35 Portion Control

N. Chellam

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Quantity food production in every food service requires a constant support of the reputed customers. Every customer of a food service establishment expects a good service for the money paid. Unequal treatment of customers nay result them in frustration and establish a negative impression about the organization. In a commercial establishment if one person is served with larger portion than the man who is sitting next to him, there may be a strong negative opinion about the reputation of the establishment. This kind of impression may seriously end up in a depression in the growth of the establishment. Hence exercising portion will support the establishment a better customer satisfaction and good will.




From this lesson you will be able to learn the

  • Importance of portion control in a food service establishment
  • Methods of practicing portion control effectively
  • Contradictions of inefficient portion control

2.      What is portion control?


Portion control is a practice that is exercised over the amount and size of food served to the customer in a food service establishment in order to ensure uniformity in cost, calories and nutritional value. Simply it is exercising control over the amount and size of a portion of a food to be served to a customer.


3.   Need for portion control in a food service establishment


Portion control is complementary tool to the management and the need for this form of control comes from both sides of the business-from the caterer and from his customers


From the organization’s point of view, portion control does not necessarily mean a smaller portion with the low quality of food, in order to stay within the budget. At the same time, it cannot be a scrapping off of the head of management by giving liberal quantities to keep up the customer’s good will. So, Uniform portion based on weight and measure will prevent waste of monitory investments and thus it’s a complementary to the caterer.


On the other hand, from a customer’s view point, there is a natural tendency for client to pork an eye over the others portion when they are served and if one is thought to be the best. It occurs very commonly because no one likes to receive a smaller portion than the other customers for the same amount of money. Only exact portion control can eliminate this kind of problem. Hence portion control is a basic need of an establishment to achieve better patron satisfaction and financial turn over.


Accuracy in the use of standardized recipe helps in portion control. Portion control of recipes in any establishment especially commercial is very essential to maintain and create satisfaction among the customers. All patrons expect the same size of a product as the other person is getting and the same size of a recipe is not controlled.


4.  Purpose of portion control Objectives of portion control include

  •  To ensure fair portions for each customer to maintain goodwill among client.
  • To ensure fair portion for fair price.
  • To see that the purchases are utilized to the fullest possible without wastage.
  •  To control waste while preparing dishes.
  • To control food cost.
  • To obtain the estimated number of servings so as to avoid loss

  5.   What is a standard portion?


A standard portion is the quantity of a particular food item that will be served to the customer. The portion size can be established by the management in consultation with the head chef and restaurant manager.


6.   How to establish portion control?


There are several ways and means by which portion control can be established successfully. They are,


6.1 Effective purchasing: Buying is an important element of quantity food management. It is the process of searching, choosing and procuring food materials required for the establishment. Portion control starts from the point of procuring appropriate food materials mentioned in the standard purchase specification. Hence accurate specifications must be made to full fill the portion control. While buying the products must be ordered in numbers and counts that can facilitate portion control. Vigilant control is essential at the receiving point where in the foods must be check thoroughly across the purchase order to avoid wastage and portion loss. Even before it reaches the kitchen for production it can be properly assorted to enhance better management of portion.


6.2. Using standardized recipe: Standardized recipe is always essential to exercise portion control because it will offer accurate methodology of making and serving dishes that helps to avoid wastage and inefficient portioning. Accuracy in the use of standardized recipe helps in portion control. Portion control of recipes in any establishment especially commercial is very essential to maintain and create satisfaction among the customers. All patrons expect the same size of a product as the other person is getting and the same size of a recipe is not controlled. Accurate number of portion and the size only catches the good will of the individual . Standardised recipe is a provisionally developed formula by the individual establishment after taking several attempts of repeated trial. This will produce the best required results in quality and quantity at any required production. When standardized recipes are produced by an establishment they are tested for all possible results of accurate portion size and numbers. Hence, using standardized recipe would be an ideal deal to execute necessary portion control of a recipe..


6.3. Using portion control equipments: The third important technique of establishing portion controls to serve foods using standard utensils such as ladles, scoops, spoons, and other standardized equipments. Some of the commonly used equipments are,


6.3.1. Standard sized pans: Generally cakes, breads and meat loaf pans are used as standardized equipments. These are used to cut and portion the whole lot of food. These are used to cut and portion the whole lot of food.


6.3.2. Ladles: These are widely used equipments in all types of food service establishments invariably to the region. Soups, sauces, gravies, creamed dishes and raitas are served using this equipment. These are the most convenient and commonly available equipment applicable to several dishes. Most frequently used sizes are 2 ounce (1/4 cups), 4 ounce (1/2 cup), 6 ounce (3/4 cup and 8 ounce (1cup).


