Menu Planning

What is a Menu Planning & Why is it so Important.

If you are a restaurant, hotel, hospital or any such service owner or service provider than menu planning is one of the most important part to be carried out with most priority. Because this is the main ingredient for your client & customer to bounce back.

Lets jump into the details of Menu Planning & all about it in details.


Menu is a list of dishes to be served in a given meal. Menu can be defined as a list of food item served in an establishment. The arrangement of is food offered by the organization.

Menu planning is the selection of a menu for an event. Meal planning is making a plan of meals with adequate nutrition for every member within available resources

Meal planning is the act of advanced planning of the menu for different situations such as for a family or a restaurant. It is important to consider the dietary needs of the people one is preparing for.

The Purpose Of Menu

  • To list items sold in the restaurant.
  • To educate customers
  • List of price
  • Menu description
  • Act as a marketing tools
  • Major determinant for the budget.
  • Gives customers a sense of who you are as an operation.
  • Part of an organization’s brand identity

Importance of menu planning

  • Customer satisfaction
  • Facilitating costing
  • Facilitating pricing
  • Reference by customer and management
  • Guide production
  • Facilitate evaluation and improvements
  • Facilitate ordering
  • Plan storage
  • Guides the catering staff on how to prepare dishes
  • Help the catering staff to prepare in terms of attitudes,   skills ordering etc.
  • Some menu requires special preparation like decorations and equipment therefore menu will help in availing the necessary.

Types of menu

Table d’hôte

This is a set menu forming a complete meal at a set price where choice of dishes is offered at all courses. The menu has a fixed number of courses. There is a limited choice within each course. The selling price is fixed. The food is usually available at a set time. It comprises a complete meal at a predetermined price. It usually includes three to five course meals available at a fixed price.

A La Carte

 Menu with all the dishes individually priced. Customers compile their own menu from the list. The meal is cooked to order. The customer should be prepared to wait for this service. The choice is generally more extensive.

Static Menu

In this type, same menu items are offered every day. Frequently used if restaurant’s concept is built around the menu, including:

  • Décor
  • Advertising campaign
  • Market segment identified as the target audience

Examples: Mc Donalds

Cycle Menu

Different items each day on a weekly, bi-weekly, or some other basis, after which the cycle is repeated.  Seasonal cycle menus are common. Used in healthcare institutions and schools. This offers variety with some degree of control over purchasing, production, and cost.

Single Use

This is planned for service on a particular day and not used in the exact form a second time. Used in on-site food service in which the customer does not vary much from day to day

Du jour menu – List the items “of the day”

These menus change daily and are focused on seasonal ingredients, preparing the freshest food possible.

Tourist menu

This menu is used to attract tourists.

California Menu

A guest may order any item on the menu at any time of the day.

Differences between Table D’Hote and A’ La Carte

Table D’HoteA’ La Carte
Food is kept in fully prepared form and can be served immediatelyFood is kept in a semi prepared form and takes time to serve.
Menu is collectively priced and the customer has to pay for the full menu whether he consumes a certain dish or notFood items are individually served and guests pay for what they order
There is limited or no choice. The menu is comparatively smallThere is a vast choice. The menu is elaborate


Party/function Menus

This menu is for banquets or functions of all kinds. All guests start the meal at the same time. Seasonable foods must be available if the menus are printed well in advance to avoid embarrassments.

Ethnic/ Specialty menus

Can be al carte or table d’hôte specializing in the food or religion of the country or in a specialized food itself e.g.

 a) Ethnic: – Chinese, Indian, Kosher, Kenyan, African etc

 b) Specialty: – steak, fish, pasta, vegetarian etc

  • Kitchen staff must know how to obtain and use the ingredients.
  •  The ambience (mood) of the restaurant must reflect the menu.

Hospital menus/Institutional menus

It’s a form of a menu given to the patient. The day before service the patient ticks his/her preferences. A dietician is usually involved with menu compilation to ensure nothing is given to the patients that would be detrimental to their health. The patient’s meals are usually 2-3 courses.

Menu for people at work

Menus served to people at the work place. They vary in standard and extent from one employer to another depending on the company policy. They are usually served in staff canteens or cafeteria. Some companies charge for the meals and some ask for a token sum and offer meals at a subsidized price/rate. The menu offers 2 or 3 course meal with a selection of items.

