Food purchasing for any restaurant especially for new established restaurant is very complex and intricate factory. Basically it is a sub system which has to be integrated and operated as a part of whole operational system. Purchasing and receiving of food items like meat, produce, groceries, bakery and dairy products, seafood and burgers require a complete system. Procuring fresh and quality products, their proper receiving, storage, issuing, consumption and than re-ordering requires well established procedure and close monitoring. It is crucial to accurately define market prices. The best tactics to accomplish this objective is to negotiate a long term contract (annual if possible) at a fixed cost with downside protection where you can get it. Suppliers for some of the perishable items and groceries may be invited to bid on range of items for a week or month. This allows the restaurant to control the process.

Standards for food are set, preferably in written, before a restaurant opens. The amount to purchase are based on a forecast of sales, which admittedly is a guess mated without a sales history. Here previous experience with similar kind of restaurant is most helpful and valuable.

Purveyors / suppliers are contacted; issues like quality of the product, competitive price, time of delivery, mode and time of payment and return policy are discussed and agreed upon. Credits are established, food received and stored. When in operation, par-stocks (the reasonable amount to have on hand) and re-order points (a point that indicate more should be ordered) are established.

Food Purchasing System

Purchasing is a sub-system within total restaurant system, a sub- system that once installed can be set in motion, repeating itself. The following are the steps in putting a purchasing system together.

  • Based on the menu, determined the quality of food standards required.

  • Gather product availability information and select supplier based on reliability of service, price and honesty. Obtain food samples and test them in order to select the best.

  • Have one or two alternate supplier in contact for comparison.

  • Usually it is the responsibility of the store keeper to place order and receive supplies and give him the authority to reject delivery of substandard items. Make sure that the person ordering is different from person receiving and that manager authorizes or places each order, even for meat and other perishables.

  • Setup storage space for maximum utilization.

  • Establish the amount needed to be stocked, par-stock for each item.

  • Setup inventory control system.

  • Decide on optimal delivery size to reduce cost of delivery and handling.

  • Check all deliveries for quality, quantity / weight and price.

  • Tie inventory control and cost control system together.




The Purchasing Cycle

A purchasing cycle can be setup that rolls along efficiently, a system that repeats itself day after day with minimal demand on the operator. Product specification needs only to be reviewed, not reset each time food is ordered. Par-stock and re-order point are relatively fixed and changed only as sales volume changes appreciably or as menu changes. Major suppliers are not changed frequently. Receiving, issuing, and recording are done systematically and this information becomes the data for cost control system.

It is usually the manager who in consultation with chef and other key people, decides on product specification, selects supplier and have a rough figure in mind for par-stock and re-order point. It is highly recommended that one person and one person only who has a clear understanding of food cost control and of the restaurant market should setup and operate the food purchasing system. That person is usually the manager. Too often it is the chef, who has supplier friends, who get the orders and charge high price. Experienced restaurant operate do not let a supplier “par-up” the restaurant. Remember, suppliers are in the business of selling food, beverage and related items to restaurant and will likely of selling food, beverage and related items to restaurant and will likely attempt to sell whatever they have on hand.

Quality Food Standards

Standards for food quality are set to serve a particular market. Some operator serve only fresh of every thing and would not settle for frozen or canned food. Usually most up- scale restaurant operators prefer to sell fresh produce and chicken, seafood and beef. Steak are used the frozen ones. The quality of frozen items is believed to be lower than the fresh items.

Buying by Specification

While many restaurant do not spell out in detail a specification for each food item purchased. The specification is usually well outlined in the operator’s mind. Each restaurant needs a quality of food that will fit its market. The quality needed varies with the market and also with food item being produced. Canned / tin vegetables used in made-up dish need not to be of fancy grade. Canned beef may be satisfactory for deli (thinly) sliced sandwich. Apples for use in any salad need not to be of same quality as those to be eaten out of hand, where appearance is important.

How Much Inventory

Very often a lower cost fruit or vegetable is the best quality for a particular purpose. Every food item has a shelf life (the length of time it can be stored without appreciable loss in quality or weight). Nearly every food that contains a large amount of water shrinks with storage. Even under ideal refrigeration of 200F below zero, ice cream shrinks.

Consider also the rupees tied up in inventory, inventory that represents money and that draws no interest and does no work for the restaurant. There should be no more inventory than what is actually needed to cover the operation from one delivery date to another. This is an “ideal” however, it achieve the goal. The ideal cannot be realized if the operation has delivery problems or may be some distance from a source of food materials.

The temptation to buy large quantity when price reduction is available is always there, but this requires extra handling and space and time for most items. Some storerooms have been seen to hold as much as a year supply of canned fruit merely because salesman convinced the operator that fruit was of good quality and at cheaper price.


Par Stock and Reorder Point

A food purchase system calls for par- stock and a re-order point for each food item. These are based on quantities used, storage space available, and availability of the product.

When it comes to the par- stock for canned foods, the amount that is considered a safe inventory may be ordered only when supply is down to a specified amount such as one case – the re-order point. A fast moving item may require larger quantity as par- stock.

