This is a follow-up to a series of articles I've been posting on controlling food costs in your restaurant. The focus and time required to manage cost can seem daunting, so this week I just wanted to list a few key areas you can start with and can grow from there. Next week we will be talking about recipe costing.The Kitchen:- Reward staff when food costs are met- Implement a meal plan, which allows your staff to eat at discounted prices to keep them from sneaking food here and there.- Use spatulas to scrape every drop out of bowls and cans.- Include portioning in your advanced prep instructions. Busy cooks may not have time to portion properly during a rush.- Keep your knives sharp.- Use the correct size of dish for each menu item to avoid the temptation to over-portion in order to make the plate look full.- Inspect your garbage cans for food waste. If waste seems excessive, spend time training your staff to reduce the amount of food thrown away.Planning Your Menu & Specials:- Plan your specials to use ingredients you purchased on discount or items you would like to move out of your inventory.- Use trim items from meal preparation to make soup or appetizers.- When creating your plates, assign larger portions to items that have lower food cost and keep high-priced items to more manageable sizes.- Use ingredients in several dishes so you can order in bulk. But beware of overstocking, as this may result in spoilage.- Is your dishwasher throwing a lot of food away? If so, consider reducing your portions.Ordering Food:- When possible, buy fresh produce locally, direct from the grower.- Stock enough supplies to avoid trips to the local discount or grocery store.- Regularly schedule requests for quotes from both your current suppliers and new suppliers. Always get at least 3 quotes.