Restaurant Inventory: 10 Restaurant Inventory Management Essential Tips (2023)

In restaurant operations, if the backend of the business isn’t running properly, the front end–the customer service end–will soon follow along. Restaurant inventory management goes a long way to ensure the restaurant's backbone is strong. It’s one part of everything a restaurant needs to be successful.

Restaurant inventory is an integral part of a well-run restaurant. If the inventory program isn’t well-suited to the restaurant team, it can lead to issues down the line. If the inventory software in use is incompatible with, say, restaurant POS systems, that can cause problems with keeping everything on track.

There isn’t any unimportant part of a restaurant management system, but inventory is certainly one of the most important components. Today we’ll walk through the finer details of restaurant inventory, to give you the background you need to run a successful restaurant inventory program.

Restaurant Inventory Categories

Restaurant inventory can be broken down into categories to make the overall process more manageable. Depending on the structure of your inventory system, these categories may end up grouped together, or they may remain separate across teams and days. You may even find that not all of these categories apply to your restaurant. That’ll depend on your restaurant business plan and design. These are, however, all important to learn about for a well-rounded understanding of restaurant inventory.

These 10 categories cover all the potential areas of the restaurant. All these moving parts come together to make a great restaurant. When they’re well managed, the rest of the restaurant falls in line. Whether you’re personally looking after each section, or you have inventory teams, paying attention to each section is key to inventory management.

10. Menus

Inventory stock for menus includes everything from the creative needs for coming up with menu design to the paper for the menus. Part of your menu creation takes place outside of the restaurant. By that we mean the printing and manufacturing of your menus. That said, you’ll be keeping the products of the menus themselves at the restaurant, and you’ll need a tidy space for them.

(Video) Your Complete Guide To Restaurant Inventory Management

Menus are a small part of restaurant inventory stock, but they are integral to the restaurant overall. Keeping them counted, so you never have to worry about running out, will help you always achieve the best customer service.

9. Guest Comfort

Guest comfort and satisfaction is a huge part of your restaurant success. Inventory items related to guest comforts can include:

  • Extra chairs
  • Booster seats
  • Extra lighting
  • Children’s place mats

…and anything else you’d like to provide your guests with. This is a rather open-ended category for inventory. It’s all about the customers you would like to reach, and the atmosphere you’re aiming for with your restaurant. It’s best to have a plan for these guest comforts before you open the doors. This area of your budget and inventory could get out of control if you don’t have a firm hold on it.

8. Employee Support

As much as you need to support the comfort of your guests, you always need to think about your employees. Specifically, you need to plan for what will make their lives at work easier. As their boss, it is your first and foremost responsibility to make their work environment the best it can be.

Employee support items can be the best floor mats and gloves. It could also be a well structured break area with a couch and some snacks. Whatever it is, it’s an area of your restaurant that isn’t front-facing, but is vital to your overall success. If your employees aren’t having their needs met, you’ll end up needing to find new employees.

7. Beverages

Beverages cover a lot of your ingredients inventory count. From liquor to wine to beer brands to garnishes, you’ve got a lot of ground to cover. Even if you plan to keep your selection small, you’ll still put a large chunk of your budget into your beverage stock. Of course, that’s not to mention non-alcoholic beverages like mocktails and juices.

There are some key tips for keeping your beverage inventory organized and well-stocked. One of the most important is great shelving. From wine storage ideas to a space for kegs, keeping your space tidied up will help with every inventory count. Another tip is to keep an eye on what people are ordering the most. You can alter your inventory orders to fit customer choices.


6. Seasonal Ingredients

While seasonal ingredients won’t be a year-round inventory need, they are definitely products you need to factor into your inventory. From holiday dishes to summer cocktails, there are items you’ll need for specific times of the year.

When planning out your seasonal ingredients list for inventory, you can always lean into holidays and national celebrations for inspiration. This will help you stand out from other restaurants. From Earth Day to National Cocktail Day to International Bagpipe Day, there are plenty of days you can center some seasonal dishes around.

5. Dishes and Utensils

Dishes and utensils will be a constant need. Of course, you won’t need to buy a bunch of plastic and paper items. It won’t be a case of new dishes for every customer in that regard. You will, however, need to have fresh dishes for every table. Depending on how many tables you have available, and your open hours, that could easily get into the hundreds each night.