Par Stock on Pre-Prepared Food

The operator with fixed menu has an advantage in buying; pre-preparation of entree can be done in terms of prepared items, so many trays stored under refrigeration. In a restaurant where several items are prepared and stored, purchasing can be done based on the par-stock of prepared and stored items, not on raw food in the refrigerator or freezer. In this way inventory control is tighter. Fresh vegetables, meat and fish are good examples of items on which to get frequent price quotation, especially in high volume restaurant.

The Mechanics of Ordering

Opinions vary as to the best way to place an order for food and supplies. Some experts recommend calling for competitive prices before ordering any thing. This is time consuming. It may also pit the supplier against the operator and the vendor eventually passes on the excessive costs of making small deliveries to the operator. Other restaurants deal only with one or two trusted suppliers. Still others get much of their food supplies at the local super market.

It has been pointed out that a restaurant operator in many instances pays as much or more than does the casual shopper. The supplier has the cost of delivery to the door and usually the cost of providing credit and other services, which must be re-couped, if the supplier is to stay in business. Large restaurants have more formal purchasing system that includes a purchase order. This is a form with three or four copies. One or two copies go to supplier, one of which is used as bill to accompany the delivery. The buyer keeps a copy for company files. A fourth copy may be kept by the person doing the receiving in the restaurant.



Part of the purchasing system is to store food items and other supplier so that they fit into overall system. This means storage arranged for easy receiving, easy issuing, and easy inventory control. In the dry goods storeroom canned, package, and bulk dry food are stored according to usage. The most used foods are stored closest to the door, the least used food items in the less accessible locations.

Once a system of storage has been arranged, the items stored according to usage, a form can be made up of listing the items in the sequence in which they are stored. The mimeographed form then is used in taking physical inventory.

As foods are received, they are stored at the back of shelves, the older items moved forward to be used first. This rotational system helps assure that items are not allowed to become too old and get expired.

The rotation of goods has no relation to any system of food costing. In costing an inventory, the last-in / first-out (LIFO) system costs the items at the price paid for the merchandise purchased last. The first-in / first-out (FIFO) uses the price actually paid for the item. During a period of inflation, the two costs could be quite different. Whichever method is used it must be used consistently.

Convenience foods usually come in a form that makes it possible for them to be stored in minimal amount of space. Other items are received in the form that should be immediately processed to reduce the amount of storage needed.

Buying Meat and other Products

Meat is the most costly food item in most restaurants; it deserves the most thought in drawing up food specifications. Principal factors in meat buying are the cut of the meat (what part of animal), its fat content, tenderness and cost, and the style (its form: carcass, whole sale cut or ready-to-serve portion). Ideally beef is the meat from cattle butchered from the age of 15 weeks and above. Beef products are considered to be red meat. The main beef cuts are:

Brisket: the breast muscle.

  • Chuck: Cut between the neck and the shoulder blade.

  • Flank: the underbelly muscle.

  • Loin: The back muscle between the false ribs and the hipbone.

  • Rib: Cut between the shoulder blade and loin.

  • Round: The leg muscle.

  • Tenderloin: The boneless loin.

  • Once portioned, fabricated cut take names such as:

  • Chateaubriand: A thick centre cut of tenderloin.

  • Club: Steak from the loin.

  • Delmonico: Rib eye steak.

  • Entrecote: Rib steak.

  • Fillet Mignon: Thick tenderloin cut.

  • New York: Lion steak.

  • Porterhouse: Loin steak.

  • T-Bone: Loin Steak.

  • Tournedos: a small tenderloin steak.

  • Garnishes, sauces, and method of cooking give beef steak names that are commonly used in restaurant menus.

  • Seafood is the most popular as well as most expensive food item mainly because of its tenderness and low cholesterol and sodium level. Common cuts of fish are

  • Fillet: Boneless side of fish.

  • Steak: Crosscut of fish body

  • Stick: Crosscut of fillet.

  • Paupiette: Rolled fillet.

  • Darne: Thick fish steak.

Finfish and shellfish can be prepared in different ways. The most common methods are deep fried, grilled, en papillote, meuniere and sautéed. Seafood can be served with different garnishes, which gives the dishes names such as Amandine, Doria and Florentine.


The term poultry applies to edible birds domestically raised. A spring chicken is two to three weeks old. A capon is a fat, castrated male, and a rock Cornish hen is a baby female five to seven weeks old. As far a weight is concern usually one kg to one and half kg chicken is appropriate for most usage. If boneless chicken is to be used higher weight of chicken can be purchased. In continental menu poultry is often served in ways like, ala king, chasseur, deviled and ala Kiev.

As far as fresh produce (vegetables and fruits) are concerned. They should be purchased daily or every other day and used immediately. Few vegetables like potatoes and onion can be purchased of large quantity and stored properly. Other vegetable should be stored in a temperature of 180F-200F to retain its flavour and freshness.




Restaurant Food Purchasing: See example below

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