6.2.3. Serving spoons: Solid and perforated spoons are used to portion the solid dishes such as rice, pasta and other solid stuff. Actually they are not very accurate portion controllers but if the weight of each measure is decided in advance will help control portion quickly. To rectify this problem, nowadays spoodles are available. They are spoons with a measuring bowl attached on the head.


6.2.4. Scoops: Scoops are commonly seen equipment to measure ice creams, puddings and, vegetables, salads and sandwich fillings. These are available in the market as numbered on the rim. These numbers indicate the measures of scoop in conversion with a reference table. For example scoop number 6 indicates 2/3 cup whereas number 16 is ¼ cup.


Standard Reference Table of Scoop Measures


   6.2.5. Portion Scales: These are important for the cooks and servers to check the serving size of plated meat or vegetables. These play very important role in all the important areas of food production cycle such as receiving the purchased goods, storage of raw materials, while issuing ingredients for production, pre -preparation of materials, final production and food service at the dining. Event it is important for a seller to send the exact quantity ordered by the food service establishment. Not like home production scales do serve its major role on quantity and quality control of the foods prepares and served by the organization.


6.2.6. Cutting markers are used to cut cakes, pies in bakery units. In large scale, expandable cutters are used. These are rolling pin that has cutters on the rolling surface. These cut the cookies uniformly as well as quickly.


6.2.7. Slicers are valuable piece of equipments to ensure portion control because it can slice more evenly and uniformly than can be done by hand. Generally meat slicers are used to slice meat. Automatic slicers are available for large scale production of bakery products like cakes and breads. Egg slicers are well known for its clean and attractive slicing ability. Handy slicing device is used in food service establishments with adjustable blades attached with it as per the requirements of the portion. Fully automatic slicers are also available to cut down the labour cost at industrial level production. Slicers are mostly used for slicing meat and poultry. Vegetables, cheese, dough, baked products and other such items are also sliced using proper slicers. Sliced food always incorporates an equal portion and encourages portion control well.


6.2.8. Apart from all these, cups, glasses, moulds, and bowls are also used for portion control.


6.4. Additional tips: Measures and their equivalents are to be well informed to the chefs and servers for effective portion control. Otherwise recommended portion control charts and conversion tables must be affixed somewhere near the portioning are for accurate checking.


3 teaspoons = 1Tablespoon


16  Teaspoons=1Cup 2 Cups= 1Pint


2  Pints-1Quart


4 Quarts=1 Gallon


16 ounce = 1 Pound


The accuracy with which portions are measured will depend on the catering situation. For instance, foods and ingredients would have to be actually weighed accurately if the catering is done for hospital patients on special diets, whereas, for normal people, suitable standard sized equipment may be used to regulate the size of portions


7.   Methods of monitoring portion control


Portion control must be monitored closely at all the important work spots of an organization. Some measuring yardsticks are to be set and done in time in order to make it more effective.

  • Ordering the right quantity and quality and supervising when receiving them.
  • While preparing the food in the production area, doing direct (close) supervision.
  • Doing close supervision in service area.
  • Using correct service equipments (spoons, ladles, cups etc) and good habits of serving.
  • Practicing portioning guides. These are charts indicating portion sizes against each item on the menu displayed in the kitchens and at service points, where staff dishing out the food or serving to customers can refer to the standards on the chart, when in doubt.
  • Using only standardized recipes.
  • Employees should realize their responsibility and role in portion control.
  • Proper storage of ingredients to avoid wastage.
  • Careful portioning before production.
  • Careful portioning after production.

  8. Areas to be focussed much for effective portion control


Portion control must be carried out in various stages of food production. In a food production cycle, all the major steps needs focus and enforced to control the portion size. But majority focus has to be given on two areas called production and service.


8.1.Portion Control in Preparation


Portion control actually begins with the measuring of ingredients. If this is not done correctly, then the yield of the recipe will be thrown off. When portions are determined by count—1burger patty, 2 tomato slices, 1 wedge of pie—then the units must be measured or cut according to instructions: 4 ounces meat per patty; 1⁄4-inch slices of “5 ×6” tomatoes; 8 equal wedges per pie.


8.2.Portion Control in Plating and Service


Portioning for service may be done by the cook, as in a short-order restaurant, or by the service personnel, as in a cafeteria. The following tools and techniques are to be used.


8.2.1.Weighing: Weigh ingredients on a portion scale must adopt a standard procedure so that every time the quantity served will always support a fair practice.

  • Place the receiving container, if any, on the scale.
  • Set the scale so it reads zero.
  • Add the item being weighed to the container (or place on the scale, if no container is used) until the scale reads the desired weight.

   8.2.2. Counting It can be done manually by us. 1 slice of bread per order; 5 pieces of chicken per plate per order. This is accurate if cutting and other prep work have been done correctly.


