Portions In Food Service

The size of the portion served to the guest varies based on a number of factors. The first factor is the meal period. Lunch portions are smaller than dinner portions. Some restaurants offer the same entrees for both lunch and dinner. The dinner portions are larger than the same item at lunch and might come with a choice of soup or salad. If this is the case, the menu price for the dinner entree is higher than the comparable entree served for lunch.

In a restaurant where the norm for dinner is a five-course meal, the size of the entree is probably smaller than the one in the above example. In this dining situation, the guest is served an appetizer, a soup, an intermezzo, the entree, and then a salad. If the size of the entree is too large, it has the chance of ending up in a "doggie bag" or worse (the garbage can).

Some food service operators check the garbage can during service. The can tells you what the customers did not like or could not finish. If there are certain entrees that always end up in the can, perhaps the portion size is too large.

The size of the portion varies by the market or the clientele the operation is trying to attract. Recent news stories focus on the "super-sized" meals offered at every fast-food outlet. Many fast-food customers opt for these super-sized meals. A casino hotel company in Las Vegas used to offer its buffet customers the "Plate of Plenty." The plastic plate had three sections and was 16 inches in diameter. Some customers are looking for quantity, while others are looking for quality.

What is the "average" portion size? The average portion size is what your restaurant develops its recipes to serve. The portion size for a protein item—for example, ahi tuna—could be 4 ounces, for a rib eye steak, it might be 8 ounces. The portion size will vary; the cost per portion is what matters. It must be determined based on the cost to prepare and serve that particular portion size. Once the recipes are developed and a portion cost is determined, we must ensure that the correct portion size is served to the guest.

There are many ways to control portion size. The easiest way is by the size of the service ware. Soup has to be served in a soup cup or bowl. A soup cup holds 4 fluid ounces and a bowl holds 8 fluid ounces. There is not any possible way to overportion soup. Glasses, paper cups, and coffee cups are similar to soup cups and bowls with regard to portioning. You cannot serve a portion larger than the container size.

Plates can be purchased in many different sizes. A dinner plate has a diameter of 10 inches with a decorative lip around the edge. The actual "plating" area is only 8 inches. A luncheon plate has a diameter that is 8 or 9 inches. The decorative lip leaves an actual "plating" area at 6 to 7 inches. Smaller-size plates are available for salads and desserts.

The back of the house can control portion size by using ladles, scoops, and scales. Once a portion size has been determined, the proper size ladle or scoop can be used to correctly portion the food items served to guests. If sliced meats are serviced, a portion-control scale can be used. All of these techniques ensure the amount of food we serve to the guest has the correct menu price to cover the cost of the food, other operating expenses, and our profit.

The production forecast estimates the number of covers of each menu item that our customers will order per meal period, per day. The standardized recipe produces a standard yield. Many food service operators with a static menu and a fairly consistent customer count think the development of a production forecast is a waste of time. However, time spent reviewing the sales history from last year and the recent past is time well spent prior to purchasing products and scheduling employees. This way there are no unexpected surprises because of a craft fair or a three-day weekend. The wise and successful operators review their forecasts and compare it to their product usage and labor cost.

PRODUCTION PLANNING AND CONTROL REVIEW PROBLEMS ^ 1 35

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  • Edward
    Are lunch portions less than dinner portions?
    2 months ago