How To Develop An Effective Menu

written by

A restaurant, cafe or pub menu can say a lot about an establishment. Aside from reflecting a restaurant’s style and concept, the menu itself should be clear, concise and visually pleasing.

Whether you’re starting from scratch or using an intuitive menu creator like Menuzen, we’ve broken the process down into a series of easy-to-follow steps:

Menu Items

Firstly, let’s pick which menu items you’d like to include in your menu. We recommend considering:

  • Core ingredients – By strategically planning which ingredients you’ll want to have on hand, you can also reduce your restaurant’s food wastage. To offer customers the freshest ingredients and save on costs, we recommend buying in bulk and opting for local foods. This way, you can also establish valuable relationships with nearby suppliers.
  • Seasonal ingredients – Not all produce is available year-round, which can be an issue when you’re running low on stock. However, this could work in your favour especially in the case of a seasonal menu. Check what’s in season and let these ingredients serve as the centrepiece for one or two dishes.
  • Cooking methods – No matter how impressive or avant-garde an item’s cooking method is, it has to be simple enough to be reproduced in a busy kitchen environment.
  • Uniqueness and variety – Keep things interesting with unique dishes, as well as classic favourites that your customers will continue to come back for. With that said, don’t get carried away with having dozens of items on your menu; this can confuse customers!

Once you’ve curated your desired menu items, it’s time to write your menu item descriptions. For the best advice on how to do so, you can read our guidelines here.

Menu Pricing

Pricing each menu item can be tricky – but with a few factors in mind, you can create an effective pricing strategy. We’d suggest properly sitting down and taking into account:

  • Ideal food cost pricing method – This can be worked out by using the following formula.
    Actual Food Cost of Item ÷ Ideal Food Cost Percentage (typically 25-30%) = Price
  • Ingredient costs – The price of produce can vary depending on the season and market demand. Highly profitable items such as lobster or steak are able to fetch a higher price.
  • Overhead costs – Remember, this includes all the costs associated with running your overall business, from the chefs that prepare your food to the waitstaff who serve it.
  • Pricing of competition – By looking at other menu prices, you’ll get an insight into how much customers are willing to pay. While there’s no need to undercut your competitors, you shouldn’t be charging too much either!

Menu Design

Last but not least, you’ll need to tie all the elements of your menu together with an elegant menu design that’s easy on the eyes. Be sure to aim for a neat and uncomplicated layout in order to enhance the viewing experience for your customers.

Though, if you’re dreading the time and costs associated with hiring a designer or doing it yourself, there’s an alternative: Menuzen!

As a free online menu maker tool, Menuzen lets you create, design and manage menus within minutes. Our menu management and design software is completely free and easy to use, and offers free creative templates for you to choose from. To get started, all you have to do is sign up!

You’re welcome to check out more valuable tips on menu design here.

Menu Updates Made Easy

Did we also mention that all changes across Menuzen menus update live?

With regular menu changes proving to be tedious and costly, Menuzen lets you update your menu online with the click of a button. After all, your menu should at least be updated every year (preferably, 2-3 times a year). By doing so, you can step back and assess food costs as well as the popularity of your menu items.

Create and design your free menu with Menuzen!