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Hospitality Management
Menu Planning

The menu is a French word meaning minute. The menu is a list of food items. Its objects are to present a list of dishes and courses, eatables, and beverages.

Types of Food Menus

There are various types of food menus −

  • table d’ hôte − In this type, multi-course meals with limited choice are charged at a fixed collective price. It is also called a prix fixe, set meal, or set menu. Food on the menu is kept ready.

  • a La’ Carte − An individual dish in the list is priced separately. Food is cooked to order and hence takes a long time to deliver.

  • Event Menus − These are organized for events such as a wedding, birthday, anniversary, and similar other. Such menus are designed well in advance by considering the availability of seasonal ingredients.

  • Ethnic Menus − They are designed as per the cultures, their eating preferences, tastes, and habits around the world. For example, Indian, Chinese, Thai, Kosher, African, and a few similar ones.

  • Theme Menus − It reflects the ambience of the theme-based food joint.

  • Hospital Menus − A dietician is generally involved while compiling such menus to ensure the recipient eats healthy food always. The patient has the least choice.

  • Institutional Menus − It is the menu of meals offered for the staff or students at the college, school, or hostel. It is generally a healthy breakfast and/or three-course meal with some choice.


Structure of Food Menu

The menu must contain the following fields −

  • Name of the Food Item − Preferably in English and in the local language.

  • Short Description of Preparation − A classy description of what exactly the recipient is going to get.

  • The scale of Hotness − In case the dish is savory.

  • Variants − The subcategories of the main food item.

  • Price − Cost per unit dish/serving.

The menu card must be designed to catch the eyes and must be tempting. The description of food items must be easy to read and understandable.

Beverage Menu

The beverage is a refreshing drink other than water. It is divided into two broad categories −

  • Hot Drinks − They mean tea, coffee, chocolate, and their variants, milo, and plain milk.

  • Cold Drinks − Carbonated cold drinks, lemon based drinks, local flavored drinks such as buttermilk, juices, cold coffee, iced tea, mocktails, etc.


The beverage menu must contain the following fields −

  • Name of the Beverage − Preferably in English and in the local language.

  • The Taste and Flavor − To build the mood.

  • Variants − The subcategories of the main beverage.

  • Price − Cost per unit serving.


Bar Menu

If the food service establishment is serving alcoholic drinks, this menu is required. The bar menus contain the list of liquors, cocktails, mixed drinks, bartender’s specialties, soft drinks, one-plate meals, and snacks.


The bar menu must be composed of the following fields −

  • Name of the Drink − Preferably in English and in the local language.

  • The Taste and Flavor − To understand build the mood.

  • Variants − The subcategories of the main drink/dish/snack.

  • Price − Cost per unit serving.


It must also contain a message for responsible drinking.


Factors Affecting Menu Compilation

There are numerous factors that affect menu compilation −

  • The budget of food ingredients procurement

  • Staff capability

  • Availability of seasonal vegetables, fruits, and seafood

  • Adverse health factors such as poultry affected with bird flu

  • Lack of special facilities or equipment required for cooking

  • Costing of recipe considering ingredients + fuel + time

  • The total cost of each dish

  • The total cost of wholemeal

  • Profit margins


Appropriate Pairing of Food and Beverage

Food and beverage are paired in such a way that there is a contrast with slightly different intensity so that the taste of each should counter the other and not spoil it. Pairing and advising which drink goes best with the selected dish are some of the charming tasks in food operations.

The rule of thumb here is, lighter drinks go well with milder food and more robust drinks go with more intensely flavored food. Here are some popular pairings −

To plan a menu, one has to have a thorough knowledge of food, finance, market, and management. A food planner must possess the following abilities:-

1)      He knows his customer likes and dislikes.

2)      Should be able to identify the different products for their quality in the market.

3)      Knows the availability of different food products as per different seasons.

4)      Knows how to prepare the food items, plate, and serve them, so that food can be consumed by the guest.

5)      Have the sound knowledge of food costing in order to achieve higher profits.

6)      We should know which food items are compatible with each order for the effective service of food.

7)      We should possess and knowledge of the yield of different food products.  


Factors Affecting Menu Planning

1) Availability of raw materials

2) Skill level of staff (more the skill, more variety available)

3) Climate or geographic locations.

4) Regional influence (Punjabi, Bengali & Gujrati)

5) Balancing of Menu. (Nutritional)

6) Budget available. (Main factor)

7) Demand (special requirement)

8) Available equipment

9) Type and size of establishment. (Pub, school & hospital, etc.)

10) Time of the day. (B/fast, lunch or special function)

11) Time of the year

12) Pricing of the menu. (Main factor)

13) Leftover in hand

14) Storage facility (food group-perishable, nonperishable, etc.)

15) Location

16) Clientele

17) Type of service (Different service, different food-ala-carte, Table d’hote, buffet & plated)

18) The policy of the establishment (beef, pork, etc.)

19) Use menu language that customers understand.

20) No unnecessary repetition of ingredients from dish to dish.

21) Special days (Christmas, New Year, etc.)

22) Profit margins.

23) A number of courses.

24) A sequence of course.

25) No unnecessary repetitions of color and flavors.

25) Be aware of the trade description act 1988.

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