Portion control

I’ve been taking a night class in retail recently with a business consultant and he brought up the point that i should be tighter with my portion control on the more expensive ingredients. I’m always very careful about how much i put on but i do it visually and not with a measuring cup. I was curious to know how people portion control their cheese, Would you have different measuring cups for different pizza sizes or would you just fill the cup a few times depending on the pizza size? Also do you count how many slices of salami or pepperoni go onto a pizza?


Mike :slight_smile:

I have a scale at the start of the makeline and every pizza gets the cheese weighed. I ask each employee to count the pepperoni on their first large pepperoni of each day but still need to remind a few when they go too heave or too light.

Cheese is weighed for every pizza.

For us pepperoni is easy; each piece should be almost touching the next one. It is hard to put too much on since they would then be touching.

I agree, cheese is weighed out for every pizza. We also weigh out the bacon, but everything else is pretty much by look. We don’t count out items like pepperoni because even though we are buying 3" slice pep, it varies from 2-3/4" - 3-1/4" and the weight would vary each pizza. We just go edge to edge (on a pep only), some pizzas get 35, some get 38, but the overall weight would be very close.

The caveat is that you have to train your makeline crew to visually put the same amount on. But if you were to weigh out each item, it would take much longer to get your pies out. I guess you could set up a system where you say 1/4 cup of this for that size and 1/2 cup of that, but with all the different toppings and pizza sizes, you may end up with 50 different cups (or amounts to memorize).

We just follow the KISS principle, except on the expensive items (Cheese and Bacon).

Absolutely not true. As a consultant, I see this point come up again and again. Yes, we are all in agreement that throwing a pizza on a scale, hitting tare, looking at the weight is a time consuming process. That doesn’t mean that portion control needs to slow the operation down though.

Cheese cups, for example, speed up the process. The easiest way to make this point is to stand near your make line, watch someone cheesing pizzas, and count how many times they dip into the cheese bin for each pizza they make. One big handful and one little one to hit the spot they missed is pretty universal.

I have weighed cheese since day one and made it a condition of employment. At my last year end I implemented a policy if it can’t be counted it must be weighed. We just finished doing the year end books. The net sales for the year went up by 8% and the food costs went down by 6% even with a 1.5% increase in cheese costs. I am of the opinion it is worth the tiny bit of extra time to weigh the toppings.

Our current process was instituted less to keep costs down, though it’s an obvious “side effect”, but rather I was tired of our pies looking so different depending on which of the guys was on the make line.

EVERY pie is built on the scale. Sauce is figured by X per 12" etc., pepperoni is by count…all the other toppings are by gram weight. Our pizza has never been better than since we started this about 8 months back.

Evidently you didn’t read my whole post. I specifically talk about portion cups further down.

You are saying it is “absolutely not true” that weighing out each item doesn’t take longer (when in fact it does), and then backing up your comment by saying portion control doesn’t need to slow the operation down. These are two different processes…one weighs out each item, and one uses a different, faster method (typically portion cups).

If you are going to tell someone they are “Absolutely not true” at least use valid rules of logic to call them out on it.

I don’t think any conceivable portion of onions could impact my food cost…

Hey hey! More onions!

We do not measure or weigh most toppings. Portioning by eye for most things works fine for us. Cheese is the crucial exception.

It is the “much longer” part that I was talking about, you seem to have missed it in your second post as well. With a makeline scale, it literally does take no extra time to do it.

I use cups for cheese portioning and also for sausage. I don’t measure fresh mozzarella, since we slice it and use the same number of slices crumbled up. So, it’s basically portioned.

I don’t portion other vegetables. I do count shrimp, smoked salmon, other meats, etc.

Sauce us portioned from the ladle size.

I’m more concerned about consistency. I have a high repeat business, so I want the product to match the customers image of it time after time.

We portion sandwich meats for subs, but not other vegetable toppings. I have human employees with cognitive skills who are able to build our foods to look appealing and have well-balanced servings. I simply have to keep tabs and adjust things on the fly we get get a little out of whack.

I always made sure all ingredients were weighed especially the higher priced ingredients such as cheese and meats. That way, everything is consistent, every pie is the same, and there’s no surprises for the customer. That’s why I put myself in as one of the pizza makers to keep an eye on everything.

We never measured our cheese before but with some new hires coming on board, I think we will start doing it.

So what type of cups do you guys use? What is the weight/cup size you use for a 10" 12" and 14"

The type and mix of cheese you use determines the density, PizzaAl. Mine may not weigh or have the same volume as yours. Everyone makes different types of pizza, too. Some are toppings heavy and others are not, so what others do may have no relationship to your situation.

I would suggest that you make a model pizza for each size of what you want it to look, taste and cook like, then measure and round up or down slightly to some value. I would go with volume instead of weight since it’s faster thrown down. You can mark any large, clear cup with the volume you decide.

We don’t use a press, so thickness of the dough may be a little different for different sizes. That means that they cook a little differently, so my cheese volumes are not strict ratios based on surface area of each size. Just because a large is 1.5 times a medium in surface area doesn’t mean we use precisely 1.5 times more cheese.