On top of the sheer number of dishes and utensils you need every day, you also have to factor in potential breakages and losses-to be recorded on a restaurant profit and loss statement. The dishes and utensils number can be consistent, but it needs to be on your inventory list.

4. Cleaning Supplies

In the entirety of your restaurant business, a running item on your inventory list will be cleaning supplies. From disinfectants to hand soap, you’ll have an extensive restaurant cleaning supplies list of items you need to keep your restaurant both sanitized and ready for customers.

Since most cleaning supplies don’t expire, you can do some bulk ordering for these inventory items. However, there will still be items you’ll need to get every few months. Buying from a wholesale marketplace is one of the best options for your cleaning supply needs.

3. Specialty Alcohol

Beyond your standard beverage options, having some higher end, specialty alcohol on hand will be helpful for some key clientele. You don’t need to stock your liquor shelves with everything from the top brands. However, a few high brow labels will be worth your while.

(Video) Restaurant Management Tip - What to Look for in Restaurant Inventory Software #restaurantsystems

If you have specialty cocktails with rum, or maybe a divine whiskey sour, you can invest in the best types of rum or whiskey. If you focus on gin drinks, you can dive into the world of types of gin. The main idea is, find the alcohol options you want to be able to offer, and give them a space in your inventory list.

2. Meal Prep Supplies

When we say meal prep supplies, we aren’t talking about ingredients for recipes–we’ll get to that next. These prep supplies are everything your chefs will need to mix up meals. This list can include:

  • Knives
  • Cutting boards
  • Skewers and toothpicks
  • Pots and pans
  • Baking trays
  • Mixing utensils
  • Towels
  • Blenders
  • Mixing bowls

Anything you’ll need to mix up the dishes you want to serve should be accounted for. You won’t need to constantly purchase this inventory, but it’ll be a substantial amount when you open your restaurant. There will also be replacements over time.

1. Staple Ingredients

Staple ingredients are in the number one spot because without them, you won’t have a running restaurant. Staple ingredients include everything from spices to cuts of meat. If you’re unsure where to start, you can make up a grocery list for the meals you want to serve. Then all you have to do is multiply it by the amount of people you have the capacity to serve.When you're ordering it, looking into flat rate shipping might be helpful.

Staple ingredients go together with several other items on this list to make up everything you need to keep your restaurant running smoothly. Though not everything here will apply to you, most of it will in some capacity.

Restaurant Inventory Management System

A restaurant inventory management system drives the restaurant forward with meal preparation, customer service, and organization. With the 10 above facets of restaurant inventory working together, a restaurant inventory management system can help in all areas of the restaurant business.

There are, of course, ways to make the process even more efficient. From technological support to mobile inventory management, inventory isn’t just about an inventory spreadsheet anymore.

(Video) The top 4 inventory software systems for restaurants 2021

Inventory management software can go a long way toward helping a restaurant maintain inventory structure. When it comes to great inventory management software, BinWise Pro and BlueCart make a great pair. BinWise gives you control over your liquor inventory, with BinScan mobile support. BlueCart optimizes your food ordering and organization, so you always have the ingredients you need.

How Do Restaurants Manage Inventory?

Restaurants manage inventory through a mix of physical work and technological support. A great beverage software program and food ordering system are both vital. However, great employees and a management staff who are working together are equally important. A restaurant inventory management system is only as strong and efficient as the team implementing the inventory process.

The most efficient restaurant inventory management systems rely on the best tech to make inventory simple for the team working to get it done. Restaurant inventory has so many facets to be checking, and so many numbers to crunch. A great software program lifts the weight off the shoulders of you and your employees. It gives you more time to focus on every other part of your restaurant.

Frequently Asked Questions About Restaurant Inventory

Restaurant inventory is one of the most important parts of running a successful restaurant. There will always be more you can learn about restaurant inventory, and these questions will help you along the way. Whether you’re just starting out or you’re refining your inventory practice, read on.

What is Inventory in a Restaurant?

Inventory in a restaurant is the tracking of every item coming in and going out of restaurant stock. It’s also the tracking of the restaurant budget in regard to inventory items. A quality restaurant inventory practice keeps the restaurant always well-stocked and financially stable.

