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Lesson 3.2: Managing Food and Beverage Production

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    • Planning and Analyzing Production
    • Production Schedules
    • Batch Cooking
    • Ingredient Assembly
    • Managing carryovers
    • Reducing Actual Food & Beverage Cost (dollars)
    • Portion Control (overserving)
    • Overcooking (shrinkage)
    • Waste
    • Yield
    • Shelf-life
    • Incorrect Production Quantity

    Learning Objectives:

    • Describe management tools to use in planning and analyzing production
    • Explain how production decisions—including planning, forecasting and production, and quality demand—affect cost objectives of an operation
    • Describe how and why to use a food production record
    • Explain the importance of carefully managing carryover
    • Recognize the overlap of managing production with forecasting, procurement and inventory functions
    • Explain key factors of control in the food production process, such as portion control, overcooking, and waste.

    Key Terms

    • Production schedule
    • Forecasting
    • Activity analysis
    • Batch cooking
    • Carryover
    • Portion control
    • Overcooking
    • Waste

    Planning and Analyzing Production

    Production planning basically means taking the resources of your foodservice operation and turning out products and services. There are many decisions to be made and this requires a manager who can handle planning, organizing, and controlling the various aspects of production. Balancing quantity, quality, and cost objectives usually involves several layers of management and must also include consideration of the customer’s needs and wants.

    While most foodservice professionals recognize the importance of controlling the use of ingredients, the key area of pre-production is sometimes overlooked. Pre-production or production planning includes all food handling activities completed prior to production or heating, such as thawing, pre-processing, and preliminary assembly, sometimes called “pre-prep.” Controlling the amount of ingredients processed and using correct food handling techniques during this step can be critical. For example, if you thaw too many fish fillets and don’t cook them that day, they will have substandard quality when finally cooked. When fresh vegetables are not handled carefully during pre-processing, they may spoil more quickly and suffer larger nutrient losses. If fresh vegetables and fruits are not carefully prepped the expected yield may also be lower, which can lead to a shortage of product and increased costs. Excessive waste can occur from poor handling and overproduction, and that raises food costs.

    An earlier chapter in this book discussed the importance of forecasting and described forecasting tools. The more choices offered on a menu, the more difficult it is to forecast, but sales history records and management experience, along with a computerized forecasting system set up for the specific foodservice operation can make this critical task more manageable.

    The production schedule is a major tool for the foodservice manager in controlling quantity food production and labor. The type of information that needs to be included in a production schedule will depend on the operation, but it is basically a list of menu items with the foodservice staff and equipment assigned to each item, along with the time of day assigned for producing the menu item. Table 11.1 is a simplified example of a production schedule. Meeting with production employees to review the production schedule, which may often be done for a week at a time, offers employees a chance to have input into the schedule. Employees may have suggestions to improve productivity and further control costs.

    Table 11.1 Production Schedules






    Chicken Soup (30 svg)

    Sal/Grill (chicken)

    Sal/Steam-jacketed kettle

    Sal/on service line

    Sal/Serve Soup & Pizza

    Sal/Clean soup

    Mushroom Pizza(24 svg)

    Sal/St. 1 prep mush.

    Sal/Oven Bake pizza

    Sal/ clean pizza

    Baked Salmon(72 svg)

    Ken/St. 2



    Convect Oven





    Clean BOH

    Barley Pilaf (72 svg)


    St. 3



    Pilaf on service line

    Grilled Vegetables(72 svg)

    Sue/St. 3

    Prep Veg


    Grill Veg






    Italian Grinder(24 svg)



    Cold hold


    Bob/St. 4

    Prep veg for sandwich


    up deli





    Clean Deli/Grill

    Quesadilla(36 svg)


    St. 5


    Joo/Set up Action St


    Action Station


    Clean Action St.

