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Hospitality Management
Menu Management

Menu Planning

A MENU or “bill of fare” is a means of communication, informing what the caterer has to offer. The compiling of a menu is one of the caterer’s most important jobs – whether for establishments such as restaurants aiming to make a profit or for those working to a budget, such as hospitals and schools.

The function of the MENU:

  1. It is like a price list or a list of wares to the customers in order that he purchases or orders the dishes of his choice.

  2. It helps us a tool for the kitchen in order to prepare the mise-en-place and equipment, staff required for its production.

  3. It gives a variety to choose from and alternatives in each type of dishes.

  4. It sometimes gives the description of each dish in brief, so that the customer knows the contents of the dish and what to expect while ordering a dish.

  5. It is a record of cost and control purposes to regulate portion size and food cost of each item.


Factors Affecting Menu Planning


  1. Type of Establishment: There will be considerable variation, for example, in the menu of five-star hotels and restaurants, school meals, heavy manual worker’s canteen or hospitals.

  2. Type of Customer and Age Group: especially for private parties for a birthday, senior citizens conference, football player after a match, visiting overseas students on a mayor’s banquet; all need personal consideration.

  3. Location: Study the area in which your establishment is situated and the potential target market of customers.

  4. Religious rules if applicable (kosher catering or a Muslim occasion): Lack of knowledge or understanding can easily lead to innocently giving offense.

  5. Meat or Non-Meat preferences: The number of non-meat eaters is steadily increasing, so this becomes more important.

  6. Time of the Year:
    a) the prevailing temperature should be considered as certain dishes suitable for cold weather may not be acceptable in mid-summer.
    b) Foods in season are usually in good supply and more reasonable in price.
    c) Special dishes on certain days.

  7. Time of Day: Breakfast, brunch, lunch, tea, high-tea, dinner, supper, snack or special function.

  8. Price Range: Unless fair prices are charged (so that customers are satisfied) repeat business may not occur and the caterer may go out of business.

  9. Competition: It is wiser to produce a menu quite different from those of nearby establishment both in terms of price and quality.

  10. Space and Equipment: The menu writer must be aware of any shortcomings or deficiencies in equipment and may be wary of offering dishes that are difficult to produce.

  11. The availability and capacity of both the Production and Service staff labor must be considered.

  12. Availability of Supplies and schedule from the suppliers.

  13. Number of Courses: Varies according to all prior consideration.

  14. Correct Sequence of courses: Important if the menu is to achieve a good balance.

  15. Appropriate Language: Always use a language that customers can understand.

  16. Sensible Nutritional Balance: If a selection of dishes with varying nutritional contents is offered then customers can make their own choices.

  17. No repetition of Commodities: Never repeat basic ingredients such as mushrooms, tomatoes, peas, bacon on the menu.

  18. No repetition of Flavour: If using strong seasonings like onion, garlic or herbs such as thyme, sage or bay leaf, do not repeat in more than one course. Example: 
    a) do not serve a tomato flavored sauce on the main course if the soup was cream of tomato.      
    b) do not or avoid, serving let us say garlic-flavored noodles with prawn in garlic sauce.      
    c) try to different taste in the meat itself by providing a choice between beef. Pork, lamb,

  19. No repetition of Colours: Colour of food is important to give appetite appeal, but avoid repetition of color.

  20. The texture of Course: Ensure variation is given (food should not be all soft or all crisp, but balanced).

  21. Sauces: If different sauces are served on one menu, the foundation ingredient of each sauce should vary.

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