Why is Inventory Important in a Restaurant?

Inventory is important in a restaurant because there are so many moving parts. Keeping track of inventory items and the budget keeps the whole process running smoothly. A hiccup in the inventory process can knock the entire restaurant off kilter. That’s why keeping inventory consistent is so important to a successful restaurant.

How Much Inventory Should a Restaurant Carry?

Typically, a restaurant should have enough inventory on hand at any given moment to cover around a week of sales. Having slightly over a week’s worth of inventory can be good as a backup. However, having too much surplus will lead to clutter and potential inventory waste. Having a solid reorder point and inventory tracking system, paired with a week of inventory on hand, will make for a good inventory system.

(Video) How to Lower Your Restaurant Inventory without Software

Restaurant Inventory: Running the Restaurant

Running a successful restaurant inventory management system is a key component of running a great restaurant. It’ll take time and effort to set up your inventory system, but once you find your groove it’ll ease every process. Come back to the BinWise blog for advice on inventory management and other restaurant business tips any time you need the extra hand.

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What is inventory management in a restaurant? ›

Restaurant inventory management is the process of tracking the ingredients coming in and out of your restaurant. Inventory control traces the amount of product ordered, everything that comes out of the kitchen and bar, and what is left over as sitting inventory afterward.

What are the inventories of a restaurant? ›

A restaurant inventory consists of all the items or raw materials required to prepare dishes, and a restaurant inventory management system helps you track each ingredient used in the recipe.

How do restaurants do daily inventory? ›

Knowing how to calculate your restaurant's average daily inventory cost is another way to make accurate purchasing decisions. To do so, simply divide your total inventory cost for that purchasing period by the number of days in that period. Your restaurant profit and loss statement should have the figures you need.

How do restaurants increase their inventory? ›

Best practices in restaurant inventory management
  1. Organize and plan. Organization is one of the most important aspects of being able to handle inventories rapidly. ...
  2. Monitor your stock. ...
  3. Consider a POS system. ...
  4. Use forecasting tools. ...
  5. Follow the FIFO method. ...
  6. Separate food waste. ...
  7. Analyze reports and data.
20 Oct 2021

What are the 4 types of inventory? ›

While there are many types of inventory, the four major ones are raw materials and components, work in progress, finished goods and maintenance, repair and operating supplies.

What are the 4 types of inventory management? ›

The 4 Types of Inventory Management

The types of inventory management are Raw Materials, Works-In-Process, Maintenance, Repair and Operations or MRO and Finished Goods.

What are the 9 types of inventory? ›

9 Inventory types: From raw materials to finished goods
  • Raw materials inventory. ...
  • Maintenance, Repair, and Operating (MRO) inventory. ...
  • Decoupling inventory. ...
  • Work In Progress (WIP) inventory. ...
  • Finished goods inventory. ...
  • Safety stock and other types of stock. ...
  • Packing materials inventory. ...
  • Pipeline (or in-transit) stock.
3 Dec 2021

Why is inventory important in a restaurant? ›

Inventory management helps restaurants keep the right amount of food and ingredients on hand so they have enough stock to serve all customers but also avoid spoilage and loss. Restaurants are more likely to find long-term success if they practice effective inventory management.

What are the 6 types of inventory? ›

The 6 Main classifications of inventory
  • transit inventory.
  • buffer inventory.
  • anticipation inventory.
  • decoupling inventory.
  • cycle inventory.
  • MRO goods inventory.
29 Sept 2020

What are different types of inventory? ›

The four types of inventory most commonly used are Raw Materials, Work-In-Process (WIP), Finished Goods, and Maintenance, Repair, and Overhaul (MRO). You can practice better inventory control and smarter inventory management when you know the type of inventory you have.

How do I organize my inventory? ›

  1. Use information labels and use photos of products.
  2. Store products sold together near each other.
  3. Keep best selling products close to the front.
  4. Make clear aisles throughout the warehouse.
  5. Stack inventory higher to make use of vertical space.
  6. Use mobile shelving units for seasonal products.
24 Oct 2022

Who is responsible for inventory in a restaurant? ›

While the restaurant owner or manager is likely the one responsible for ordering, each employee should report inventory needs and shortages to the restaurant management team. This reporting can be as simple as writing down low-stock supplies on an inventory sheet.

