Things You Should Know Before Your Restaurant Menu Nutrition Analysis
Thinking about getting a restaurant menu nutrition analysis? A.K.A. The thing that needs to get done so you can place nutrition and calorie information on your menu? Have you noticed an increase in customers asking about the nutrient components of your menu items?
“Does this have gluten? Is this keto-friendly? Do you have anything vegan? My doc wants me to watch my cholesterol, what’s low-fat on your menu?”
Likely, you’ve stumbled across this article because you’re hearing this on a regular basis. What you may not know is that nutrition and cuisine information that is not listed on your menu can actually inhibit your server’s ability to turn their tables efficiently. Yes, seriously. While we provide a nutrition analysis solution for restaurant menus, our platform itself is founded in data. And that data ebbs and flows similarly to how the traffic in your dining room does. When data can provide solutions, traffic flows easily. But when there are no answers, servers crash into each other — one way or another. (Just a little tech humor. We’re nerds like that.)
Well anyway, before you can get a restaurant menu nutrition analysis, it’s important to know a few things about your menu: specifically your ingredients.
Getting started with your nutrition analysis
Know Your Ingredient Details
The ingredients in your kitchen lay the entire foundation for your menu. They also provide all of the granular nutrition data that you will need to begin answering your customer’s nutrition questions about the types of meal options you offer. That’s why it’s important to know your ingredient details — or at least where you can get them from.
A lot of this information can be derived from your recipe logs created by you or your head chef in combination with your inventory list from your distributor. Each ingredient, especially processed ones, has a brand or other specifics attached to them. These are the important details that you should know when providing your recipes to LabelCalc or any other platform/consulting group. Click the link to download a document that will help you better understand the ingredient specifics that your nutrition analysis platform or consultant will be requiring.
A few examples are:
If you are using vegetable oil, what kind? (sunflower, safflower, corn oil, etc)
If you are using beef in a recipe, what cut is it? Has the fat been trimmed or included?
If your recipe calls for flour, is it bleached or unbleached? Is it sourced from wheat or almond?
Many times when a recipe is created, it’s easy to gloss over what ingredient types are being used. For your restaurant menu nutrition analysis to be accurate, these details are crucial.
Serving Size, Portion Size, and Other Measurements
The next part of understanding your ingredient details is their measurements. Believe it or not, we’ve seen many menu recipes come through with only the ingredients listed without measurement information, especially when working with independent restaurants that may have only one or a few locations. When a menu item isn’t under the scrutiny of a branded flavor ( like a McDonald’s cheeseburger that has to stay the same across thousands of locations) chefs have the freedom to cook “to taste” and may not have the actual recipe measurements available.
However, when have decided you would like a restaurant menu nutrition analysis, the measurements are the second most important part! When utilizing ingredient databases combined with a nutrition calculator, like the LabelCalc platform, the nutrition information can’t be accurately calculated unless the measurements of each ingredient have been stipulated. A “dash” of salt (or anything for that matter) must be quantified, meaning it must have a measurement attached to it. So whether you prefer household measurements such as tsp, tbsp, cup, etc, or metric measurements such as ounces and grams, it’s important to know how much of your ingredients are going into each recipe for accurate calculation.
While using a platform like MenuCalc can make a nutrition analysis for your restaurant menu simple and easy, it does have a few limits. If any of your ingredients are fried, they must go through a lab analysis. Using the tools provided from the nutrition calculator and ingredient database just doesn’t cut it when it comes to understanding how much oil is absorbed in a fried item upon preparation. We do, however, have a lab analysis partner that can assist with fried ingredients at a fraction of the cost when you go to them as a MenuCalc client.
So there you have it. Just a few things you need to know in order to be ready for your restaurant menu nutrition analysis. So that being said, are you ready for the next step? If so, contact us! We’re ready for you!