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9 Tips To Design The Perfect Menu

Chante Venter

Planning a Restaurant Menu can be both challenging and frustrating, but it doesn’t have to be! Today, the ideal restaurant menu offers a balance of unique, modern dishes and old favourites. 

We’ve put together a list of the top 9 things to consider when planning your menu.



1. Consider your Customers

The most important thing to consider is what type of clients your Restaurant attracts and to design a menu that appeals to them!

For example, if your Restaurant is located on the beachfront, your customer base will be very relaxed. Thus a good idea would be to sell foods that are easily edible by hand, like perhaps gourmet burgers or fancy ice cream. This type of menu would be favourable to customers in this area and would increase sales. 


2. Plan for Special Customer Needs

To design the perfect menu, restaurant owners need to take their client’s needs into consideration. 

Vegetarian clients often complain about the poor selection of vegetarian dishes on restaurant menus. A recent survey revealed that 41% of consumers stated they are eating more vegetables than they did a year before. Try to add more than one vegetarian meal in each food section of your menu and add more veggies in general. 

If your Restaurant is child-friendly, then make sure you nail the kiddies section on your menu too. Make the dishes fun and unique, the parents will love you for it.

Other special dietary requirements you could cater to (or have alternatives for) are gluten and lactose intolerance. With the wide variety of alternatives available today, this can easily be achieved

If you opt for customization, be sure to make this visible on the menu. This helps clients make their decision and ups the overall satisfaction levels.

Finally, remember to add descriptions of each dish on your menu to give clients an idea of what ingredients they can expect. Importantly, items like nuts and other allergenic foods should be listed prominently.


3. Determine Menu Cost and Selling Prices

While not skimping on quality, you need to try to keep menu prices within your target market’s budget.

There are a few ways to achieve a good balance between cost and quality.

Firstly, try to keep portion sizes on the smaller side at a reasonable price. Remember that quality beats quantity every time. For more information and data on the benefits of serving small portion sizes in restaurants check out our article. 

Include cheaper value-adding fillers. You don’t have to load the plate with the most expensive item in the recipe. Limit the expensive ingredients and fill the plate with a mix of salad, chips, vegetables, etc. Having multiple options for each dish generally adds to customer satisfaction.

Remember to compare prices from different suppliers to ensure that you get the best quality ingredients at the lowest cost. 

Don’t forget to sneak a peek at your competition’s menu and selling prices when designing your own menu. Try to keep your prices in line with those of your competitors. 

Check out the top-rated Costing Software for 2020 at Reapon. 


4. Choose Your Menu Style and Design

You also need to consider the “look” of your menu and how this will be received by your guests. Your menu should be easy to read and serve as a sales tool. 

There are a variety of design programs you can use to create your menu, such as Canva. You can use predesigned templates, so it’s as easy as copy and paste. 

Another great option is menu management software. The idea is to offer an all in one software for restaurants that offers an easy way to create, manage and update electronic menus. The software allows you to develop or adjust recipes, add nutritional and allergen info on food ingredients, help with menu costing as well as fulfil food labelling requirements.



5. Decide on Your Main Produce and Ingredients

Delicious meals require fresh ingredients and produce. If there is a farmers market close by, try to get most of the required ingredients for your dishes there.

The produce will often be cheaper and by supporting farmers’ markets you are also supporting the community surrounding your Restaurant and this could encourage clients to dine at your Restaurant. 

Always remember to check the availability of menu items when planning a new dish for your menu. Seasonal fruits and vegetables should be taken into consideration and listed as such in the menu.


6. Plan for Waste

Waste is inevitable, however, it can be managed effectively. While costing a menu it is important to consider methods to reduce waste. 

Try to keep your menu small and use perishable ingredients in multiple recipes. By doing this, perishable goods will be used more frequently – reducing waste. 

Another method to reduce waste would be to implement the “FIFO” Method (First In First Out). The oldest produce should always be used first before fresh goods are used. 

Reducing waste can be simplified by using Cloud Inventory Software. For example, the No Spoilers innovative tools give staff easy access to loss reporting (breakage and waste), as well as enable to monitor open and closed containers based on active sales. This way you know what stock you have and what’s going on in your restaurant in realtime.

We hate waste and minimizing it is a huge priority for us. If you need more tips and tricks to minimize your restaurant waste, you can find them in our recent article. 


7. Be Creative But Realistic 

If you plan to have an extravagant menu you need to make sure that your chef can successfully prepare the dishes you want to serve. A mouth-watering menu means nothing if the meals don’t meet the client’s expectations. The dishes on your menu should be easy and quick to prepare. 


8. Plan for Special Menu Offers

Keep a spot open on your menu for special offers. Running regular specials is a great way to attract clients. Specials are also ideal to get rid of ingredients that are approaching their expiry date. 

If you are considering a new menu item, add it to your specials and check to see if clients like it before adding it to your menu.

A final bonus: by creating specials you might attract new clients and create more awareness of your Restaurant. 



9. Stay on Top of Food Trends 

It is essential to keep your menu trendy and up to date! Be creative with the dishes on your menu and consider hiring a creative writer to describe your dishes in a way that makes your clients’ mouths water. 

Also, make sure that your meals look delicious when they are presented to clients. People eat with all their senses so it is important that each dish you create looks, tastes and smells fantastic! 

Staying on top of restaurant trends in terms of technology and food will ensure repeat customers. BBC also wrote a great article on the foreseen food trends for 2020 which can be taken into consideration when creating a menu.



By following these basic guidelines you will be able to create the ideal menu for your Restaurant. Remember to keep your costing up to date. Once in a while have a look at your menu to remove unpopular dishes and replace them with trendy new ones. Having the right software will help you manage your inventory, staff, and restaurant in general. 

While costing and creating the perfect menu can be daunting, the end result is equally rewarding. Allow yourself to create more than just a menu, create an experience that will leave your clients wanting more! 




“One cannot think well, love well and sleep well if one has not dined well”

Virginia Woolf

Chante Venter

She has a way with words, folding and basting them as delicately as you would a buttery croissant. With years of experience in writing and hospitality, her mission is to bring you the latest news and trends in the industry. As a sweet addition to our team, say hello to your content guru, Chante – a Master’s Graduate and all-round nice girl.

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