Food Catering: Maximize Efficiency – Minimize Waste and Excess Spending

People have long associated hospital food with a poor dining experience.  This trend is beginning to change. Hospital facilities are devoting more time, money, and resources to providing high quality, healthy, and enjoyable food to patients, staff, and visitors.

From a patient perspective, there are two things more important than everything else:

  • Meals should be healthy, based on their current health condition
  • The food should taste good

While keeping patient viewpoint as a top priority, health care providers must also keep a watchful eye on food costs without a negative impact on the patient experience.

Catering overhead includes the following costs:

  • Food
  • Supplies
  • Meal preparation
  • Meal service
  • Payroll, including dining room staff and porters

Operational Tips

Even if your hospital has performed well in regards to catering income, performance can be boosted in the following ways:

  • Use a dedicated catering platform. This makes it easy to track material usage, review cost of goods, and maintain control over all aspects of the process.
  • Maximize efficiency through the consolidation of daily production requirements. Rather than produce one order at a time, this approach allows you to implement a more streamlined work flow.
  • Take advantage of patient feedback. This is based on one thing only: the way patients feel about the food they are served. With patient feedback in hand, it’s easier to make cost effective adjustments in the future.

Top Ways to Reduce Food Costs

Every hospital should have a system in place for reducing food costs. Neglecting to focus on this detail can lead to tens of thousands of dollars (or more) in wasted food every year.

Three of the best ways to reduce food costs include:

  1. Measure Inventory – Regularly audit stock to ensure a clear understanding of your inventory needs.
  2. Search for a Better Deal – Food suppliers know that hospitals can be some of their best customers. Compare your current supplier to the competition.  Making a change could be a simple step to save money.
  3. Monitor Waste – Measure everything, including waste. Three ways to monitor waste include:
  • Conduct regular waste bin audits
  • Implement a waste log
  • Make use of the regular analysis of waste collection and measurement

There will always be some level of waste in a hospital setting. Your goal should be to minimize waste as a means of maximizing profit.

Conclusion

Many hospitals run into two problems in regards to food catering:

  • They don’t live up to the expectations of the patient.
  • They lose money (or profit less) as the result of a faulty system.

By changing your strategy, you may be able to save money while providing patients with the healthy, enjoyable food they expect.

About the Author:

Michael Salzer has over 30 years of healthcare experience specializing in food, environmental services and facilities management. His background as a financial analyst and in contract and operation management gives him a solid background in finding and achieving significant savings within his projects. His system based approach maintains effective results over time.