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Planning Your Menu & Setting Your Prices
Planning Your Menu & Setting Your Prices
Mitch Scanlan avatar
Written by Mitch Scanlan
Updated over a week ago

In this article we’ll share tips for creating a successful menu that we have gathered from customer preferences and top shefs on the platform.

If you're looking for step-by-step instructions on how to add a dish to your menu, go to our article on Adding a Dish to Your Menu.

If you're looking for recommendations on portion sizes and what containers to use, visit our Recommended Food Containers article.

We recommend providing your customers with a variety of options on your menu. Offering several different main dishes, side dishes and even appetizers and desserts allows your customers to customize their order exactly how they want to, and everyone in the family can get they want too! We have found that having at least 7 dishes on your menu makes getting orders from customers more likely.

Tips for main dishes offered on your menu

  • Customers most often purchase main dishes that are 16oz (or more), 1 serving, and priced under $11. We recommend that you make sure your menu offers several dishes that fit this criteria.

  • Consider adding small, medium and large portion options—price per serving should go down for larger portion sizes (everyone loves a deal!)

  • Focus on main dishes that are high in protein (e.g. meat curries) and/or high in nutritious vegetables.

  • Don't forget vegetarian options. Both meat and vegetarian options tend to be popular with customers.

  • Main dishes under $10 tend to sell more quickly, as long as the portion size is still generous.

Tips for side dishes offered on your menu

  • Include at least 1 bread or rice option (e.g. roti, naan, pita, tortillas).

  • Include at least 1 larger (16 oz) portion of side dishes like rice. This is a high-margin item that is easy to make.

  • Include at least 1 snack, sauce, or dip option (e.g. raita, hummus, salsa, pickles).

  • Include at least 1 dessert option, if possible.

  • Side dishes under $5 tend to sell more quickly, as long as the portion size is still generous.

Other tips to help you build a successful menu

  • Consider adding dishes with overlapping ingredients. This can help make your cooking process more efficient across multiple orders.

  • Consider adding larger portion sizes of some menu items to allow for larger orders. Price per serving should go down for larger portion sizes - everyone loves a deal!

  • Choose dishes that can travel and reheat well. Remember that your food will be cooled and refrigerated in Shef bags when it is delivered to your customers. You should ensure your food will maintain its quality after refrigeration and (where applicable) reheating.

  • Ensure all of your dishes can fit into your delivery bags (for shefs using drop-off locations, our red Shef delivery bags are 9 x 9 x 9 inches). You can see our guidance on recommended containers here.

  • Consider adding holiday or seasonal items, where applicable. We have found that these can be very popular with customers!

  • Choose up to 7 cuisine specialty tags for your cuisine profile. You can select geographical tags (like North Indian and Punjabi) and specialty tags (like Baked Goods and Comfort). This makes it easier for customers to find your menu.

Things not allowed on your menu

  • No raw seafood or shellfish. Due to food safety considerations, we do not allow dishes containing raw seafood items on our platform. However, we do allow cooked seafood, and products like bonito flakes, oyster sauce, fish sauce, and shrimp paste.

  • No ice cream or other frozen foods. We cannot support frozen food delivery at this time.

  • No uncooked food, such as raw dough or batter, where the cooking process must be finished by the customer.

  • No alcoholic, hemp, or cannabis food items.

  • No options for customization or special requests. Our website does not currently support the ability for customers to make any special requests when ordering a dish from your menu. Please do not use descriptions such as "can be made vegetarian upon request" or "choose your own protein/spice level." Instead, we encourage you to feature these alternative options (different proteins, different spice levels, different sauces) as separate menu items to provide more variety for customers.

Choosing the best prices for items on your menu

  • As a business owner, you should make sure that after the cost of ingredients and time spent cooking, you are happy with your earnings. However, if your prices are too high, customer data shows you may have trouble getting your first customers and then to keep them coming back for more.

  • Customers most often purchase main dishes that are 16oz (or more), 1 serving, and priced under $11. We recommend that you make sure your menu offers several dishes that fit this criteria.

  • If you do choose to set your prices above these recommendations, you should make the value clear to your customers. Some customers are willing to pay more for gourmet, organic, or artisan ingredients, or dishes that are rare and hard to find.

  • Customer data shows higher prices do not necessarily mean more earnings. Some of the most successful shefs suggest using mid-range, competitive prices to entice customers, especially as you build your customer base.

If you are finding it challenging to get customers, you might consider experimenting with pricing and see if it makes a difference for you.

Using the price recommendation tool

We will recommend a price range for each of your menu items while creating or editing any dish in the dish builder (in the 'Servings & Price' step). The price recommendation tool looks for the most successful dishes in your city with similar names and portion sizes, and suggests a price range to help you optimize your sales.

While the recommended price range might not fit every dish on your menu, we recommend considering this price range for at least 80% of your dishes to keep your pricing competitive.

We have been tracking the impact of this tool since April 2023. Shefs who followed the recommended price range saw 41% more orders than shefs with dishes outside the recommended range. Shefs who lowered their prices also saw a 27% increase in conversion (sales) on these dishes.

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