Traditional menus/Ethnic menus

Traditional recipes form a sound foundation of knowledge for the chef/caterer. However fashions in food change and customers look for new dishes, different combinations of food, fresh ideas on menu etc. Some of the most successful menus contain a sensible balance of traditional and contemporary dishes.

Menu for children

They emphasize on healthy eating and a balanced diet in schools. Schools with children from different cultural and religious backgrounds should have appropriate items available o the menu. Most establishments provide special children’s menus which concentrate on favorite foods


Menu Planning
Menu Planning

Breakfast: is the first meal taken after rising from a night’s sleep, most often eaten in the early morning before undertaking the day’s work. Among English speakers, “breakfast” can be used to refer to this meal or to refer to a meal composed of traditional breakfast foods (such as eggs, oatmeal and sausage) served at early morning.

 Brunch is a combination of breakfast and lunch eaten usually during the late morning but it can extend to as late as 3 pm. The word is combination of breakfast and lunch. Brunch originated in England in the late 1800s, served in a buffet style manner, and became popular in the United States in the 1930s

Lunch is a midday meal of varying size depending on the culture. During the 20th century gradually focused toward a small or mid-sized meal eaten at midday. Lunch is the second meal of the day after breakfast.

High tea usually refers to the evening meal or dinner of the working class, typically eaten between 5 pm and 7 pm. Consists of a hot dish, followed by cakes and bread, butter and jam. Occasionally there would be cold cuts of meat, such as ham salad.

 Elevenses are a snack that is similar to afternoon tea, but eaten in the morning. It is generally less savory than brunch, and might consist of some biscuits with a cup of coffee or tea. The name refers to the time of day that it is taken around 11am.

Dinner usually refers to the most significant, and important, meal of the day, which can be the noon or the evening meal. The average dinner time in the U.K. for those who call their evening meal dinner has been found to be at 7.47pm.

Supper may refer to a late- evening snack or else as an informal family meal (which would be eaten in the kitchen or hall room) as opposed to dinner which would be eaten in the dining room. It is common for social interest and hobby clubs that meet in the evening after normal dinner hours to announce that “a light supper” will be served after the main business of the meeting. This is normally taken between 10 pm to 11 pm.


There are few courses presented in the menu, such as:

1. Appetizer – a small portion of a food served at the beginning of a meal to stimulate the appetite.

2. Soup – Soup also act as an appetizer may be thick soup (crème) and clear soup.

3. Salad – Small plate of salad, quite often simply green salad and dressing.

4. Fish – Fish is served, usually before the main course. Prepares the palate for the heavier meats that follow.

5. Main course – The main meat course on the menu, larger other course. A sauce or a roast gravy with potatoes and green vegetables are always served with this course.

6. Dessert – The sweet items at the end of a meal.

7. Cheese – The range of cheeses and various accompaniments, including biscuits, breads, celery, grapes etc.

The most typical meals course is:

1 course meal

  • Main course

2 course meal

  • Appetizer & Main course,
  • Main course & Dessert

3 course meal

  • Appetizer
  • Main course
  • Dessert

4.course meal

  • Appetizer/Soup
  • Salad
  • Main course
  • Dessert

5 course meal

  • Soup, Fish, Main course, Dessert &Cheese, OR
  • Soup, Appetizer, Salad ,Main course & Dessert

6 course meal

  • Appetizer
  • Soup
  • Fish
  • Salad
  • Maincourse
  • Dessert

Factors to consider when planning menus

Several factors direct what kind of menu to make

  1. Nutrition requirements -Proteins, Starches, Vitamins, Fats, Mineral salts
  2. Health consideration-Sickness, Deficiencies like scurvy, kwashiorkor
  3. Availability of foodstuffs – Seasonal foods likeFruits,Vegetables
  4. Number of courses – Appetizer, Main dish, Dessert
  5. Sequence of courses
  6. Nutritional balance
  7. Occasions-Funerals, Wedding, Birthday etc.

Things to consider when planning Menus

  • Practical Aspects
  • Gastronomic Aspects
  • Economic Aspects
  • Nutritional Aspects

Factors Affecting Menu Planning

  • Nutritional Adequacy
  • Age
  • Physical Activity
  • Economic considerations
  • Time, energy and considerations
  • Seasonal availability
  • Religion, region, tradition and cultural pattern
  • Likes and dislikes of individuals.
  • Satiety value.

