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Module 3: The Importance of Menu Planning

Once you know the factors to consider when planning a menu and ensuring it’s balanced, it’s time to create the menu. Use our reference guide to engineer your physical menu, based on seven factors:

  • Your guests
  • Production & service capabilities
  • Availability of ingredients
  • Food cost
  • Menu balance
  • Menu accuracy
  • Menu presentation

Your Guests


  • Be market driven.
  • Ensure it meets diners’ needs and preferences.


  • Avoid out-dated dishes that do not appeal to the market.

Production & Service Capabilities


  • Check that dishes are deliverable by restaurant staff considering available skills, tools and equipment.


  • Skip overly complicated dishes that are difficult to execute.
  • Avoid presentations that increase food costs.

Availability of Ingredients


  • Use authentic, suitable and available ingredients that add to the flavour and texture.
  • Have at least 30% of dishes that are seasonal with at least 2 seasonal dishes per section.


  • Resist using hard-to-source or inconsistent ingredients.
  • Prevent reliance on any one specific ingredient as price hikes can impact operational costs.

Food Cost


  • Target food cost to be at most 30 - 35% of the price of the dish.
  • Ensure that no more than 10% of the dishes are low profit items and price at least 30% of the dishes as high profit items.


  • Avoid top-selling items that are low in profit.

Menu Balance


  • Create a maximum of 2 menus.
  • Have a menu designed for use in-between meal times.
  • Keep between 3 to 6 sections on main menus and 2 to 4 sections on secondary menus.
  • Have about 4 to 12 dishes per section as too many options make choosing what to order difficult.
  • Feature a minimum of 1 or more signature dishes in at least 3 sections of the menu.
  • Have at least 1 healthy option per menu section and offer healthy substitutes to health-conscious diners.


  • Prevent having too many menus as they will confuse your guests.
  • Resist repetitive dishes with the same components and cooking methods.

Menu Accuracy


  • Show information related to quantity clearly and accurately.
  • Use internationally recognised quality grades correctly.
  • Clearly indicate prices, taxes and additional charges.
  • Accurately represent brands of ingredients used.
  • Declare ingredients and substitutes used.
  • Represent origin of dishes and ingredients.
  • Be truthful in cooking and preservation methods.


  • Avoid pictures that do not match the quantity and quality of the actual dish.
  • Resist making false claims.

Menu Presentation


  • Keep the physical size of the menu between A3 and A5 as larger sizes will be difficult to handle and anything too small will be hard to read.
  • Plan the menu layout the way you would serve a meal – starters, mains then desserts.
  • Use a clear font style and check for spelling or grammatical errors.
  • Keep the menu design simple as a cluttered menu can distract diners from dishes.
  • Ensure the menu material is of a good quality and that it fits the theme of your restaurant.
  • The top right and middle are the most visible sections on the menu and should be reserved for the most profitable dishes.
  • The first and last dish of each section is the most memorable so highly profitable dishes should go here.
  • Promote daily specials clearly so diners are focused on the dishes that are the most profitable.

Congratulations, you’ve completed the Menu Engineering 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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