    Spanish Rice(36 svg)



    Rice to thermodyne

    Chopped Salad(see SOPs)


    St 6


    Jan/Set up Salad



    Chopped Salad


    Clean Salad

    Table 11.1 Production Schedules. The table shows the prep time and cook time for different meals.

    If total control of a production system could be obtained by using only standardized recipes, a manager’s job would be fairly easy. Unfortunately, we must also decide how to schedule equipment and employees so all of the necessary daily tasks are accomplished. Employees and equipment are important resources that need to be managed. For example, given a menu that includes baked potatoes, the manager must assign at least one employee to complete each step of the preparation of the potatoes. Someone must wash the potatoes, place them in the oven, check for doneness, remove them from the oven, and place them in a warmer or transport them to the serving line. The manager may assign one or more employees to complete these tasks. If the manager assigns both head cooks on duty to complete these activities, (s)he is using a limited resource both in skill and number when (s)he could have assigned a foodservice worker who is less skilled and generally more available. The example in Table 11.1 illustrates resource allocation: the assignment of limited resources to the activities necessary to achieve operational goals. This assignment of resources may be accomplished randomly—as in the example—or purposefully, which usually results in better use of resources. The final result of resource allocation is a production schedule that can be highly useful for managers. In a foodservice system, resource allocation can be accomplished by completing the following steps:

    1. Use well-written, standardized recipes.
    2. Review job descriptions for all positions.
    3. List production tasks to be completed; identify type of resource required.
    4. Determine the time necessary to complete each task.
    5. Assign tasks to personnel and equipment using a production schedule.
    1. Use well-written, standardized recipes. As you learned in an earlier chapter, standardized recipes with carefully written instructions/procedures help identify the tasks to be completed and the length of time necessary to complete the task. For example, if you are making an apple cake, unpared apples will require more time to prepare than canned sliced apples. If a recipe states, “cream sugar and butter for five minutes,” you know exactly how long the employee and mixer are required. When the recipe states, “cream sugar and butter until fluffy,” the exact length of time required to complete the task is unknown and you will have to time the creaming process to determine the time required for that activity. Identification of the specific piece of equipment to be assigned also helps. If the recipe lists, “potatoes, sliced,” but doesn’t say the vegetable chopper is to be used, the employee may decide to perform the slicing by hand. This change in task time will cause an alteration in the planned production schedule. More detail on recipe standardization and adjustment processes is covered in a previous chapter in this book.
    2. Review job descriptions for all positions. Job descriptions list the types of tasks that can be assigned to a particular job position. In some operations, cooks are the only employees who may combine ingredients in the preparation of entrees. Foodservice workers may gather ingredients and complete mise en place but are not allowed to use main production equipment.
    3. List production tasks to be completed and identify the type of resource required. Production tasks can be listed for each meal using the information acquired in steps 1 and 2. The standardized recipes will supply information on the tasks required. The type of activity, like gathering ingredients or portioning, will indicate the type of employee to be assigned. The type of equipment required will be indicated on the recipe.
    4. Determine the time necessary to complete each task. The duration of some tasks, such as baking, roasting, or mixing time, may be given in the recipe. However, the length of time required for pre-preparation activities—scraping carrots, shaping meatloaves, and portioning pies—is not usually stated on recipes. These times can be determined either by completing a time study or activity analysis. In a time study, a foodservice manager watches the activity on several (2 to 3) occasions and obtains an average time for the activity.

    In an executive approach to activity analysis, a committee of two or three employees, such as cooks and supervisors or managers, determines the time required for specific activities based on their experience. Standard times can be set for routine activities, like transporting the finished product to the service area, cleaning steam kettles, and obtaining ingredients from the specific storage areas. A later chapter in this book will discuss labor productivity, which is another consideration for analyzing the effective use of labor hours in producing meals and serving guests.

