Call us now: 01202 348007Email us Login

How to cost a dish

In June I featured in an episode of Alex Polizzi's The Hotel Inspector on Channel 5, where I was called in as their Pub Expert. Alex described me on the show as "the award-winning publican with a proven record of bringing pubs back from the brink." 

Nice eh!?


But it’s true, I do work very hard with clients to help them understand where the profits can be found and so I thought I’d add a blog today to make it super easy for you to take control too. Perhaps now it's time to revisit food costings or even do them for the first time? 

If you are not quite sure how to cost a dish – here’s a blow-by-blow guide for doing it manually, or, perhaps you could just give us a call and let us help you?

The simplest way to do this is to calculate the cost per gram or ml of a specific ingredient and multiply this figure by the quantity used in the recipe or dish.

  • You need to know the weight or volume of the ingredient as it is purchased
    (this will be written on the packet or on the invoice for the product) 

  • You need to know the cost of that ingredient for that specified weight or volume (this will be found on the invoice or price list) 

  • You will probably need a calculator! 

1 kg of sugar costs £0.99. 
To work out the cost per gram you need to divide £0.99 by 1000 (number of grams in a kilo) = 0.00099p per g. 

    Next you need to work out the cost of the amount of that ingredient you are using in your recipe.
Say your recipe uses 350g of sugar, to work this out you take the price for 1g of sugar (0.00099p) and multiply this figure by 350 (the number of grams in your recipe).

    The calculation is as follows:
0.00099 x 350 = 0.3465 - rounded up = £0.35 (or 35p) 

So, the formula is:

  1. Cost of ingredient (purchase quantity) £/p 

  2. Divided by weight or volume of purchase ingredient in grams or ml 

  3. Multiplied by weight or volume used in dish in grams or ml 

  4. Equals cost of quantity used in the recipe or dish of that specific ingredient 

Batch Size

For a recipe you will need to determine the total batch size (finished quantity of the bulk recipe) you are making.

E.g. this recipe makes 30 kg which is 40 portions of 750g

For many recipes, don’t forget to factor in shrinkage for meat or evaporation for sauces and stews.

For example, a roast joint of beef may have a raw weight of 5 kilos and cost £35 or £7 per kilo or 0.007p per gram. Once cooked, the servable weight of this joint is 4 kilos after 20% is wasted in the cooking process. This means that 4 kilos has cost you £35 or £8.75 per kilo or 0.00875p per gram.

This is important: If you cost the dish using the cost of the raw weight your figures will be inaccurate and make it impossible to achieve an actual GP in practice that matches the theoretical GP of your costings.

Using the roast meat example above, if you serve 200g portions of roast beef you will get 20 portions from this joint at a cost of £1.75 per portion - 200 x 0.00875 or £35 divided by 20.

If you had not allowed for wastage you would be working to the wrong cost based only on raw meat of £1.40.

Once you have calculated all the ingredient costs, allowing for shrinkage, you need to add them up to make a total recipe or dish cost.

To understand how to calculate how much you need to sell this item for on the menu – click here.

Happy number crunching!

The above is an excerpt from Ali Carter’s (Managing Director of CaterCost) brilliant book “Eat You Competition For Lunch” available on Amazon for just £12.95. Click this link to buy now: LINK.  

Posted by on: June 27th, 2016

Ever wondered just how much it costs you when chefs having a 'bad day'? We'll send a real-life scenario on just how much profit could be disappearing from YOUR kitchen and why...

cannot connect to twitter feed