Dole Packaged Foods

Grilled lamb chops with blackberry chipotle sauce, featuring DOLE Chef-Ready Blackberry Frozen Purée.

How Restaurants Can Save Money on Inventory Costs While Building Menu Diversity

How restaurants can boost productivity while reducing expenses.

In an increasingly complex foodservice environment with industry-wide increases in labor costs, expenses, and employee turnover rates, it has become vital for restaurants to find ways to operate more efficiently and save money. That’s why many brands are looking for ways to get more done without increasing expenses.

One effective strategy is to use ingredients that can be used across the menu for multiple dishes and dayparts. “Using ingredients across multiple applications creates efficiency in every department of your operation,” says James Bickmore-Hutt, culinary R&D manager and corporate chef for Dole Packaged Foods. “From simplifying and streamlining purchasing to minimizing clutter in your storage, this strategy helps with product utilization and thus prevents risk of spoilage. With cross utilization of product, you not only save money on product efficiency, but also you show your culinary staff that there are intelligent ways to build a menu to maximize flavor and profit.”

In fact, the more products that a restaurant can use in several places across the menu, the more efficient the operations. Not only are there cost benefits to ordering a single ingredient in bulk instead of multiple SKUs in terms of reducing food waste and lower shipping costs, but it can also reduce training time for new employees, who have fewer ingredients to learn how to use. Bickmore-Hutt says that this also reduces the risk of the wrong ingredient being used for the wrong dish, resulting in more consistent quality and happier guests.

This strategy is only as effective of the quality of the ingredients being used, however, so it’s important for brands to choose high-quality products that have potential in everything from appetizers and entrees to desserts and cocktails. Additionally, it’s important that the quality of these products holds up to brand values since they will influence so many dishes.

“The measure of a truly valuable and functional ingredient is one that can not only be the star ingredient on a plate, but also a fantastic foundational layer of flavor. DOLE Chef-Ready Frozen Fruit Purees truly excel at this,” Bickmore-Hutt says. “You could create a Peach Gin Fizz behind the bar, a Peach and Bourbon glaze for a chicken breast that finds its way to a delicious club sandwich, or a simple and delicious glazing for cheesecake with peach puree and piped lemon curd whipped cream on top to create the flavors of Sicily in a dessert. A puree can be truly flexible in application when it starts with unparalleled flavor and cost efficiency like the DOLE Chef-Ready Frozen Fruit Purees do.”

DOLE Chef-Ready Frozen Fruit Purees also provide a strong base that can be used to add bold flavor in both sweet and savory dishes because they contain no added sugar. This not only allows brands to truly customize dishes, but also serves as a healthier alternative to sweeteners.

“As many chefs and bartenders know, one of the hardest flavor profiles to pull back on is overly-sweet,” Bickmore-Hutt says. “Because DOLE provides you with a no-sugar added puree, we allow you to truly customize the flavor profile for each application. From Spicy Mango cocktails to tart Blackberry Vinaigrettes or aromatic and addictive glazes for proteins, the applications are only limited by your imagination for application.”

Because fruit has shown growth on menus in all segments of the foodservice industry and because of its use in every type of cuisine across the globe, fruit purees can be used in virtually any restaurant concept, regardless of style. Additionally, because most consumers are so familiar with fruit, like peach or mango, it can provide a comforting element that attracts diners to more creative dishes that they might otherwise be afraid to try, Bickmore-Hutt says.

“In an industry that is always at the mercy of the opinions of others, we are always being pushed to find the next solution that achieves a positive reaction,” he says. “Food and menu items don’t need to be difficult to create to be desirable or marketable. There is diverse yet simple cuisine emerging and becoming more popular every day in the U.S., allow DOLE to help you find the right menu-worthy solution for you.”