Associate An Ingredient To A Menu Item

Connecting the ingredients you buy to the items you sell is the best way to get an accurate picture of ideal food cost.

Keep in mind, this step is not essential for use of the inventory system. Many restaurant operations estimate ideal food cost using the "Category Targets" and/or "Usage Per Thousand" figures, without tracking ingredients for every individual item sold. Learn more about these methods.

If you do want to tell the system which ingredients to deduct when a menu item is ordered, you must associate ingredients to your menu items.

Simple Example: Item with No Size

Let’s start with a simple item example. Navigate to Manager Home > Configuration > Items

Choose an item which does not have a size option. Perhaps an appetizer—we’ll choose “Breadsticks”. From Configuration / Items, expand the department hierarchy until you see the name of the item, touch it and select “Edit”. Select the link for “Ingredients”.


You will now see the ingredient matrix for this item.


Now you can select each individual ingredient from the drop down list and indicate the amount to deduct when “Breadsticks” are ordered. Don’t worry about the “Base Item” field for now. You’ll see as you select ingredients and enter quantity, the total item cost and item margin information is calculated. Save the ingredient screen when you are done!

Important Tip!   Don’t select an ingredient here for anything that can be removed or added while ordering.  If a topping or modifier is listed as an inclusion, we’ll set that up later.  For example, in the above picture - if the “Garlic Dip Sauce” was optional and sometimes modified or substituted, we would not want to enter it here - it will be an inclusion.   The only ingredients you should enter here are those that absolutely always are used on this item no matter what.  (If they vary by order type . . .stay tuned, we’ll get to that!)

Setting Category Defaults

Now that you understand how to enter ingredients for a basic item, it’s time to consider setting some defaults at the category level to make all this set up more efficient. You can edit the category by selecting the category name and choosing “Edit”. Any ingredients you add at the category level will automatically appear for every item currently in that category, or any new item added to that category. You can then edit the individual items to add new ingredients, delete a certain ingredient, or change the quantity of any ingredients. If you edit the ingredients at the category level, those edits will be reflected at the item level also. However, if you previously changed the quantity at the item level, that ingredient will no longer be tied to the category and will not be updated.

Example:   If all your sandwiches use the same bread, and come in a container with a pickle on the side, you could set up these ingredients at the category level.

Understanding Sizes

Now let’s try setting up ingredients for an item or category which has various size and style options. The size and style options are configured at the Department level. Here’s an example of how “Gourmet Pizza” is set up—with 3 size options and 2 crust options.


Now, the inventory ingredients screen for the “Specials” category within this department shows a column for each size and crust combination. The “Abbreviated name” is used for each size and style. For example, the first cell “SM:TK” refers to a Small, Thick crust pizza. Then we have SM:TN (Small Thin), MD:TK, MD:TN, LG:TK and LG:TN.


Setting up the ingredients is simple. Just select from the drop down list and enter the quantity for each size/ style combination. Don’t forget to save!

What is a Base Item?

The “Base Item” field is used to indicate that certain ingredients are only used if the item is considered the “Base Item” in the order. This is related to “make your own” items which use toppings and fractional orders. This concept is best explained through an example.


Let’s look at the item ‘Pepperoni’ which is in our pizza category. Pepperoni is considered a “Topping” item which means it can be added to a specialty pizza OR ordered alone. The ingredients for Pepperoni are defined below. The ingredients Cheese, Dough, and Sauce have the “Base Item” checked. This means they should only be deducted if Pepperoni is the base item of the order (i.e. a Pepperoni Pizza). They will not be deducted if Pepperoni is added to another item (like a Combo) since the Combo presumably already has Cheese, Dough and Sauce. In general, when setting up items which are toppings, or when setting up items which can be ordered as 1/2 and 1/2, you should check the “Base Item” box for everything but the topping itself.

If you use a "BYO" or a "Cheese" pizza for every build-your-own base, you don't have to worry about entering base ingredients on any toppings, as they will never be ordered alone.

Inclusions and Requirements

Understanding Inclusions: Many items in your system are set up with “Inclusions”. This causes other item buttons to light up on the screen when ordered. For example, your “Combo” pizza may include Pepperoni, Onions, Salami and Mushrooms. If the inclusions are defined for a specialty item, you do not need to add these ingredients in the inventory set up.


As long as the “Pepperoni” topping has its ingredients defined, the proper amount will be deducted whenever Pepperoni is included on your specialty pizzas. Thus, for most of your specialty pizzas and sandwiches, you will only need to set up the base item ingredients such as dough, cheese and sauce. To change how much Pepperoni will be deducted, you can click the “Inclusion Usage” button. It will default to the “normal” amount, but you can modify it to be more or less here.


Tip:  It’s a good idea to enter the ingredients for your topping items first, that way when you get to your specialties, the inclusions will already be set up.

Understanding Requirements

Requirements are the pop up boxes that allow the user to make a choice when the item is ordered. For instance, if your Salad has a choice of dressing, it is using a requirement.


Just like inclusions, if the requirement choice is an item with inventory ingredients defined, the proper deduction will be made based on which requirement was chosen. Requirements pop ups can also use messages, which do not result in an inventory deduction. So if you want to deduct inventory for your salad dressing, you’ll need to make sure that the requirement pop up is linked to Salad Dressing items and not messages. A good indication of this would be that the Configuration/Messages list does not include any salad dressings, whereas the Items hierarchy does. If you aren’t sure about this, contact Technical Support for assistance.

Usage by Order Type and by Topping Count are advanced features.  Read More about them here.

Save your changes on the ingredient screen, and move on to the next item!




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