    An example of using the executive approach to activity analysis in the production area of foodservice is to apply it to a standardized recipe. By adding space for times in the procedure area of the recipe, you will create a very helpful tool, useful when planning production schedules or making a purchasing decision of whether to make or buy a specific product or menu item. This information will also be valuable when it comes to other labor issues such as staffing and productivity cover in a later chapter in this book. Table 11.2 is an example of an activity analysis for a recipe, which could be used for planning a production schedule.

    Recipe with an activity analysis

    Baked Macaroni & Cheese

    Table 11.2 An Activity Analysis Example for a Recipe
    Portions: 50
    Yield: 25 lbs.
    Portion size: 8 oz.
    Prep time: 50 min.
    Baking time: 35 min.

    Table 11.2 An Activity Analysis Example for a Recipe. The table shows an example of an activity analysis for a recipe that shows general cooking information about the dish including, portions produced, yield amount, portion size, prep time, and bake time.

    Table 11.3 Utensils and Tools Needed For Baked Macaroni and Cheese
    Mise en Place: 8 qt saucepan, 1 qt. saucepan, 2” perforated hotel pan, 2-4” full hotel pans, 2-4” half pans, 2-6” 1/6 pans, 2 qt. plastic container, Measuring utensils: T., liquid gallon, scale, table knife, long-handled wire whisk, long-handled rubber spatula
    Table 11.3 Utensils and Tools Needed For Baked Macaroni and Cheese.
    Table 11.4 Ingredients Needed for Baked Macaroni and Cheese
    Ingredients Amount Unit

    Elbow Macaroni, uncooked

    3 1/2



    8 oz
    A.P. Flour 8 oz
    Salt, kosher 1 T
    Milk, skin 1 gal
    Cheddar cheese, grated 1 1/2 lbs
    American cheese, grated 1 1/2 lbs
    Paprika 1 T
    Worcestershire sauce 2 T
    Mustard, dry 1 T
    Bread crumbs, panko 12 oz
    Margarine, melted 4 oz

    Table 11.4 Ingredients Needed for Baked Macaroni and Cheese. The table displays how much of an ingredient is included. The ingredients listed are sectioned so that they coincide with the steps featured in the next table to the right.

    Table 11.5 Recipe Instructions for Making Baked Macaroni and Cheese
    Procedures Time Required
    1. Cook macaroni until tender. (While macaroni is cooking, prepare white sauce and bread topping.)
    2. Drain macaroni.
    3. Pour macaroni into two full hotel pans.
    30 min.(step 1)

    10 min.(step 2)

    2 min.(step 3)

    4. Prepare white sauce. Melt margarine in 8 qt. sauce pan, whisk in flour and cook roux until lightly browned. Add salt and skim milk. Bring to light boil, then simmer until thickened (to coat back of spoon) (15 of 30 min. above)
    5. Add cheeses, paprika, Worchestershire sauce and dry mustard to white sauce. Stir until smooth.
    6. Pour sauce over macaroni. Mix well.
    (10 of 30 min. above)

    6 min.

    7. Combine bread crumbs and melted margarine. (5 of 30 min. above)
    8. Sprinkle crumbs over macaroni and cheese mixture. 2 min.
    9. Bake in 350 F convection oven for 35 minutes. 35 min.

    Table 11.5 Recipe Instructions. The table displays the steps to make baked macaroni and cheese. The steps coincide with the ingredients, and ingredient amount featured before in the table to the left. The first three steps are intended for the elbow macaroni ingredient. The fourth step refers to the margarine, flour, salt, and milk. The fifth and sixth step instructions refer to the american and cheddar cheese ingredients, the paprika, Worcestershire sauce, and the mustard. Finally, the last three steps refer to the melted margarine and panko bread crumb ingredients.

