Best Practices for Efficient Central Kitchens
As school nutrition changes and regulations become increasingly strict, school districts have looked for ways to consolidate their operations while elevating their meals. Enter central kitchens, where all school meals are prepared and transported to schools for portioning, heating, and serving (FIG, 2018). From cost savings and improved quality control to enhanced menu variety and scalability that produces more with labor, central kitchens have revolutionized the way meals are prepared, distributed, and enjoyed by students. Although helpful, they can be tricky to manage. Here are a few best practices for a central kitchen and how PrimeroEdge’s Central Production module helps you achieve them.
1. Start with a Plan – a Production Plan
Like with any kitchen, the first step in creating your production plan is knowing what you needt or have to work with. A good tip from Aramark is to plan meals around government-funded commodity ingredients, such as ground beef and flour, to save money and help manage the dining budget. Since Central Production integrates with the Menu Planning module, it’s easy to configure the quantities and servings you need to prepare from your approved recipes.
Organization is a must when it comes to large scale production. Setting up “departments” for categories like bakery goods or vegetables can help make your production operation more manageable and equipped to handle changes. Assigning different food items for production keeps track of ingredients and plans. PrimeroEdge even has the option to transfer items between departments as needed, helping you control inventory levels and save time.
Another time saver is having an updated calendar to reference. You’ll always know your schedule and can view your required production. Central Production simplifies this by allowing you to easily add items, manage assigned/planned quantities, and the system will automatically calculate the raw materials required to remove the guesswork. However you decide to manage your calendar, something easy to update and understand will show where each department is in the production process.
2. Consolidate Your Deliveries
A vital part of smooth operations is guaranteeing meals on time, every time, without spending unnecessary time in the distribution process. Similar to how you would order inventory from your vendors, your district’s centrally produced items can be configured with delivery lead times, helping sites know when to have their production plans completed. PrimeroEdge then shows the items and batches that are approved and ready for distribution with one click. Completed productions and updated totals of produced items are instantly added to the Central Warehouse system to get routed for delivery. Orders can be consolidated with central warehouse orders by site, delivery date, and route to streamline your distribution process even further.
3. Maintain High Standards and Accountability
Consistency is key for food safety, a well-trained staff, and any process that encourages efficiency. That’s why Central Production integrates with the Central Warehouse module for advanced reporting that ensures accountability in your central kitchen.
- Generate Shipping Reports based off of Item and Site, Item and Category, or Item, and Site and Route
- View discrepancies in the Issues vs Received report for analyzing distribution adjustments
- Access detailed inventory lists for each school site, or central warehouse and central production facilities
- Print Physical Inventory Worksheets to assist with accurate counting and tracking
These reports show how you maintain consistency, meet high standards, and drive efficiency, so you can be empowered to keep envisioning and implementing improvements to your operations.
Integrated with the Central Warehouse and Inventory modules, Central Production makes it easy to manage finished goods, plan productions, and coordinate delivery of your centrally produced items in PrimeroEdge. Learn more here. If you don’t have a central kitchen, but want to learn more about the benefits and use cases, review the sources below.
Feasability Study: https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5a34179bd0e62852ac16791a/t/5d681d82e683a900014df8d8/1567104417026/DPS+Central+Kitchen+Background+Report
Case Study: https://www.thelunchbox.org/management/central-kitchens#:~:text=Increased%20meal%20consistency%20and%20quality,food%20waste%20through%20bulk%20production