8.2.3. Weight. Example: 4 ounces of sliced ham per order. A portion scale must be at the serving station for this method of portion control.


8.2.4. Volume. Ladles, scoops, and kitchen spoons come in standard volume sizes and are used for portioning. The exact size of the ladle or scoop needed for a portion must be determined in advance and indicated on service instructions. Kitchen spoons, either solid or perforated, are not as accurate for portioning but are often used for convenience and speed. So it must be able to judge by eyes how full to fill the spoon (rounded, heaped, etc.). But then and there a spoonful of food must be checked on a portion scale to make sure that there is a constant and consistent supervision on portion size.


8.2.5. Even division could be an ideal option to control portion size. For examples: cutting a pie into 8 equal wedges; cutting a pan of pizza 4 ×6 to make 24 equal portions. Square cake into 12 uniform pieces.


8.2.6. Standard fill of food product could be done by using Standard-size dishes, cups, or glasses and are filled to a given level, as judged by eye. Example: a glass of orange juice. This is actually a form of volume measure.

All these practices ensure a fair portion to the customers, and that is s the need of an establishment for its growth.


9.  Advantages of effective portion control

  • Using equipments is useful portioning at the point of service, where exact measurements would lead to good customer relations.
  • The service is quicker and the quality is better.
  • Buying pre portioned items or proportioning before cooking will also encourage fair services
  • Although the actual amounts of various nutrients present in different foods vary, the weight or volume of a portion of food served is a fairly good guide to provide nutritional quality.
  • All apart portion control also saves time and energy requirements.

10.  Effects of irregular or badly administered portion control


The following will emerge if the portion sizes are not controlled.

  • Dissatisfied customers resulting in decrease of business when the portion sizes are small or uneven.
  • Food costing will be inaccurate, affect profit when the portion sizes are too big than the anticipated size. Protein is the most expensive item of a meal. Hence the portions must be weighed consistently and precisely. Lack in portion control results in
  • Variability and discrepancy in portions of starches, vegetables, etc. can translate into waste of time and money.
  • A lack of sense of responsibility among personnel leading to loss of standard.
  • Medical outcomes of improper portion control may be imbalanced nutrition in therapeutic diets either exceeded or reduced. For examples calorie imbalance results in unintentional weight gain; Excess sodium intake lead to complications. Serving a meal, as specified by the diet order, is just as important as administering medication correctly. Hence prompt supervision on portion control is necessary to get better results.

11. Executing portion control in an establishment


It is so important to learn the need for portion control in a food service establishment for a best reputation from the customers. Hence the following areas to be focussed by the food service establishments for effective execution.

  • Develop a complete reader’s manual on potion control at the various levels of food production with methods and illustrations.
  • Make the employees aware of the importance of portion control and customers reputation by appropriate training and demonstrations
  • Sufficient training and close supervision is a mandatory for an establishment to control over portion
  • Food service managers must realize the effects of proper portion control for the reputation of the establishment.
  • Policy must be framed based on the efficient control over the portion at various levels of food service establishments.
  • Accepting the customer feedback about the service of the establishment is also important to execute portion control

Sample portion control guide for the employees of the establishment


  1. Summary

To summarise this lesson it is important to understand the basic requirements of portion control in a food service establishment because irregular management of portion leads to customer dissatisfaction. Food portion control is an additional activity of a management to efficiently control the food cost and increase the customer turn over. It’s a must to develop food service organization to establish effective portion control guides and manuals and encourage the employees learn them for a better control over portion quality. The key role in portion control is purchasing the raw materials with exact specifications, using standardized recipes and standard equipments.

you can view video on Portion Control



1. Gregoire M.B and Spears M.C., (2006), Food Service Organizations: A Managerial and Systems Approach (6th Edition), Pearson Prentice Hall Publications.
2. Marian C. Spears,(1995) Food Service Organization –A managerial and Systems Approach, Prentice.Hall,Inc, A Simon & Schuster Co,
3. Sethi,M and Malhan,S,M,( 2006),Catering Management an Integrated approach, IInd edition, Wiley Eastern Limited, Mumbai.
4. Bobby George,Sandeep Chatterjee(2012),Food and Beverage Service,(2nd Edition),JAICO publishing Company,New Delhi
5. Ruby P. Puckett,(2004) Food Service manual for health care institutions,(3rd Edition),AHA Publishers,USA


Web links

  • http://nihmkolkata.in/wpcontent/uploads/2014/11/UNIT4_KITCHEN_MANAGEMENT.pdf
  • dealsoftware.co.za/portion-control-and-food-cost
  • https://www.thebalance.com/restaurant-portion-control-2888588