Track and manage your food costs

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Food Costing Software

When you're just starting out with a homemade food business, it's easy enough to do the math in your head or on a piece of paper. You might only be making a few sales a week, so recipe costing is just a matter of doing a little addition and subtraction and making sure you're not selling at a loss.

As your business scales, food costing software isn't just helpful, it's critical to your long-term success. Without food cost software you might be pulling in a thousand dollars a week, but spending nine hundred, and that's not going to justify the time it takes you to make, market, pack, sell, and ship your product.

You can think of food and beverage cost control software as an automated accountant. Maybe someday you'll have a whole team of analysts and advisors to help you improve your profit margins and bring production costs down. For now, an app like Food Cost Profiler or iPro Food Cost Software can help you to operate more efficiently so that your business can flourish and grow.

The dream is to turn your homemade foods into a thriving business. But to achieve that dream, you need a plan. That's where bakery recipe costing software and menu planning and costing software come into play.

Free Recipe Costing Spreadsheet

A simple way to get started is by laying out a food costing spreadsheet in Excel. You can download a free recipe costing spreadsheet, or make one yourself, if you're handy with the program.

The specifics of your food costing sheet will be determined by the specifics of your business: what you're selling, your expenses, and so on. But the basic factors will always be the same. You're just adding up the costs in one column, and then subtracting that from the sale price in the next. This will tell you what your profit margins look like.

A common mistake when people make a food costing template is to overlook certain expenses. If you're making frozen pizzas, for instance, maybe you've included all the ingredients and the cost of packaging. But what about the electricity you're using to operate the hand-mixers and packaging equipment? Has your water bill been a little higher since you started using several extra gallons a day to make the dough?

These are costs that may seem marginal at first, but as your business scales, it's going to add up very quickly. You want to make sure to add every single expense to your food cost inventory spreadsheet so that it will tip you off to anything cutting into your profits.

In some instances, these costs may even make your business unfeasible at the current prices. A spreadsheet then is a simple recipe costing tool that lets you know exactly what you're getting out of every penny you spend.

For a small business, the list of expenses in your food cost spreadsheet Google docs may be short. For a restaurant, you'll need a more elaborate restaurant food cost database that covers your commercial lease, employee wages and so on. But whatever you do, you need to make sure that the daily food cost report format in Excel includes every single expense, no matter how small, because it all scales as your company grows.

Food Costing Software Canada

In some ways, the recipe costing software UK businesses use is the same as the recipe costing software Australia uses. The fundamental idea is the same: add up your expenses per sale, subtract those expenses from the sale price, and that's what your food cost is.

But, there are a lot of differences between the industries and economies from one country to the next. So food costing software Canadian businesses use will differ in some ways from food costing software India based businesses use.

Fortunately, most of the spreadsheets and apps you'll find can be adjusted on the fly to the unique needs of any business in any country. So a recipe cost calculator South African restaurants use will function as a recipe cost calculator UK businesses can use. You'll mostly need to adjust currency and language, and then make whatever tweaks you need to make for that free recipe cost calculator UK cafes use to work as a menu coster Australia-based diners can use.

Food Costing App

Spreadsheets can help you to figure out your income and expenses when running a homemade food business, but a food costing app will do a lot of the elbow-work for you. Here are some of the most popular food costing apps and what you need to know about them:

  • MasterCook. Perhaps the most comprehensive and easy-to-use food cost app available today. The downside: It's not free. But, at twenty bucks, it's not a bad deal.
  • Fillet for Chefs. Available for Apple devices, Fillet is a free recipe costing app that automates much of the inventorying and ordering. A must for iPhone/iPad users.
  • Food Cost Calculator. For Android users, Food Cost Calculator is a handy tool for smaller businesses. Unfortunately, some of its better features are locked behind a paywall. But if you're just starting out, the app will get the job done.

Food Cost Calculator Free

For some people in the food industry, a food costing calculator is just a regular calculator and a legal pad for making notes. If you're able to stay organized with such simple tools, great. The important thing is simply that you account for every expense in determining total food cost. If you can do that with a notepad, or if you need a recipe cost calculator app, the results are what count.

If you prefer to learn how to calculate food cost for a recipe on a legal pad rather than using a food cost calculator app, just make sure that you are comprehensive about it. Double-check your figures, because one overlooked expense can sink a new business. Even if you're doing it by hand, printing out a recipe cost calculator template can help you to stay on track.

If you'd rather use recipe cost calculator software, all you need to do is Google "food cost calculator free" to find a calculator that won't bump your costs. If you want a good recipe cost calculator, free options include Ajinomoto, while a great free recipe cost calculator for baking would be the spreadsheet offered by Avalon Cake School.

If you're looking for an ingredient cost calculator, free options cover everything from phone apps and desktop software to simple spreadsheets and even browser-based solutions.

There's really no "best" approach to calculating food costs. It comes down to whatever works for you. Whether that means a pocket calculator and a legal pad, an app you can download to your iPhone, or an Excel spreadsheet. As long as you're adding up all of your costs and making sure that your profit margin is big enough to justify the time and effort you're putting into your business, it doesn't matter if you figured it out on paper or on your tablet.

Food Costing Formula

No two businesses will use the exact same food costing formula. We all have different expenses and we all sell different products. But there are basic principles that serve as a guideline for pretty much everyone who works in the food industry.

To calculate our expenses, let's start with inventory cost.

  • Inventory Cost. Simple enough, this is what the ingredients are costing you. That includes seasoning. You can price ingredients by weight. To take cinnamon cookies, for instance, you can take the weight of a full container of cinnamon in grams, then subtract what's left after making a dozen cookies, divide that by twelve, and that's how many grams you're using per cookie. Divide the price of a full container in pennies by weight in grams, and that's what each gram costs. Now you know what you're spending on cinnamon per cookie, and you can do that for each ingredient.
  • Overhead. Calculating the cost of electricity and water and so on can be tricky. You can't know exactly how much power you're using to mix a single batch of cookies, but you can calculate your average utility totals over the last twelve months vs. what your utilities look like now, subtract the former from the latter, divide that by sales, and you'll have a rough average. You'll want to do this with all of your expenses like cleaning supplies, packaging, any money you're putting towards marketing and so on.

Finally, you're going to add up your costs, subtract them from your total income, and that's your profit margin. You will also want to mark down how many hours you're spending running your business, and that includes time spent prepping and cooking as well as time spent writing emails and talking on the phone to suppliers and so on. You can divide your profits by your hours, and this will let you know if you're being well-compensated for your time and effort.

If this is all sounding pretty complicated... it can be. If you have a knack for math, coming up with a food cost formula is easy enough, but for the rest of us, that's why menu costing apps and spreadsheets can be so helpful. You're still going to have some numbers to crunch, but having the right tools at your disposal can make the whole process a bit less of a headache.

Additional Resources

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