How much inventory should a restaurant have? ›

How much food inventory should a restaurant carry? You only need to have enough inventory to cover your sales, plus a little bit extra in case of an emergency. For most restaurants, this usually means about 5 - 7 days worth of inventory, if you're getting 1 - 2 deliveries per week.

What are the 13 types of inventory? ›

15 types of inventory
  • Finished goods. Finished goods are items that are completed and packaged for sale. ...
  • Work-in-progress inventory. Work-in-progress inventory includes items that are partially assembled. ...
  • Raw materials. ...
  • Safety stock. ...
  • Packing materials. ...
  • MRO supplies. ...
  • Smoothing inventory. ...
  • Decoupled inventory.

What are the 3 inventory methods? ›

There are three methods for inventory valuation: FIFO (First In, First Out), LIFO (Last In, First Out), and WAC (Weighted Average Cost).

Which inventory method is best? ›

The FIFO method is the most popular inventory method because it's the one that most closely matches the actual movement of inventory for most businesses. This method assumes that the first products you acquired will be the first that are sold.

What are the 8 functions of inventory? ›

Functions of Inventory Control:
  • To Develop Policies, Plans and Standards Required: ADVERTISEMENTS: ...
  • Effective Running of Stores: ...
  • Technological Responsibility for the State of Different Materials: ...
  • Stock Control System: ...
  • To Ensure the Timely Availability: ...
  • Maintenance of Specified Inputs: ...
  • Protection of Inventories: ...
  • Pricing:

What are the 2 methods of inventory control? ›

There are two key types of inventory control systems.
  • Perpetual inventory system. A perpetual inventory control system tracks inventory in real-time. ...
  • Periodic inventory system. A periodic inventory system is kept up to date by a physical count of goods on hand at specific intervals.

What are 10 raw materials? ›

Examples of raw materials include steel, oil, corn, grain, gasoline, lumber, forest resources, plastic, natural gas, coal, and minerals.

What is the inventory formula? ›

The first step to calculating beginning inventory is to figure out the cost of goods sold (COGS). Next, add the value of the most recent ending inventory and then subtract the money spent on new inventory purchases. The formula is (COGS + ending inventory) – purchases.

What are two types of inventory? ›

Two types of inventory are periodic and perpetual inventory. Both are accounting methods that businesses use to track the number of products they have available.

What is the main importance of inventory? ›

Regardless of the size of your company, having a proper inventory management system is very important for any business. It can help you keep track of all your supplies and determine the exact prices. It can also help you manage sudden changes in demand without sacrificing customer experience or product quality.

What are the 4 basic reasons for keeping an inventory? ›

The reasons for holding inventories can vary from case to case basis.
  • Meet variation in Production Demand. ...
  • Cater to Cyclical and Seasonal Demand. ...
  • Economies of Scale in Procurement. ...
  • Take advantage of Price Increase and Quantity Discounts. ...
  • Reduce Transit Cost and Transit Times.

What are the five functions of inventory? ›

The main functional aspects of inventory control system include:
  • specification of goods, their ID numbers and their types;
  • keeping information on goods serial numbers;
  • barcodes implementation and control;
  • ABC goods prioritizing;
  • replenishment process;
  • managing inventory lists;
  • real-life/real-time warehouse reports;
29 Mar 2021

What are the basics of inventory? ›

The most basic definition of inventory is the materials or “things” your business owns. These can be tangible (products and raw materials) or intangible (e.g., software). In most cases, when we refer to inventory, we simply mean all the materials the business has kept in stock—to sell.

What are inventory tools? ›

Inventory management tools and techniques
  • Barcode data collection. The perpetual inventory system is highly dependent on timely and accurate reporting. ...
  • Cycle counting to improve accuracy. ...
  • ABC analysis for prioritisation. ...
  • Integrated planning and execution. ...
  • Lot tracking and traceability.
19 Apr 2021

What is an inventory process? ›

Inventory management refers to the process of ordering, storing, using, and selling a company's inventory. This includes the management of raw materials, components, and finished products, as well as warehousing and processing of such items.

What inventory means? ›

Inventory refers to all the items, goods, merchandise, and materials held by a business for selling in the market to earn a profit.