    5. Assign tasks to personnel and equipment using a production schedule. Now you have the information necessary to complete an accurate daily production schedule. To begin, set desired completion times or the times the food items must be sent to the serving or expediting line or distributed to other areas. These become the most important times in the day. We know food quality deteriorates as food is held; therefore, we begin with the latest time we need to complete the activities in order to ensure the highest possible food quality. We then work backward from this deadline. For the macaroni and cheese example in Table 11.5, if serving time starts at 11 am, the first pan should be on the line by 10:50 am for the quality assurance check, so the recipe would need to be started by 9:25 am. You will have to make decisions as to which product has priority if two items require the same resource. For example, if a chicken and rice casserole and roast beef both should be cooked in the convection oven and there is not enough shelf space, which one should be cooked first?

    Table 11.1 is an example of the completed production schedule that will be beneficial for employees and management. As you can see, the production schedule is based on serving time for lunch in a cafeteria, and production times are scheduled backward from these times. Note that a schedule with 15-minute time slots might be preferred to the example that has 30-minute time slots. As you assign the times for production, you can decide who will be assigned to prepare the food and what equipment will be used. In addition, you can also identify equipment conflicts, employee overloading, or excessive employee free time.

    Advantages of a Production Schedule

    A well-planned production schedule helps a manager avoid crisis management. If problems can be anticipated, alternative methods can be implemented. For example, using the production schedule shown, if the manager surveys the production area at 9:30 am and finds that the vegetables for 11:00 am service have been cooked already, (s)he knows that they will not be a quality product. The manager can also check to make sure that all production is running on time and intervene with additional help or troubleshooting if a menu item is running behind. The production schedule will also identify those time periods when employees are not required to be working. This may occur either because there is nothing for the employees to do or because they are waiting for a piece of equipment. The schedule can show times when pre-preparation can be completed for the next day and how well equipment and employees are utilized. An entire week’s production schedule will answer the questions: Do some menus require more oven space than is available, and on other days the menus require no ovens? How often is the mixer utilized? Is the tilt kettle overbooked, and so on?

    Batch Cooking

    Ingredient Assembly

    Many large foodservice operations use centralized ingredient assembly, such as an ingredient room, to better control ingredient access and particularly to control food and labor costs. When an ingredient room is used, the issuing system is simplified as all ingredients go from the storeroom directly to the ingredient room based on the recipes to be prepped for a given period of time. A modification of this concept can even be used in small operations where one person is responsible for setting up the ingredients (mise en place), perhaps on carts, for each of the other employees. This can be utilized in a variety of ways and may be a significant time-saver if properly organized in many types of foodservice operations.

    Managing Carryover

    Carryover is another word for leftovers or overproduction, though unintentional. Effective foodservice operations want to minimize overproduction and carryovers as much as possible, but since forecasting is not perfect, and underproduction can also be costly, especially in terms of customer satisfaction, carryovers are a fact of life for the foodservice manager. If a menu has been planned with careful consideration for cross-utilization, this can help minimize the waste (and cost) of carryovers. Some carryovers, as long as they are handled with strict food safety protocols, can be reheated and served at another meal. Batch cooking can also help with carryover management. If full menu items or even parts of recipes are pre-prepped, but not cooked, they are typically much easier to re-use at a later time. Additional ways to use leftovers may be staff meals or donating to a soup kitchen. However, the best managers know the key to managing carryovers is to work toward making sure all food products purchased are sold and generate revenue for the operation.

    Reducing Food and Beverage Costs with Effective Management

    A number of effective management practices to reduce and control food and beverage production costs have already been introduced in this and previous chapters, but a review seems appropriate here.

    Portion Control

    Standardized recipes and/or standard serving procedures list planned portion sizes. It’s important for servers to follow these recipes and procedures and use proper portion control tools when serving customers. This standardization helps meet customer expectations with every purchase. Portion control also assures that the recipe will yield the planned portions and that the portion cost established for the recipe stays in the expected range. Since the price of a menu item is based, at least in part, on the cost of that item, it’s critical to serve the proper portion to maintain the item portion cost and food cost percentage. For example, if the macaroni and cheese recipe is supposed to serve 50 people an 8 oz. portion with a $4.00 food cost, but a 10 oz. portion is served instead, the recipe will now only serve 40 people and the cost per portion will increase to $5.00. That’s a $1.00 (25%) increase in food cost on each menu item. This also means instead of bringing in revenue from 50 customers, there is only revenue from 40. Poor portion control can impact both sides of the profit equation by decreasing revenue AND increasing costs per portion!



