Scales = Accuracy
Accuracy = Less Waste
Less Waste = Less Cost
Less Cost = More Profit
A simple enough set of equations but it’s surprising just how few pubs use of a set of scales as a way of managing and controlling how food stocks are used and determining portion control. In fact, scales should be the central tool in any food manager’s role to make sure as much of the food that comes into the pub goes out as a finished product a customer is paying for. This and the purchase of a meat slicer on a pub Sunday Roast offering recently paid for itself in under a month and over a period of three months added 10% to 15% to my gross margin on the food account alone. See my separate article on Meat Slicers here.
There are three kinds of portion scales: mechanical (spring loaded) scales, balance scales (where weights are added to the scales and product ‘balance weighed’ against them) and digital scales.
Mechanical and balance portion scales indicate weights on a large, easy-to-read dial. These scales are ideal for measuring bulky items that you’re cooking in large quantities, like chips or chicken wings. You sacrifice a little bit of accuracy for speed and convenience, which makes sense if you’re bashing out bar snacks on a busy football day. They can also be an invaluable way of weighing bulkier items on a goods received basis (no point paying for 12lb of carrots when only 10lb have been delivered or for an 8lb beef joint when it weighs only 7½lb)
Digital portion scales are much more accurate and allow you to measure ingredients with precision. Use these scales for measuring out the ingredients to your pub’s world famous gravy, anything that needs to be baked, and other multi-ingredient recipes. The nice thing about digital scales is that you can reset them for the tare*, for imperial and metric weights and to calculate ingredient proportions very easily.
*For those of you who don’t know, the tare on a scale is a feature that tells the scale to ignore the current weight on the scale and measure additional weight from zero. In other words, the mixing bowl you put on the scale will weigh zero once you press the tare button and the scale will only register the weight of the ingredients you add to it.
You can measure ingredient proportions on a digital scale easily and much more accurately than with measuring cups or spoons because different ingredients compact differently in a measuring cup. Flour is the best example a cup of flour can weigh between 4 and 6 ounces, depending on how compacted it is in the cup. If you extrapolate that out to 4 cups of flour, you’ve got up to a 50% difference in the weight of the flour.
You can also calculate proportions more easily with a portion scale because you know how much ingredients that are hard to measure with a cup weigh, like eggs. For example a recipe that calls for three parts flour to two parts egg; if the eggs weigh four ounces, then you know you need six ounces of flour.
Again on high value items such as beef steak they can be used as your goods inward scales (can you accurately tell the difference between a 7oz rump and an 8oz rump?)
Finally, scales can help you manage another extremely important stock item in your pub: alcohol. You depend on alcohol sales to contribute to your bottom line entirely too much for sloppy evaluation of stocks. Use of your scales takes the guesswork out of the equation and allows you to compare hard numbers with your sales so that you can spot theft and put a stop to it quickly. (Sometimes the mere sight of you weighing bottles with or without explanation why you are doing it will put any thief off their mission to steal from you)