Rockit Bar & Grill
use of broccoli stems and vegetable stock,
and to thicken, he sometimes uses leftover
mashed potatoes rather than cornstarch.
The vegetarian patty developed by James Gottwald goes over well at Rockit Bar &
Grill, selling as many as 300 a week.
Gottwald believes soup is the most
economical item to include on a menu.
“Some will say salads are the least
expensive, but the greens I buy are
expensive,” he says. Each day, the
restaurants feature a different soup.
Turkey chili, French onion, potato cheese
and butternut squash are among the
Waste not. Find a dish, sauce or method to
incorporate bits and pieces you’d otherwise
toss. For Goss, vegetable purées or mashes
are a great way to use carrots, potatoes,
rutabagas or cauliflower. “Don’t throw away
stems. Use them as part of the purée. Then
fold in some chunks of something else, like
mushrooms, but use the whole vegetable,”
money off it because of the presentation
with the puff pastry,” she says.
Jazz up classics. If you’re making
macaroni and cheese, stay with the
low-cost theme and don’t add truffles
and lobster, Kelty says. Instead, think
of different cheeses you could use or
Goss can plan meals for four days,
beginning with an inexpensive whole
roasted pork shoulder. The first day, it
stands on its own, perhaps with a dry
rub or marinated with rosemary, roasted
garlic, mustard, salt and pepper, roasted
until tender and then sliced and served
with mashed potatoes. The next night
could focus on a tasty choucroute mixed
with bits and pieces of the pork shoulder.
Night three could feature curried lentil
or cauliflower soup with shredded pork
shoulder. And the last night could star
empanadas with goat cheese, pork
shoulder pieces combined with raisins
for sweetness, and some fresh thyme,
rolled in a phyllo pastry and baked.
In her beef pot pie, McBride uses beef
scraps along with such vegetables as
cipollini, squash and kale. She adds
a puff pastry “lid” to it. “The amount
of meat is only 3-4 oz., so it’s not
expensive, and you can make some
The Magic Kingdom has gone the distance
with hot dogs. “They are such a food-cost
winner,” says Deardorff. He looked for
ways to increase the value and came up
with the idea of topping them with other
favorite items, such as Philly cheese steak,
Reuben ingredients, taco fixings and
barbeque pork. “It didn’t increase our cost
much, but the perceived value to the guest
was great, and we can get a higher check
average for that item,” he adds.
Plan with leftovers. “Provided they
are handled safely and refrigerated, we
look at leftovers as product to use,” says
Babbage. Cream of broccoli soup makes
With risotto, Goss might form leftovers
into patties, make a hole in the center
and fill it with goat cheese, then coat the
patties with flour and breadcrumbs, and
sauté. She might serve them with a small
arugula salad with toasted hazelnuts or
With a little imagination and skill, low-cost
cooking can become second nature.
Jody Shee, an Olathe, Kan.-based
freelance writer and editor, previously was
editor of a foodservice magazine. She has
20 years of food-writing experience and
writes the blog www.sheefood.com.