    There are numerous ways waste can occur in a foodservice operation. Food, labor, and other resources can be wasted, but for now, we will concentrate just on food.

    We learned earlier about the yield of many food products, such as various cuts of meat (the butcher’s yield test), fish, poultry, and fresh fruits and vegetables. The effective foodservice manager monitors yields and investigates variances when the edible portion is not within the expected range. For example, if the beef roast is supposed to yield an 80% edible portion and the cook trims and/or cuts incorrectly so that the edible portion yield is only 75%, that 5% loss is waste and does not generate revenue for the operation. This becomes a training issue for the foodservice manager. Another possibility is that the beef roast has more fat and sinew that had to be trimmed away to provide a great quality product for the customer and consequently had a lower yield. This is a procurement issue and may require a revision of product specifications, better-receiving practices, or a new supplier.

    Another factor to consider under this topic is the shelf life of products, both prior to production and after production. The first intervention to prevent an issue with product spoilage and waste is to implement FIFO, first in, first out for all food inventory as was discussed in an earlier chapter. If a product does approach its “use by” date and the excess raw product has been purchased and cannot be used while fresh, there are situations where the product may be able to be cooked or processed and frozen for later use.

    Incorrect Production Quantity

    Earlier in this chapter overproduction and underproduction were discussed as they relate to the importance of accurate forecasting and production records. Overproduction leads to carryovers, which were discussed previously. Obviously the shelf life of any already cooked product must be considered for both food safety and quality reasons. Remember the practice of “batch cooking” to prevent overproduction of cooked products that may be more difficult to sell and end up as waste. The previous examples in this section are why managing production and carryovers is a critical responsibility of the foodservice manager and the “daily special” menu becomes a significant tool for reducing waste and generating revenue.

    Underproduction can be just as big of an issue as overproduction as it can negatively affect customer service and satisfaction. If a menu item has to be 86’d (removed) from the daily offerings in the operation, customers can become disappointed, frustrated and perhaps unwilling to return. Service recovery, in this case, can cost the operation with both increased costs and decreased revenue.

    A secondary topic that must be raised in this chapter is the issue of employees being allowed to take home leftover food. Though it may seem like a good idea to allow employees to make use of leftover food instead of throwing it out and wasting the food, the problem often becomes one of the planned overproduction. If employees get used to the “reward” of leftover food, they tend to make sure there are regular leftovers by intentionally preparing and cooking more product that will be needed. This is yet another example of both an increased cost and loss of sales for the foodservice operation.

    It all comes down to mistakes

    If we take a look at all of the above ways to save food and beverage costs it becomes clear that many of the problems come down to mistakes by employees. This means one of the best ways to reduce costs and prevent mistakes is employee training along with vigilant and consistent management by the foodservice manager.

    Review Questions

    • What are some of the tools or systems an effective foodservice manager should use to better control food and beverage production?
    • How does forecasting affect production costs?
    • How can a foodservice operation lose money during “pre-production.”
    • What are some of the negative effects of overproduction and underproduction?
    • Why is effectively managing carryover important to controlling costs?
    • How can completing an activity analysis of a recipe assist a foodservice manager in controlling costs?
    • What are some of the key production factors that allow a foodservice manager to control food and beverage costs?

    Review Exercises

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    This page titled Lesson 3.2: Managing Food and Beverage Production is shared under a CC BY 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Beth Egan (Pennsylvania State University) via source content that was edited to the style and standards of the LibreTexts platform; a detailed edit history is available upon request.