How to Buy Bulk Foods for a Restaurant

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When you run a restaurant of any sort, of course you want to buy your food in bulk; you'll need to know how to buy the best of these bulk items so your customers are happy with your food and its taste. You'll also need to know how to store these items so they last as long as possible. Note a few tips in this regard.

1. Canned versus fresh

Fresh food items usually taste the best and will often look the best as well, whereas canned items may be limp and even discoloured from the water and preservatives added. Choose fresh foods when you want to serve them with few seasonings or on their own, such as for salads.

However, fresh food items need the most room for storage and you may have laws and regulations to consider when it comes to storing those fresh items. You might need a larger refrigerator or cool room for such foods, so don't expect to purchase everything fresh. Canned foods are good if you're going to mash them with butter or oils or cook them with other seasonings that will enhance what flavour is lost in the canning process.

2. Frozen

As with canned foods, frozen foods may lose some flavour as they absorb the moisture of the ice that forms on them. Don't assume you can just thaw out vegetables and other such frozen foods and serve them fresh; as with canned items, frozen items are good for when you'll cook them and add seasoning, or are adding the frozen items to other dishes, such as mixing tomatoes into a sauce.

Frozen items are also good for when you need to cut down on food prep time. For example, getting frozen potatoes that are already peeled can mean less prep time even for mashed potatoes, or peeled tomatoes can be used for those sauces. The investment of a larger freezer can be worth that time your staff saves when foods are already slightly prepped for cooking.

3. Know your food prep!

Prepping food for a restaurant is different than cooking at home, so be sure you know the food prep needed for every type of dish. Bulk beans may be dried, so they need to be soaked for several hours before they can be cooked. Some commercial bulk potatoes come ready, cut and peeled, but if you buy those that are not peeled, they may need to go through your slicer if they have eyes and roots still attached. Be sure you and your kitchen staff know what's involved in prepping bulk food items before you buy, so you can choose what works best for your restaurant.