What are the Main Factors to Consider While Planning a Menu?

Many factors play a vital role when planning a menu. Some of them are:

(1) The type of menu is an important factor that determines menu planning. Menu planning can be both meaningful only when it is

confirmed beforehand whether the menu being planned is table d ‘hote or a ‘la carte.

(2) The kind of meal and the nature of a function also pay a crucial role in defining and determining a menu.

(3) Menu planning must consider the type of customers that would affect the type of food served. Menu planners have to ascertain whether customers concerned are yound, old, infirm, athletic and so on.

(4) The capability of the kitchen staff and the type of kitchen also play an important part in menu compilation as this would depend on the equipment available. Methods of cooking should vary and suit the best possible use of equipment and staff available.

(5) Style of presentation and garnish of dishes depend on a waiter’s ability to prevent and serve the same. This in turn affects the standard of the establishment. The type of equipment and décor are also considered.Coloured or patterned china may affect the appearance of certain foods. Sizes of serving dishes are important when garnishes are elaborate as they control the portion and consequently the cost. The amount of china and silver must suffice for the menu offered.

(6) Foods should be chosen to conform to stipulated prices. Expensive items do not feature on low priced menus and vice versa. Food costs are generally maintained below 40 % of the selling price.

(7) Season is important when menus are compiled in advance as climatic conditions can affect the suitability of certain dishes. Moreover seasonal availability affects prices and quality.

(8) Supplies: Maximum use should be made of foods in season. But frozen or processed foods are also used extensively. Foods in store should be used before ordering fresh supplies as far as possible. Commodities with a rapid turnover should be easily obtained and some items may be easily recycled. Dishes that are not available should not be recommended. Besides special requests should be catered to as far as possible.

(9) Balance: A proper balance should be struck between various features of a menu. Basic ingredients should not be repeated. The following points must be considered to effect a fine balance in any menu:

a. Avoid repeating words when writing the menu.

b. Colours should not be repeated.

c. Menus should start with light dishes, progress to more substantial items and finish with a light course.

d. Texture should be different.

e. Sauces should vary.

f. Garnishes using traditional names must be correct.

g. Ingredients must be maintained or balanced specially on table d’ hote menus.

h. Nutritional requirements of persons engaged in light or heavy work must be considered.

i. Colour is the most important factor considered in presentation of food.Artifical colours, if used must be in moderation. Colourful garnishes improve the appearance of drab looking food.

j. Wordings are of utmost importance in the preparation of a menu. Certain points to be considered while writing a menu include:

  1. Language must be easily understood.
  2. French menus must be accompanied with English translations.
  3. Only one language should be used. An exception can be made here as regards national dishes, which cannot be translated and usually appear in the language of their origin.
  4. French wordings must have correct spelling and accents.
  5. The use of capital letters should be systematic. These are used generally for the first word in the term and for proper nouns.
  6. Words used to describe dishes should agree in number and gender.
  7. Dished named after persons or places follow the food.