Abby Slutsky worked in a commercial kitchen while she completed an internship for culinary school and currently owns a baking business.
Although I am not in the restaurant business, I did take classes in culinary school and complete an internship in a commercial kitchen that was run very well. Working in a commercial kitchen opened my eyes to profitable items that are definitely worthwhile to include on a restaurant menu. Here are my top picks for items that are popular, cheap to prepare, and include food that does not have a long shelf life. These offerings were always available in the restaurant where I worked.
When a restaurant makes its own soup, it gets an opportunity to use ingredients that have a short shelf life or may be perfectly salable from a freshness perspective but not salable because of their appearance. For example, envision serving a turkey and mashed potato entree. The chef is carving beautiful slices of turkey, but what happens to the small fragments of turkey that are too small to serve? Using them in soup can produce a rich, fragrant meal that feeds a lot of people at a cost-efficient price.
Soup takes time to make, and many people would probably buy a can at the store instead of making it themselves. Thus, even though soup is inexpensive to make, customers are willing to buy it for the convenience of getting a bowl that is far better than what they would eat at home.
Additionally, many soups can be frozen. Thus, restaurants can prep and prepare soup in advance. They can easily rotate a soup of the day or week without having to make it from scratch the day they need it
An FSR article quotes various chefs who indicate that soups cost little to make and are a big profit booster. Although I have observed soup sell for as little as $2.00 a bowl in my area, it is more common to see soups sell for between $4.00 and $8.00. High-end restaurants sell soups for more money. For example, Fleming’s sells French onion soup for more than $12.00 a bowl.
Patrons perceive soups as a healthy dining alternative, and many like to purchase soup paired with sandwiches or salads. Additionally, purchasing soup by itself is frequently one of the cheapest menu options even though it is a high profit item for a restaurant; thus, soup is appealing to patrons for its flavor, taste, and cost.
2. Egg Entrees
Many restaurants offer egg-based dishes for breakfast, but having egg dishes available on lunch and dinner menus can be a good idea as well.
Eggs are one of the most reasonably-priced proteins a restaurant can serve. They can sell quiche as a breakfast, lunch, or dinner, and it is very versatile. Restaurants can make it with vegetables, meat, or cheese, so it is the perfect entree to use up food that may not be suitable for sale by itself. Best of all, restaurants can freeze quiche and make it in advance.
I have only been to a handful of restaurants that offer omelets on their dinner menus. However, restaurants that serve them for dinner can easily charge more than double the price of a dozen eggs, and low-cost accompaniments such as potatoes and toast make this a profitable meal. The one drawback to serving omelets for dinner is that customers frequently like to customize them whereas patrons ordering quiche choose from the selection the restaurant offers.
3. Bread Pudding
Although I love baking, I never made bread pudding before I worked in a commercial kitchen for my culinary internship. I was responsible for making many of the desserts, and the restaurant offered bread pudding daily.
The beauty of bread pudding was that it made use of stale bread, and the varieties you could make were endless. Additionally, it was easy to make a lot of portions in a single pan with minimal effort. We would cut bread pudding into squares, warm it up, decorate it with a little syrup or sauce, and embellish it with a garnish . Some restaurants serve it with a small scoop of ice cream. In minutes, a square of bread pudding can look like an impressive dessert.
Patrons loved the bread pudding, and it was a fantastic way to use up leftover fruit, bread, and other ingredients that we had on hand. Even better, bread pudding freezes well, so leftover portions do not go to waste.
I am surprised that it is not a menu staple at most restaurants. However, some restaurants do not make their own desserts, so I suppose that could be a reason.
4. Mason Jar Desserts
Mason jar desserts usually have some kind of cake or cookie crumble on the bottom, so picture a restaurant using a fallen cake to create many mason jar desserts. (What an opportunity to turn a culinary mishap into a profitable dessert.) Mason jar desserts are layered with a custard, mousse or other filling. They may also contain fruit, coconut, chocolate or other sweet embellishments.
Additionally, mason jars are often a small dessert and some restaurants market them as a low-calorie sweet ending. Restaurants can fill mason jars with so many combinations that they are perfect for using up perishable fruit before it goes bad.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2020 Abby Slutsky
Abby Slutsky (author) from America on September 16, 2020:
Thanks so much for reading.
Denise McGill from Fresno CA on September 16, 2020:
Good point about the soups. I love a good soup and it does stretch a meal. Good advice.
Abby Slutsky (author) from America on September 13, 2020:
Thank you for reading and sharing your thoughts.
Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on September 13, 2020:
Abby Slutsky, A soup sounds a good starter. In Croatia it is a tradition to have a starter of soup and to follow with second and third course meals. A great start to a meal and you shared useful tips.
Abby Slutsky (author) from America on September 11, 2020:
Thanks for reading.
Sp Greaney from Ireland on September 11, 2020:
I see soup on every restaurant menu here as a starter. It's interesting to see too how you can make dishes at an affordable price by using items you already have in the store room.
Abby Slutsky (author) from America on September 10, 2020:
Thanks so much for reading.
Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on September 10, 2020:
I like all of your suggestions. I especially like soups. I also agree with the egg dishes. This is an interesting article.