Grocery Savings Through Portion Control

by Mess Sgt. John Harris

Portion control is a budgetary method to determine as closely as possible how much food will be needed to feed a certain amount of people for a certain amount of time.

As an example, there are eight people to feed, one of the main entrees for a particular day is meat loaf. As a rule of thumb each person is allowed 4 oz of meat. This would take 2 lbs. of ground round @ $1.59 per pound. The amount allotted in the budget for this particular item is $3.18. Extrapolate this amount per person for each menu item per person per day, and you will come up with a figure for food purchases to feed this amount of people for however long the budget is planned for.

The primary step is to plan meals using the allotted amount per person (aka "portion control" to arrive at the amount needed to budget for the food to buy. The next step is learning how to increase and decrease recipes to arrive at the amounts needed, to stay within the budget. This also eliminates waste, a large cause of deficit spending.

This is not theory. This method has been used by both caterers and the Military for ages where batch or institutional food preparation is standard operational procedure. Any successful caterer uses portion control and the Army would have to answer to Congress if it didn't use it.

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Mess Sgt. John Harris is retired USMC and a graduate of LeNicole Culinary Arts School, Baltimore MD.

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