning

It’s important to understand the basics before creating your menu:

  • Your guests
  • Production and service capabilities
  • Availability of ingredients
  • Food cost

Learn why each point has a part to play when drawing up a menu.

Your Guests

Understand your guests by:

  • Knowing who they are
  • Why they eat out
  • What they eat
  • When they eat
  • Where they prefer to eat

For a more in-depth discussion, read the module Understanding Your Diners. Important elements to remember include:

  • Meeting their needs and expectations
  • Considering their personal characteristics
  • Understanding potential issues such as health conditions, nutritional needs and religious restrictions
  • Pricing dishes according to what guests would be comfortable with

Production and Service Capabilities

Study the following factors:

1. Size of establishment

  • How big are the kitchen and service areas?
  • What tools and equipment can fit there?
  • What is the staff size needed to operate your establishments?

2. Skills of available staff

  • Are they graduates of culinary schools, experienced in other restaurants, or beginners?
  • What cooking methods are they familiar with?
  • What dishes can they cook?
  • How much food can be dished out at every service time?

3. Available tools and equipment for preparation and service

  • What are the tools and equipment that you already have?
  • What type of dishes can such tools and equipment be used to prepare and cook?

4. Food budget

How much are you willing to spend on food, and how much are you considering to earn from the food budget?

5. Time available for preparation and service

  • What periods will you serve food?
  • Are you going to offer breakfast, afternoon tea or supper?
  • Are you going to open your restaurant only during lunch and dinner?
  • How many hours will be allotted for preparation and cooking?
  • How many meals can the staff prepare and dish out?

Availability of Ingredients

Consider the availability of ingredients and what recipes can be created:

  • Market location – where will your restaurant be located? What are the available ingredients in that location?
  • Ingredients’ seasonality – what are the seasonal ingredients in your location? Can you create special dishes with these seasonal ingredients? Also, use the ingredients that are in season all year round for dishes that will stay in the menu for a long time.
  • Costs – how much are the ingredients in your area? What is the range of prices from supplier to supplier? Will it be better to locate nearby suppliers from another location?

Sourcing ingredients locally means it’s easier to ensure fresh and consistently good ingredients.

Food Cost

It’s important to account for the cost of ingredients to balance quality and profits. It’s covered in-depth in the module The Importance of Counting Costs but take note of the following:

  • Set a target cost, usually 30 to 45% of the food selling price.
  • Check if the cost targets are met and menu pricing is not too high, which might turn off potential diners.
  • Ensure every kitchen staff is cost-conscious and knows the basics of recipe costing

Congratulations, you’ve completed the Major Considerations in Planning Menus topic!

Continue to the next topic or pick a related topic from the Importance of Menu Planning module, or go back to the Chefmanship Academy modules page.

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