Revel Blog

How to Create a Kitchen Prep List & Why You Need One

Sydney Kida | May 26, 2022 |

kitchen management Featured
How to Create a Kitchen Prep List & Why You Need One

A kitchen prep list — also referred to as a restaurant prep sheet, production sheet, kitchen prep sheet or par sheet — is essential to smooth restaurant kitchen functionality. It serves as both a record and a game plan for every day in the kitchen. When your prep list is formatted clearly and shared in an accessible way, everyone in the kitchen is on the same page. Is your restaurant’s prep sheet for kitchen functionality the best it can be, or is there room for improvement?

What is a Kitchen Prep List?

A restaurant prep list is a spreadsheet with an itemized list of ingredients, how many are needed for the day, and how many still need to be prepared to meet demand. 

An ingredient may be as simple as pickles. If the pickles come pre-sliced in a jar, there is no prep work needed other than ensuring you have enough in stock for the day. But if an ingredient is diced tomatoes, you’ll need to wash and chop them, and put them in their designated container.  

Make a prep list for each station in your establishment: the grill station, salad station, sauce prep station – whatever your kitchen includes. These lists are used by prep cooks at the beginning of the day to alert line cooks of the status of the ingredients on hand.  

The Importance of a Kitchen Prep List

Prep sheets for restaurants offer many benefits, but it all boils down to two important factors:

  • Less wasted time
  • Less wasted ingredients

Both of these also mean less wasted money. When time and ingredients are used efficiently, you are making the most of what you have. Being organized pays off: there’ll be no need to order more food or hire more cooks to make up for lost time or ingredients.  

Keeping a prep list with an accurate record of the ingredients on hand means:

  1. The cooks, servers, and guests know what is available. 
  2. You’ll never run out of a popular dish. A server won’t have to inform guests that you are out of stock of their favorite dish after they order it. 
  3. You’ll have valuable data so you know the right quantity of an ingredient to order in the future. 
  4. Fewer items expire before consumption. 
  5. Nothing slips through the cracks. It ensures that enough food gets prepared ahead of time, so that even the most complicated dishes are quick and easy to assemble when ordered. This means less of a wait for guests to get their food served. And as any restaurant owner knows, happy guests means returning guests. 
  6. Less stress for the chefs because they know exactly what they’re working with so they can prepare dishes faster.
  7. All this combined means less chaos in the kitchen – even on the busiest of days or longest of lunch rushes.

How to Create a Kitchen Prep List

So, how do you make a prep list for your kitchen? Clearly note the station and day of the week at the top of the page. Prep cooks should also write their name at the top. That way, if there are any questions or discrepancies, it’s clear who to go to with questions. 

Before creating your prep list, you will need to be aware of the following:

  1. Your food inventory for each food station.
  2. The average number of individual food items needed on busy days and slow days. Of course, it’s impossible to know this for a newer restaurant. Take stock during the first few weeks, and soon you’ll know how to estimate based on customer trends each day of the week. Holidays and discount days may be busier than the typical “busy” day.
  3. Communicate to your cooks as to whose responsibility it is to prep food on which days.

Fill in a pre-made restaurant prep list template or create your own. If you prefer to design your own kitchen prep list template, here are the necessary columns to include:

  1. An itemized list of food that is prepared at that station.
  2. A blank column where the prep cook will note the number of each food item that has been prepared already. 
  3. Two columns that note the number of food items needed to be prepared to have enough for the day. This number is referred to as “par.” One column is for slow days and the other is for busy days.
  4. Some basic math is required from the prep cook for the fourth column. Subtract the column 2 number from the column 3 number. The result is the amount of food needed to be prepared.
  5. Finally, note how you measure the quantity of the food item.

You may also choose to include additional columns in your kitchen prep list, but these five columns cover the basics.

Place the prep sheet in a clearly visible place that is protected from grease, spatter, steam, and spills. Write clearly so that a new hire on their first day will easily be able to understand it. It is best to create a prep list template using software, as it makes it easier to edit and ensures consistency. Remember, the ability to edit these documents is essential because a kitchen prep list isn’t a static document — they will change as the menu, food supply, and other factors change throughout the year. 

How Technology Can Help

A good prep sheet template is a lifesaver not only for the kitchen, but for the restaurant as a whole. It provides a clear and uniform method of communication. Using technology like Revel’s restaurant POS system keeps all of your information in one place, making running your kitchen a breeze. Leveraging a POS system to a kitchen display system can also elevate your restaurant’s communication, both in-house and for customers ordering out. 

Revel Systems® streamlines all your restaurant management needs into one cloud-native platform. Our all-in-one solution helps to make reservations, pay bills, build your perfect menu, and facilitate mobile and online orders. 

Plus, our real-time inventory management software keeps track of ingredients so it’s never been easier to determine what goes on a kitchen prep list. Revel’s online ordering system tracks inventory as well, so that customers who order online are aware of what’s out of stock. And our restaurant POS software connects it all. Try a free demo today!