Cultural and religious dietary influences

  • Various faiths have differing requirements with regard to the ingredients that may be consumed,
  • Cover preparation methods, cooking procedures and equipment used.
  • Hindus do not eat beef and rarely pork. Some will not eat any meats, fish or eggs.
  • Diets may include milk and vegetarian dishes.
  • Jews Do not eat pork or pork products, shellfish or animal fats and gelatin from beasts considered to be unclean or not slaughtered according to the
  • Prescribed manner – kosher (clean).
  • Muslims will not eat meat, offal or animal fat unless it is halal meat. Will not
  • Consumed alcohol even used in cooking.
  • Sikhs do not eat beef or pork. Some will keep to a vegetarian diet.
  • Rastafarians will not eat any processed foods, pork or fish without fins (ex: eels). Will
  • Not consume tea, coffee or alcohol.
  • Roman Catholics Usually will not eat meats on Ash Wednesday or Good Friday. Some of them not eat meat on Friday.


  • It may derive from cultural, religious, moral, ethical or physiological considerations.
  • Vegetarians’ semi does not eat red meats or all meats. Diet may include fish, poultry and dairy products.
  • Vegetarians’ lacto-ovo does not eat meat, fish or poultry but may eat milk, milk products and eggs.
  • Vegetarians’ lacto do not eat meat, fish and eggs but may eat milk and milk products.
  • Vegans do not eat any foods of animal origin. Diet only consists of vegetables, vegetable oils, cereals, nuts, fruits and seeds.
  • Fruitarians Diet may include mainly raw fruits and dried fruits, nuts, honey and olive oil.



 The capability of the chefs or cooks to produce the quality and quantity of food necessary is a basic consideration. The use of a standard recipes and cooking procedures will help ensure consistency.


 In order to produce the desired menu items, the proper equipment must be installed in an efficient layout. Menu items are selected to avoid overuse of one piece of equipment.


 Availability requires that a constant, reliable source of supply at a reasonable price be established and maintained. High quality ingredients make a high quality product.  The operator takes advantage of the seasons when items are at their lowest price.


Price is the major factor in menu selection. Food cost and portion size and control are the best indicators of the price to charge for dishes on a menu.


 Restaurant guests are becoming increasingly concerned about the nutritional value of food. This is creating a higher demand for the healthier items, such fish and shellfish because have far less fat than other protein foods..


Defining a specific dining behavior or demand in cuisine among a certain population would then qualify as a menu trend. Focus on certain areas of the country as well as consider multiple demographic variables such as age, income and ethnic.


Restaurants must be accurate and truthful when describing dishes on the menu. Menu accuracy in menu descriptions such as spicy, marinated, fresh, sizzling, crunchy is done.

Factors to consider when compiling menus

  • Pricing policy based on cost
  • Clientele
  • Staff capability
  • Facilities for cooking and service
  • Balance
  • Business promotion and marketing
  • Availability and season of supplies

Costing and pricing menus

  • Cost of individual ingredients in a recipe
  • Cost of each recipe
  • Total cost of each dish
  • Total cost of the whole meal
  • Profit margin and price per portion

How to create a better menu?

  • Clear and concise. (Make sure the Price is right)
  • Menu Size
  • Placement
  • Dish Description
  • Location
  • Brands name
  • Don’t confuse your consumers


A recipe is a set of instruction for producing a certain dish. In order to duplicate desired preparations, it is necessary to record the ingredients, their amounts and the way they are combined or cooked. Standardized recipes are a set of instruction describing the way a particular establishment prepares a particular dish.

The structure of a standardized recipe

  1. Name of the recipe
  2. Yield, including total yield, number of portions and portion size.
  3. Ingredients and exact amounts, listed in order of use.
  4. Equipment needed including measuring equipment, pan sizes, portioning equipment and so on.
  5. Directions for preparing the dish
  6. Preparation and cooking times
  7. Directions for portioning, platting and garnishing
  8. Directions for breaking down the station, cleaning up and storing leftovers

Function of standardized recipes

1. Standardized recipes are detailed and specific. This is to ensure that the products are the same every time it is made and served, no matter who cooks it.

2. They indicate precise quantities for every ingredients and how they are to be measured and they indicate exact yields and portion size and how the portions are to be measured and served.

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