By Dr. Darrel Suderman |

Are you looking for ways to reduce your food costs – while growing your menu product sales? Or, how could you rotate your food ingredients to reduce food costs and food waste?

Allow me to share a simple concept used by high end delis, and maybe this will spur some business benefits to your food truck business.

In order to be successful in any restaurant business, three general axioms of business success and profitability must be followed. They are 1) Control food costs, 2) Control labor costs, and 3) Keep an eye on the cash drawer. In this article, I would like to offer some suggestions for lowering food cost and reducing food waste – while growing your product sales.


One of my business partners is a Certified Master Chef (CMC) who owns an upscale deli restaurant in a major downtown city – and he uses a simple structured menu rotation model to maintain product freshness, availability, and provide multiple sales options. This simple model could save you money and provide a means to expand your product sales options. It represents an “integrated food truck menu”.


The Gourmet Deli Model begins with the use of fresh refrigerated meats, produce, herbs, and other ingredients that form the foundation of your unique product menu. These ingredients are the building blocks for your signature menu, and they may also represent locally sourced organic products. But unfortunately, all fresh products have a limited shelf-life before they must be thrown out – or used in other products!


In the Gourmet Food Model, the fresh meat and produce products can be cooked and combined into new hot prepared or refrigerated products before they reach the end of their “fresh shelf-life”. This second tier of products might represent chilled protein or bean salads, etc. And once they have been cooked, the clock starts on their second shelf-life time span. And with a little packaging creativity, you have an entirely new category of products that consumers can take home and use for their evening meal.


The final phase of the Gourmet Food Model is the fresh frozen category. This third tier of products could represent soups and other protein products that were either sold refrigerated or lend themselves to a frozen product – such as soups or protein products. These products are frozen before they reach the end of their refrigerated shelf-life. And like fresh chilled products, your fresh frozen line of food products represents a new line of potential products for your customers. The shelf-life of these products could range from 3 to 12 months. You might even consider selling these branded products in a local retail grocery store or deli.


The Gourmet Food Model represents an integrated menu management system designed to reduce food waste, reduce food cost, increase sales, and enable your business to achieve consistent profit and sales growth. The integrated menu can only work with a proper balance of product creativity and the application of technical food safety practices. And since most food trucks use locally inspected commissaries, the implementation of this model will take a coordinated effort with your commissary to insure all food safety practices are followed to the nth degree!

Those are some of my thoughts, what are yours? Please feel free to let us know.

Dr. Darrel Suderman is both a food scientist and food innovation mentor. He teaches a series of food innovation classes annually for the restaurant industry at Johnson and Wales University in Denver, CO.  He can be contacted at or 303-471-1443. The company website is His company, Food Technical Consulting, provides business and technical consulting to the food truck industry based on his work experiences at 8 major restaurant chains, and seven years of food and commissary processing companies.