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Food Cost Management (AvT)

Control food costs and boost profits across every store

Crunchtime food cost video

Minimize the difference between actual and theoretical food costs

74% of operators aim to reduce actual food costs over the next 12+ months, according to the 2023 Restaurant Operations Report

Managing costs is an ongoing challenge for most restaurants. Crunchtime provides restaurants with a robust set of tools to effectively lower food costs, reduce the difference between actual costs and theoretical costs, and alleviate the burdens of inventory — all in one platform.

Easily monitor and reduce your food cost variance

Multi-unit restaurants can add thousands and even millions of dollars to their bottom line by carefully monitoring their food cost variances and fixing any profit leaks. Managers can easily understand and track their actual vs. theoretical variances (AvT) each time they open the dashboard.

crunchtime food cost management avt software screenshot

Accurately track waste and respond quickly to issues

Waste is a common area of profit loss in many restaurants. Crunchtime empowers managers to accurately track waste and quickly identify operational issues like incorrect recipe preparation, portioning, spoilage, or theft.

crunchtime food waste management software screenshot

Identify your most profitable (or costly) menu items

Always be aware of the highest and lowest margin items on your menu. Crunchtime's menu mix tools make it easy to analyze and cost your menu for maximum profitability and satisfied guests.

Crunchtime food cost management menu management software screenshot

Eliminate costly errors when receiving goods and invoicing 

Quickly receive goods at the point of delivery and accurately count each item with an easy-to-use mobile app. Immediately address any price discrepancies, and if the goods arrive damaged, unusable, or just the wrong item, you can quickly resolve the vendor dispute and add pictures from your device’s camera. 

crunchtime food cost management error reduction screenshot

Food costs are 35% of revenue, on average, for multi-unit restaurants*

Fewer locations can mean even higher food costs, with the expectation that costs will come down as the number of stores increases.
*2023 Restaurant Operations Report

Food Cost Percentage Based on Number of Stores Operated


Learn how top brands like Five Guys, Jersey Mike’s, and sweetgreen use Crunchtime to achieve ops excellence.

crunchtime product tour restaurant software webinar image

"Crunchtime has the strongest food cost system in the industry, and the Actual versus Theoretical is probably the best in its class. Everyone uses that — it’s wonderful."

Regina Jerome
Senior Vice President of Information Technology 
Uno Pizzeria & Grill

Read the case study


crunchtime customer uno pizzeria restaurant case study

Food Cost Management FAQs

What are actual versus theoretical food costs (AvT)?

Actual vs. theoretical food cost variance is a cost control methodology that restaurants use to help keep their food costs in check. The “actual food cost” is the total cost of all the food used to produce meals sold during the week, after you’ve accounted for any breakage, shrinkage, or waste. “Theoretical food cost” is what a restaurant’s food costs should be, based on current inventory costs of all ingredients for the meals sold, assuming perfect portions, no breakage, and no shrinkage. The difference between the two is the actual vs. theoretical (AvT) variance. Reducing this variance to its lowest possible point (0%) is the goal in optimizing your restaurant’s food costs. 

What information or tools are required to determine actual vs. theoretical food costs?
  • Accurate local market pricing for all ingredients.
  • Accurate beginning and ending inventory count to determine usage.
  • Accurate ingredient amounts are specified for all recipes.
  • A system for accurately recording waste
  • A system for capturing, in real-time, recipes sold and their associated ingredients’ costs (and for depleting from inventory the individual ingredients)

With the above information, Crunchtime automatically calculates your AvT and clearly displays the metric on your dashboard. This keeps managers informed and prepared to make smarter decisions around profitability.

How do I track the cost and profitability of each menu item?

To determine the cost and profitability of each menu item, Crunchtime calculates the combined cost of each raw ingredient used (excluding labor costs). This cost can subsequently be subtracted from the menu item’s sales to determine the contribution margin or gross profit of the menu item. 

Crunchtime automatically calculates this number for your restaurant, and even provides a Menu Engineering Analysis report to help take the guesswork out of categorizing menu items and ensure you're only selling products that are profitable and loved by your guests.

How do I track the cost of specific restaurant products?

Each time you purchase an item from a vendor, the cost should be entered into the system. With Crunchtime’s automated ordering and receiving of goods, this process is quick and seamless—when new shipments arrive, the platform will automatically enter the new goods into inventory with the receiver's approval.