Cost management: How to keep your kitchen in budget


Love it or loathe it, budgeting is fundamental to the success of any organisation – and an essential part of running a care home kitchen. When it comes to installing a new semi-commercial kitchen, there are several factors to consider to make sure you get the maximum from your budget.

Wear and tear
Unlike domestic kitchens care home kitchens are used for commercial purposes. That means a lot more wear and tear, and a wooden or MDF build just won’t last the distance. A care home requires a lasting, durable solid-steel base – much like the commercial kitchens you find in restaurants and hotels. That said, a fully commercial restaurant kitchen often looks out of place in the warm and home-like environment of a care home. Instead, look for a kitchen made from a durable steel frame that has a home-like finishing, such as powder-coated steel cupboard doors.

Hygiene
Keeping food fresh and clean is paramount in any kitchen, but it’s even more important in care homes as older people have weaker immune systems and are more susceptible to infection. When researching your new kitchen, be sure to consider the ease in which you can clean the kitchen and keep it clean. Always avoid wooden work surfaces, for example, as wood absorbs bacteria and is harder to keep clean. Surfaces with visible joins are also a no-go. Instead, opt for stainless steel surfaces that clearly show up spills and stains, are easy to wipe down, deep clean, and don’t harbour breeding grounds for bacteria.

Running a kitchen
Once you’ve selected and installed your kitchen, you’ll need to stay on budget with the day-to-day management of it. Your kitchen staff should have all completed relevant food hygiene training, meaning they should follow the correct procedures for storing food, but they may need reminding from time to time, especially when dealing with a busy workload. By providing regular training top-ups and access to information – such as posters, leaflets and brochures – you can help your team stay on top of the storage processes and ensure that food is kept safe for as long as possible, thereby reducing waste and bringing down food costs.

Cooking on demand
As well as storing food correctly, you can minimise waste by making meals on demand instead of by batch. Start by consulting with nutrition experts and the residents themselves (and if necessary their families too), and then prepare an appropriate menu that uses seasonal ingredients. Make sure that many of the same ingredients can be used in several dishes, and have a good mix of perishable and non-perishables items. By catering on demand rather than by batch, you will reduce leftovers and bring down costs, while also providing a far more enriching experience for your residents.

Win-win all round.


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