What is the easiest way to manage inventory? ›

Here are some of the techniques that many small businesses use to manage inventory:
  1. Fine-tune your forecasting. ...
  2. Use the FIFO approach (first in, first out). ...
  3. Identify low-turn stock. ...
  4. Audit your stock. ...
  5. Use cloud-based inventory management software. ...
  6. Track your stock levels at all times. ...
  7. Reduce equipment repair times.
27 May 2021

What is an inventory checklist? ›

Inventory Checklist is a record of the items stored in a specific area or department of a company. It helps in tracking and controlling the goods in an organized way. This document can be also be used for inspection because all items in the inventory are recorded here.

What are the 6 steps in conducting an inventory? ›

  • Understand and characterize your demand. Inventory shortages or excess is the result of supply being out of sync with demand. ...
  • Characterize your supply and inventory costs. ...
  • Stratify your inventory. ...
  • Establish goals for each category and measure.
  • Develop a process to track and.
  • Refine goals and adjust processes.

What is inventory in F&B service? ›

An inventory is everything that is found within your establishment. Produce, dry stores, pots and pans, uniforms, liquor, linens, or anything that costs money to the business should be counted as part of inventory. Kitchen items should be counted separately from the front of house and bar inventory and so forth.

How often should a restaurant do inventory? ›

To ensure you can gain actionable insights into restaurant inventory and avoid weekly changes in seasonality, consider doing two inventories for weeks that are split between two months. The first would be done on the last day of the month and the second would be done at the end of the week.

What is meant by inventory management? ›

Inventory management, a critical element of the supply chain, is the tracking of inventory from manufacturers to warehouses and from these facilities to a point of sale. The goal of inventory management is to have the right products in the right place at the right time.

What is inventory management? ›

Inventory refers to all the items, goods, merchandise, and materials held by a business for selling in the market to earn a profit. Example: If a newspaper vendor uses a vehicle to deliver newspapers to the customers, only the newspaper will be considered inventory.

What is inventory management example? ›

Some of these management methods include just-in-time (JIT) manufacturing, materials requirement planning (MRP), economic order quantity (EOQ), and days sales of inventory (DSI).

What is the purpose of inventory management? ›

The primary purpose of inventory management is to ensure there is enough goods or materials to meet demand without creating overstock, or excess inventory.

What is the best inventory method? ›

First In, First Out (FIFO)

The FIFO method is the most popular inventory method because it's the one that most closely matches the actual movement of inventory for most businesses. This method assumes that the first products you acquired will be the first that are sold.

What is the best way to manage inventory? ›

Inventory management techniques and best practices for small business
  1. Fine-tune your forecasting. ...
  2. Use the FIFO approach (first in, first out). ...
  3. Identify low-turn stock. ...
  4. Audit your stock. ...
  5. Use cloud-based inventory management software. ...
  6. Track your stock levels at all times. ...
  7. Reduce equipment repair times.
27 May 2021

What are 5 types of inventory? ›

Depending on the business, inventory can include raw materials, component parts, work in progress, finished goods, or any packaging.
  • Raw materials inventory. ...
  • Maintenance, Repair, and Operating (MRO) inventory. ...
  • Decoupling inventory. ...
  • Work In Progress (WIP) inventory. ...
  • Finished goods inventory.
3 Dec 2021

What are types of inventory? ›

The four types of inventory most commonly used are Raw Materials, Work-In-Process (WIP), Finished Goods, and Maintenance, Repair, and Overhaul (MRO). You can practice better inventory control and smarter inventory management when you know the type of inventory you have.

What are the 3 types of inventory? ›

There are three general categories of inventory, including raw materials (any supplies that are used to produce finished goods), work-in-progress (WIP), and finished goods or those that are ready for sale.

What are the 8 inventory management techniques? ›

8 common inventory management techniques
  • Just-in-time (JIT) inventory. JIT involves holding as little stock as possible, negating the costs and risks involved with keeping a large amount of stock on hand.
  • ABC inventory analysis. ...
  • Dropshipping. ...
  • Bulk shipments. ...
  • Consignment. ...
  • Cross-docking. ...
  • Cycle counting.

What is the most important role of inventory manager? ›

Inventory Managers are responsible for maintaining daily records of products and shipments to identify what needs to be ordered versus what is available in stock.


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