11 Ways to Reduce Kitchen Labor Costs
Labor-saving recipes, ready-made ingredients, and time-tested techniques that save time and money.
When faced with labor shortages or staff reductions, restaurant owners and managers seek out new ways to reduce kitchen labor costs. One effective solution is to implement labor-saving recipes—no robots needed.
11 Labor-Saving Ideas for Restaurant Kitchens
- Soup – Promote a soup of the day and keep it hot and ready for lunch and dinner guests. Consider repeating favorite recipes weekly, such as broccoli cheese or chicken and rice.
- Deli Salads – Mixing up batches of chicken salad, tuna salad, egg salad, and pimento cheese makes it easy to create sandwiches and salads in a flash.
- Slow-Cooked Meats – Slow-cooked pork, beef roast, short ribs, and turkey can be prepped the night before and used in countless recipes spanning from appetizer nachos to stackable sandwiches and high-end meat and potato offerings.
- Lasagna and Mac-n-Cheese – Heat-and-serve lasagna or mac-n-cheese can be served as is or transformed into new and interesting dishes.
- Chili – A summertime favorite atop beefy hot dogs and chips, or a cool-weather warm-up during the fall and winter, chili is a favorite make-ahead, labor-saving recipe.
- Beans – Versatile enough to be served with breakfast, lunch, or dinner, beans are a great protein-packed, meatless option to have on the menu.
- Cheese Sauce – Comfort food is always popular, so it pays to have a pot of cheese sauce at the ready for topping hash browns, omelets, nachos, tater tots, baked potatoes, chili, French fries, meatloaf, and more.
- Frozen Dough – If you offer cookies, pie, bread, croissants, pizza, flatbreads etc, seek out suppliers who offer frozen dough that can save you kitchen prep time.
- Casseroles – Casseroles are often a regional offering (popular in southern restaurants), but as consumers turn to more comfort foods, casseroles fit the bill. Think panko-topped mac-and-cheese, vegetarian enchiladas, potatoes au gratin, sausage and rice, and baked French toast.
- Beverage Mixes and Concentrates – Running low on time to squeeze oranges and lemons? Look for high-quality foodservice orange juice and lemonade concentrates that satisfy breakfast and lunch beverage needs.
- Frozen Fruits and Vegetables – Buy pre-cut, flash-frozen fruits and vegetables to save prep time in the kitchen.
More Kitchen Labor Savers
- Order bread from a local vendor or reputable supplier rather than making it by hand
- Sous vide proteins, sauces, soups, and more for future services
- Cross-promote—a local bakery sells your deli salads, and you sell the bakery’s desserts
- Make a list of the menu items that take the most time to prepare, eliminating the slow movers
- Prepare sauces and dressings in large batches to reduce waste and save time
- Organize prep areas so that the kitchen flows logically from prepping to cooking to serving
Sit down with your kitchen manager and staff to assess which labor-saving recipes and techniques make the most sense for your business. Start small, and watch the savings grow.
The information provided is based on a general industry overview and is not specific to your business operation. Each business is unique, and decisions related to your business should be made after consultation with appropriate experts.