food and beverage underground

Kitchen Prep List

A kitchen prep list is a vital part of a smooth operating kitchen. Not only does it allow for an easy to follow list of what needs to be made, but it also is a key player in cost control. The prep list can create problems in the kitchen too if not implemented properly. They are either incomplete or just plain wrong. In this article I will teach you the basics of building a functional kitchen prep list and then will follow it up with a article on implementing and using your prep list to make your operation run better and tighter.

The tried and true way of getting to a kitchen prep list that works is by starting from your menu item list. Each menu item needs to be broken down into its individual component recipes. As a simple example I will use shrimp and grits. The dish is served over a pan seared grit cake with a Tasso cream sauce. There is a separate recipe for the grit cake and a separate recipe for the Tasso cream. It is all put together during service for the final product.

When you first start working this into your kitchen prep list you will have to do some educated guessing as to what demand you are going to have for our shrimp and grits example. You have to take an educated guess by looking at what is on your menu mix and where you think it will fall. Lets say you feel that you will sell say, 100 shrimp and grits dinners per week. A good rule of thumb is that 75% of those will be done on the weekend, Thursday thru Sunday.

In my restaurant I try to get as much of the prep done as I can on three of the days of the week. Monday, where I get a good size order in the morning and prep through the day to restock from the weekend. Thursday, where I get in a big order and prep for the weekend, and Saturday, where I like to do some fill in prep, but this is a light day. Does that mean I don’t have a crew in on the other days? Well of course not, but those days are shorter and focused on getting the freshest fish prepped, specials made and the finer things that separate us from the other guys. Yes, there will be occasions that a little prep will need to be done (say if we had an unexpected run on something) but these are the things I like to avoid where possible.

Well, back to the shrimp and grits. With the mind set of selling 100 per week I would expect to sell 25 Monday thru Wednesday and 75 for the weekend. Knowing that the shelf life for a product like the grit cakes I plan on making enough on Monday for the week, so I adjust my recipe to batch out 125 servings. Why 125 servings? Since this is a longer recipe and can’t be made on the fly I add enough to get me through with a little buffer so I am not caught short. For the Tasso cream sauce I realize that the shelf life is shorter so I plan on making it twice a week. The larger batch I make on Thursday for the weekend and a fill in batch on Monday. In this way I feel confident that there will be enough for the peak periods over the weekend.

The two things that derail a good prep list is the lack of follow through or checking where you stand vs. the actual item sales. Allowing the staff to alter the list or put things off because they want to get out early today is another hazard. Once the kitchen prep list is implemented and followed the flow of your kitchen will improve quickly. Next we will discuss implementing the kitchen prep list.

Go from Kitchen Prep List to Reducing Food Cost

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