Food Cost Control: Tracking Expenses

It is not possible to control food costs if the manager does not know where the money is going. It is also not possible to make good decisions if the manager does not know how the money is being spent.

For example, perhaps food costs are increasing because of a new employee meal program. If a fee is charged, then the revenue is also increasing. If only expenses are reviewed, and not the revenue, an accurate picture cannot be obtained.

Perhaps food costs are increasing because of an increase in supplements. Why is there an increase in supplements? Are more acute residents who truly need supplements being admitted? If so, perhaps the food budget needs to be adjusted. Or are residents not getting the assistance they need at meal time and so more supplements are given?

Is there an increase in marketing events, special activities for employees, more resident activities requiring food? If so, evaluate whether these areas are the best use of a limited resource—the food dollar.

Maybe there has been a large increase in the number of residents on thickened liquids. If these residents require thickened liquids, there may need to be an adjustment in the food budget to allow for this.

If the dietary manager is tracking where money is being spent, and there does not seem to be any increases in any non-resident meal areas, then it may be the meals. If the menu has not changed, then it is likely that the increased expenditures are related to waste, theft, or increased food costs from the supplier. The manager can then further investigate these areas to determine the root cause of the increase in food costs.

Susan L. Farrell, MBA, RD, CD