I like onion on my pizza but not when it is smothered…So in my mind it is not about portion control for food cost, it is about consistency…

Some good suggestions there. For me i think the weighing option sounds a little time consuming given that we are very short on space and i can imagine staff waiting around to use the scales. I think ill look into the measuring cup option and the different size ladles for the sauce. In addition to saving money it will improve consistency

Royce is so correct with the consistancy reasoning. You can adjust your cost based on what a well topped pizza is too you. You then train your people to make that pizza. Now you have to balance time and consistancy. I think the customer that gets what they want will not complain about the extra seconds that it takes when they can get the same great product each and every time.

I think a lot of this now falls on the quality of your employees and their work. Why do the big 3 use cups and weigh everything all under the watchful eye of a manager and assist mgr every step of the way? Because they have too! When they dont…20 lbs pizzas go out the door and end up on youtube!

I can see the scaling of super-high cost items and cheese… but as more toppings are added… you naturally adjust their weight or count. Except cheese & sauce for the most part. You need someone that can think on the fly and not just fill a cup. Then what… cups with 10 lines to mark how many other toppings on pie and reduce cup capacity by that number of lines? NO! Hire betters workers and you will not have to worry about most of this.

Sorry to turn this off topic a little but I think it is the answer to the topic. With everyone trying to keep costs down…how can paying more in wages be the answer? Well… a happy worker will in the long run pay for themselves time and time again. Less headaches for you… the CONSISTANCY that everyone wants… and hopefully higher profits in the end. Ask yourself this… if you are there alone and make a pizza for an order…do you weigh and count…etc? OR… do you just know what that pizza is supposed to look like? You taught yourself how to make your consistant product… so why not have employees that learn their jobs instead of just being shown the job daily… by way of a cup? :idea:

I hear everyone out their about nuisance and “constricting staff” with weighing. I do, and lived that life for 7 years. It will make more sense in a smaller market like mine, but let me offer another viewpoint for themarkets that get bigger and bigger.

There is ZERO. I think I need to clarify ABSOLUTELY ZERO chance of consistent portioning of cheese, sauce or anything else using an eye/view method. You might get into what you will call an acceptable range, but given the vast variations in density, shapes, sizes and color contrasts, the human eye is just not physically capable. Accurate consistent measurement of shredded cheese is equally impractical to impossible. That can translate into actual real money.

If you can accept that there can be as much as a half ounce variation on cheese for a 12" pizza (I can realy that I did weight hand thrown cheese on a series of 20 pies once, and fond the average variance was +.6 oz) . . . then let’s do math. If cheese cost 2.50/lb, then it costs 15.6 cents per ounce. I was losing almost 8 cents per pie on my 12" pizzas . . . my 16" I was averaging 1.25 oz over weight . . . 19.5 cents per pie.

How many pies do you make in a week? Increasing my food costs 1% to 1.5% adds up to very real money in my small operation. In a place doing 300 a day will be losing between $40 and $50 a day in cheese alone. $280 to $350 a week if average 300 pies a day at my variability. This figure does not include figuers for free throwing “extra cheese”. That would pay my utility bill.

You mileage will most certainly vary from mine. I just wanted to give concrete numbers to all the “fellings” and “impressions” flowing around.

I can also tell you that an extra ounce of onions AND bell pepper AND mushroom on a 16" pizza will risk a soupy mess if your testing and baking procedures do not account for them. I didn’t lose sleep over produce costs either, but I sure made certain the cooks knew the consequences of careless throwing of vegetables that are 70% to 90% water.

I think cups are a poor choice over weighing just because of the density point Nick just made. I would think an intelligent employee could sauce a dough within an acceptable range each time. Then as I said… weigh the cheese as I would easily guess a cup could have a +/- of 50+% depending on how one compacts or just scoops it up. I really am starting to see the appeal of sliced cheese!

Ground and especially if you are using raw meats will be another issue of how you fill a cup…back to the scale but also I think back to good training. If the 6 oz of sausage looks like it only put 1 piece on a slice and you didn’t size them like meatballs…then maybe add a little to get that consistancy pie. If this goes on a lot… the good employee will catch it and say… hey, we have been using extra sausage this last couple days and something is off!

The last point is what Nick said about veggies! This is where even scaling I would think is a waste and you really need well trained employees. What if you have a really wet batch of peppers? Common sense needs a roll here… as I can easily see the PH worker scooping up a cup of peppers and having the cup half filled with water from the bottom of the prep pan that wasn’t set up with a drain insert! Ok… I dont know why the pizza is soggy! Dripping actually! :roll:

I weigh the cheese on the pizzas at both my stores and can’t imagine someone not being willing to slow their makeline down by a fraction of a second for each pizza in order to create a consistent product and keep food costs in line. When my managers wanted to put the scales aside for the busy days I made it clear that the busy days were the most important days to use the scale. If every pizza was over one ounce of cheese, it will cost me over $20,000 between the two stores annually.