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The creation of food menus and the associated budgets can be a mammoth task, particularly for those organisations where there is a requirement to provide different meal options each day or across multi-sites.  For example, schools and care homes, where there is a need to provide high quality and nutritionally balanced meals, yet within a defined budget.

Creating seasonal, rotational menu cycles, keeping in mind portion control and ‘cost per head’ when food costs can change by the day, is a challenge. When it comes to budgeting, schools and care homes typically work with predetermined spending targets, so fluctuations can be tricky to keep on top of.

Schools often have an annual spend total to work within, while care homes base their budget on a cost ‘per resident per day’. However, both scenarios require visibility and structure to ensure that menus align with budget constraints and meet the all-important quality expectations.

So, what is the solution?

Pelican’s online procurement system, Pi, includes a comprehensive Menu Management platform. Users can build recipes, manage prices, access allergen and nutritional information, and obtain real-time costings for all food lines, as the system uses data from the live supplier invoice price lists.

Catering teams can easily share all the details in several ways with their staff and customers. But that is not all! The menu management platform also includes the Menu Cycles tool, which offers a powerful menu planning solution.

Here are a handful of advantages Pi’s menu management platform offers:

Real-Time Pricing

In a volatile market, food prices can fluctuate with little or no notice, making menu budgeting difficult to keep on top of.  Menu Cycles allow caterers to have complete visibility of price fluctuations on the agreed product lists. With real-time pricing, it means caterers can adjust recipes with suggested product substitutions without having to deviate from the agreed menu.

Dietary Requirements

Menu Cycles empower schools and care homes to meet essential dietary requirements, cost targets, and nutritional guidelines effortlessly. By providing accurate daily cost forecasts, both schools and care homes can optimise their menu composition.

Schools, for instance, can ensure compliance with School Food Standards to ensure children benefit from a healthy, balanced diet – ie. providing a portion of meat or poultry three or more days each week, reducing food with high fat, sugar, salt content, etc.

Care homes face the additional challenge of accommodating multiple meal times throughout the day and special dietary needs. However, Menu Cycles help caterers create well-rounded menus while considering all of these specific factors.

Efficient Review and Approval Process

The platform includes a traffic light system that provides an instant overview of spending levels, allowing caterers to make necessary adjustments to meet budgetary targets. For example, if Tuesday is more expensive than originally budgeted due to a special birthday meal, you can tweak menus elsewhere.

Additionally, if multiple chefs are involved, Pelican Pi’s menu cycle templates facilitate collaboration by allowing chefs to incorporate their own approved recipes. This streamlined workflow ensures consistent quality across multiple locations, allowing menus to be centrally reviewed and approved at all times.

Standardisation and Control

For organisations operating across multiple sites, the system ensures standardisation and quality consistency. By starting with central planning and costings, caterers get the best of both worlds: creating individual menus that suit each location’s specific needs while maintaining quality and adhering to budget constraints. This level of control is significant for care home caterers, as the dining experience is considered a highlight for many residents.

What is clear is that Pi’s Menu management system provides a helping hand to all caterers looking for support in balancing menu creation and budgets.

Having a technology platform intelligently supporting real-time pricing, accurate allergen and nutritional value data, and the ability to create fully costed recipes offer great peace of mind to all – from the chefs to finance teams. Pi’s online menu management system empowers caterers to work smarter, creating well-balanced menus while maintaining financial sustainability – without the stress!

Book your Pi demo

Want to make your menu management easier? Contact our friendly team at to book your demo, and we will show you all the features and benefits you can enjoy.

Note: the Pi system is provided complimentary to all Pelican clients, and it comes with training, support and system management.

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