Menu PlanningIn the last post, The Benefits of Menu Planning, we talked about the advantages of having a menu plan for your kitchen. It can take a bit of work to sort one out initially, but it will make everyone’s job easier and is more efficient in the end.

It can be hard to know exactly what to consider when putting together a menu plan, so we’ve taken out some of the hard work and given you a few pointers.

  • Decide the length of time you want the plan to run for – do you want a menu plan for a week, a month, two months? Think about what will suit your kitchen and kitchen staff best. Generally, one month seems to work best for most kitchens.
  • Food storage – consider how much food you can realistically store in your kitchen. Do you have enough fridge, freezer and dry store space for a month’s worth of food?
  • Choose your recipes – think about what your kitchen staff can reasonably get done in a day and keep in mind the type of food your clients need to stay healthy. Also, to help keep costs down, you can use leftovers from the day before to make other meals; for example, cooking rice for your main meal and using the leftovers to make rice pudding for the next day.
  • Plan recipes around the number of people you cater for – some meals are easier to cook than others, especially when you have 50 people to cook for.
  • What produce is available ­– not everything is available all year around; if something is in season, it will cost you less.
  • Allergies and special dietary requirements – do any of your clients have special needs? Do your recipes take this into account, or do you have alternatives you can give them?
  • Kitchen staff – how many staff do you have in your kitchen? Are they able to work together to provide more complex meals, or do you have to scale it back a bit to make sure your kitchen can meet the needs of the clients? One cook is not going to be able to do as much as three cooks can.
  • Plan ahead – if your kitchen runs Monday to Friday, make sure your Monday meals are quick and easy to prepare as you won’t be getting anything done over the weekend. Otherwise, plan a few things to get done on the previous Friday that won’t go bad over the weekend.

We’ve given you a ready-made template for a month long menu plan in the Kitchen Resources section of the website – feel free to download it and change it to suit your needs. You will also be able to find great recipes there that are added monthly.

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Chef Duncan

Ryan and Maggie Duncan are our resident chefs, putting together delicious, nutritious and easy-to-make recipes, as well as writing some of the weekly blogs. They enjoy travelling the world together, experiencing new cultures, foods and locations.