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Step # 6: The Recipe � Grocery Savings Keystone

Grocery CartWhat two colors do manufacturers often use because they are likely to catch your eye?

A. Red and bright blue
B. Red and green
C. Red and pink
D. Red and yellow

Answer D

Take notice the next time you go shopping. Red and yellows are used extensively because they are both colors that catch the eye.

The keystone of any menu is the recipe. The recipe is an important tool for the cook. It�s the means of recording and passing along critical information. Cooking without a recipe is like learning to play the piano without using written music.

In spite of its importance, written recipes have many limits. No matter how detailed a recipe may be it assumes that you already have certain knowledge � that you understand the language it uses and that you know how to measure ingredients.

A recipe is a set of instructions for creating specific food dishes. In order to repeat a desired meal, it is necessary that we have a precise record of the ingredients, their amounts, and the way in which we combined and cooked them.

Everyone�s favorite meal is Aunt Fay�s Easy Weeknight Chili. Because you�ve make it so often, you can cook it without looking at your aunt�s recipe card.

Easy Weeknight Chili
Makes 4 servings.

Prep Time: 5 min.
Cooking Time: 20 min.

1 pound ground beef
2 cans (8 ounces each) tomato sauce
1 can (15 ounces) red kidney beans, undrained
1 package (1.25 ounces) chili seasoning
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
Chopped onion (garnish)

  • In 2 to 3-quart saucepan over medium-high heat, add ground beef and cook until no longer pink, stirring often. Drain. 

  • Next, stir in tomato sauce, beans and seasoning. 

  • Bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 10 minutes.

  • Stir chili before serving. 

  • Top with shredded cheese and onion. 

Many people believe that cooking is just learning recipes. However, a knowledgeable cook is able to prepare food without a written recipe, if they have to. They simply have a good understanding of basic principles and techniques.

Yet, no matter how detailed it is, a written recipe can�t tell you everything, and some judgment by the cook is always required. There are three reasons for this:

1. Food products are not consistent.

2. Kitchens do not have the same equipment

3. For many processes, it is not possible to give exact instruction. For example, how do you set the burner for, �Cook over medium-high heat�? How thick this is a �thick� sauce?

When you make a recipe for the first time, you apply your knowledge and thinking about making the recipe, in relation to your skills. You want to determine the following points:

1.) What are the basic cooking methods?

2.) What are the characteristics of the ingredients?

3.) What is the function of the ingredients?

4.) What are the cooking times?

Experienced cooks know how to cook with judgment. Then you will be able to cook with most recipes, even poorly written ones. You will be able to see what might be wrong with new recipes before you try it and will be able to make adjustments in it. You will know how to substitute ingredients or use different equipment. You will even be able to create new recipes.

Remember, I said that some recipes supply very little information and depend largely on the cook�s knowledge. In cooking, thorough measurement is a key part. It is important for constant quality each time you make a recipe. Moreover, it is important for cost control. There are two important kinds of kitchen measurements:

Ingredient measurement

Portion Control

Weighing is the most accurate method of measuring ingredients. It is the method used for most solid ingredients. Accurate scales are necessary for weighting. Because of their convenience, cooks use small portion scales in the kitchen.

Cooks use volume measures, for example measuring cups, for liquids. Measuring a liquid by volume is usually faster than weighing it, and accuracy is good.

You usually do not measure solid ingredients by volume since they cannot usually be measure accurately by this method. A pint of chopped onions will vary considerably in weight, depending on how large or small you cut them. Another factor is how loose or well packed the measuring cup is.

Dry ingredients such as flour or sugar are usually weighted. However, you may measure them by volume, when speed is more important than accuracy.

Measuring ingredients by count in these circumstances:

1. When units are in standard sized. Like 6 large eggs.

2. When you determine serving portions by number of units.

Portion Control is the measurement of portions to ensure that you serve the correct amount of an item. The home cook must be aware of proper portion sizes. The recipe usually tells us what the portion sizes are.

Portion control actually begins with the measuring of ingredients. If you don�t do this correctly, then your recipe servings will be thrown off.

When portions are determined by count � 1 hamburger patty, 2 tomato slices, 1 slice of pie � then the units must be measure or cut according to instructions: 4 ounces of meat per patty; 1/4-inch slices of tomato; 8 equal pie slices.

For the home use, it is important in calorie control if people are heath conscious.

Frequently, you will need to convert recipes to different amounts. For example, you may have a recipe for 10 servings of Swiss steak, but you only need 5 servings. Converting recipes is a very important technique. Nearly everyone can double a recipe or cut it in half. It seems more complicated to change a recipe from 4 to 7 or 8 to 5. Actually, the principle is the same: you multiple each ingredient by a number called a conversion factor, as follows:

1. Divide the desire yield by the recipe yields: new yield / old yield = conversion factor

2. Multiple each ingredient quantity by the conversion factor: conversion factor x old quantity = new quantity.

(It is best to convert all weights to ounces and all volumes to fluid ounces.)

