Purchasing Strategies – Supporting menu choice
Dr Karen Abbey PhD Church Resources Foodservice Ambassador explains why providing choice is essential when planning menus for aged care residents.
Procurement is the overall term used for purchasing. Purchasing strategies for menu planning is the buying of food items to plan meals, within budget and to meet the expectation of your residents.
Purchasing of food can range from fresh foods/chill or frozen, to ready prepared meals or component ingredients, which can be assembled into meals. Menu planning is the process of deciding how many choices of food will be offered throughout the day.
Procurement and menu planning support each other. It is the type of procurement strategies around food production which will determine how many choices can be offered on a menu.
Providing choice is essential when planning menus for aged care. Food choice is important as it allows residents to be engaged with meal services. It has been shown through studies that residents will eat more food when they can choose what they want to eat and the amount of food to be eaten.
Therefore leading to less food waste and increased resident satisfaction with meal services. We all like to have power over what we eat. Daily we make a decision about our food choices and this does not stop when residents enter an aged care home. We also all have food likes and dislikes making up our food preferences which are built over a lifetime, and it is through these processes that we choose the food that we eat.
Our choice of food is also influenced by how the meal is presented, the colour combination on the plate, and how it appeals to our eyes. Often we can change our minds about foods just by how they are presented.
Engaging residents during the meals service can be done in a couple of ways, either by asking them directly or providing a meal delivery system where residents can help themselves. Self-serve meal systems includes the use or trollies or buffet carts so that residents can see the selections.
The use of stationary buffet food bars where residents can help themselves and by putting down choices onto the table and residents can again help themselves. Engaging residents in the meal process is essential from menu planning the types of meals cooked to communicating the menu composition in dining rooms.
The use of food manufacturing products can help to prepare meals to meet menu expectation. For those residents who need a texture modified meal, allergen/intolerance meal or require culturally and religions meals, the use of ready-made meals or utilising production strategies such as cook-chill or cook-frozen will allow extra meals to be produced or held to be used on another menu day. This allows an increase menu choice and flexibility.
Therefore having a range of purchasing strategies is important and to ensure that purchasing is controlled having a good procurement process is essential.
Utilising a range of procurement strategies when ordering food not only to benchmark food costs for potential cost savings, but also to enable productions to be flexible, which will meet the growing expectations of what residents have when it comes to menus and meal services. Aggregated Procurement or Group Buying services such as the ones Church Resources provides support foodservices in aged care to source best pricing for potential budget savings.
To contact Dr Karen Abbey: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you would like to discuss your procurement strategies with Church Resources contact Iain Birrell email@example.com
To find out more about the Excellence in Foodservice Community Program for nutrition, foodservice webinars and menu planning ideas from the CR kitchen visit www.churchresources.com.au