3 Best Practices for Managing Your Restaurant Inventory

Inventory Management

Let’s paint a well-known picture for almost every chef who walks through this scenario on the regular. It’s late. You’re tired. You’ve been on your feet for what seems days (probably because it actually has been days), and you’re making your final rounds around the kitchen. Just one thing left to do; take inventory. This is the part where you whip out that clipboard and inventory sheet and walk around your kitchen, manually counting stock and figuring out your on-hand levels. Then you take that sheet back to your computer, compare it to your par levels, add it all up and fire it off to your supplier via late night phone call, voicemail, email, or fax.

Let's review everything you'll need to manage your inventory like a pro.


The hardest part of inventory management is forecasting. Forecasting is a practice that helps you determine how much stock you'll need for a certain deadline and duration. To do this, it's important to map out your inventory by setting par and on-hand levels. Par levels are minimum amount of inventory you should have at any given time and on-hand levels are the actual quantity available.

Sync with other back of house systems

Sure you may be able to find a sliver of your busy day to manually check and record par vs. on-hand inventory levels. But how do you get your entire staff of the same page? Here's a hint: get rid of the page. You're unable to sync up paper and pen with finances and CRM which means you can't track trends and deliver more actionable forecasts in the future.

As your business grows, so will your demand, and subsequently your inventory. Your old system (looking at you pen and paper) typically can't keep up the higher demand and increased complexity.

Avoid neglect

With so many consumer-facing demands these days, it's all too easy for your back of house operations to run sub-optimally. An efficient inventory management system can help you keep organized, keep costs down, and always have ready-to-go inventory.

Does it all sound like one big juggling act? We know. That's why we advocate for modern inventory management systems, like BlueCart that allows chefs to slice this whole process down to minutes. Let’s compare scenarios. It’s late. You’re making your rounds, taking your inventory. But there’s no clipboard. No inventory sheet. There isn’t even a spreadsheet. Just a chef and his/her phone. Rather than counting and comparing on-hand and par levels, you’re just entering current on-hand levels into your inventory management system. Meanwhile that system is doing all the heavy lifting. It’s comparing your levels for you.

Food and beverage costs usually run up 25-40% of a restaurant’s total cost. Labor is the only other cost that rivals food and beverage, meaning these are the two categories that require an especially watchful eye. Aside from saving chefs a tremendous amount of time, immense value lies in a proper inventory management strategy’s ability to get the most out of your capital. A wonderful byproduct of these systems is it’s ability to reduce food waste, another reason chefs lose sleep at night.

A robust inventory management system allows chef to unlock a greater portion of those shelves. This means fresher ingredients coming and going as your inventory gets more and more efficient, increased customer satisfaction, and decreased COGS. If you want to run a leaner kitchen while increasing efficiency, productivity, and profit, then deploying an inventory management tool in your restaurant is a terrific place to start.

If you have questions about inventory management for your restaurant or would like to learn more about BlueCart, please visit our website where we also have convenient online chat. If you're ready to join the BlueCart family, please head to the front of the line!