Let�s say Tom Mix Beans goes from a 8 servings to a 5 servings.

New Yield/old yield = 5/8 = .625

1 pound dried beans = 16 oz. so, 16 oz. x .625 = 10 ounces.
8 cups water = 64 ounces
64 ounces x .625 = 40 ounces = 5 cups

For the most part, these conversion procedures work very well. However, when you make some very large conversion, like from 10 to 400 portions, or from 500 to 6. However, in the home context, this would be a rare occurrence. Not only does it factor in reducing quantity of ingredients and would change the kitchen equipment to do the work. Importantly, it is going to increase or decrease the cooking times.

Food service operations are businesses. However, even though the home is not a business, you still have to worry about budgets, cost and bills. (It�s the reason for the book.) You have a great deal of responsibility for food cost controls. You must always be aware of accurate measurements, portion control, and careful cooking and handling of foods to avoid excess trimming loss, shrinkage, and waste.

In order to calculate portion cost of recipes, you must first determine the cost of your ingredients. For many ingredients, this is relatively easy. You just look at your invoice or at a price list.

Many recipes, however, specify trimmed weight rather than the weight you actually pay for. For example, a stew might call for 1/2-pound of sliced onions. Let�s say you pay 24 cents a pound for onions, and to get 1/2-pound of sliced onions, you need �-pound of untrimmed onions. In order to calculate the cost of the recipe correctly, you have to figure out what you actually paid for the onions. In this cast, the true cost is 18 cents (3/4 times $.24 per lb.) not 12 cents (1/2-pound times $.24 per lb.)

It is the total cost of all the ingredients in a recipes, divided by the number of portions. Portion cost = cost of ingredients / number of portions

I will cost out a sample recipe to show you how the procedure works. First, not the following points and keep them in mind when you are calculating portion costs. Many errors is costing are caused by forgetting one of these points.

1. Cost must be based on as purchased amounts, even though recipes often give edible portion quantities. For example if the chicken recipe calls for you to remove skin, de-bone and chop chicken into pieces. The whole chicken is the purchased amount and the skinless and de-boned is the edible portion.

2. Include everything. That means the lemon wedge and parsley garnish for the fish filled, the cream and sugar that go with the coffee, and the oil that was used for pan-frying the eggplant. You call these the hidden cost. Seasoning and spices are a typical example of hidden costs that are difficult to calculate. I�ve seen where some add up the cost of all hidden items used in a year and divide that by the total food costs to get a percentage. You add this percentage to each item. For example, if the cost of an item is $2.00 and the seasoning cost percentage is 5%, the total cost is $2.00 plus 5% of $2.00, or $2.10. You can calculate other hidden costs the same way. For example, you use Crisco Vegetable oil. The bottle is 48 fl. oz. (The bottle contains 96 �1 tablespoon) The bottle cost $2.00 / 96 = $.02 per tablespoon.

3. Record the number of portions actually served, not just the number of recipe is intended to serve. If the roast beef shrank more that you expected during cooking, or if you dropped a piece of cake on the floor, those cost still have to be converted.

Procedures for calculating portion costs

1. List ingredients and quantities of recipe as prepared.

2. Convert the recipe quantities to as purchased quantities.

3. Determine the price of each ingredient. The units in step 2 and 3 must be the same.

4. Calculate the total cost of each ingredient by multiplying the price per unit by the number of units needed.

5. Add up the ingredient cost to get the total recipe cost.

6. Divide the total cost by the number of portions served to get the cost per portion.

Step 1
1 - pound ground beef
2 - cans (8 ounces each) tomato sauce
1 - can (15 ounces) red kidney beans, undrained
1 - package (1.25 ounces) chili seasoning
1 - cup shredded Cheddar cheese
Chopped onion (garnish)

Step 2
1 - pound ground beef
2 - 8 ounce cans tomato sauce
1 - 15 ounce can red kidney beans
1 - 1.25 ounce package Chili Seasoning
1 - cup shredded Cheddar cheese
chopped onion (garnish)

Step 3 & 4
Ground beef = $3.99 / lb. = 3.99
2 cans tomato sauce = $.49 = $.98
1 can kidney beans = $1.49 = $1.49
1 pkg. chili seasoning = $.69 = $.69
1 c. shredded cheddar cheese = $2.88 / 2 cups = $1.44
chopped onion = $.25 per onion = $.119

Step 5
Total = $8.71

Step 6
divided by 4 = $2.18 per serving

When it is all said and done, there is one important question. Do you read the grocery ads or look for coupons before figuring what recipe you�re going to use? It is the which came first, chicken or egg theory. One of the great things about a restaurant is their menu is standard and their recipes are standard. The items they need don�t vary like in the household.

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