Procurement strategies support menu choice in Aged Care


Author: Dr Karen Abbey, Church Resources Foodservice Ambassador

Dr Karen Abbey will be speaking at PASA’s Aged Care conference in May (see details below). Here, she shares her insights into procurement strategies that help with benchmarking and enable purchasing at better costs.

One of the processes of procurement is the process of buying food items to plan meals, within budget and meet the expectation of your menu. Procurement of food can range from fresh foods/chill or frozen to ready prepared meals or component ingredients which can be assembled into meals. Menu planning is the process of deciding how many choices of food will be offered throughout the day and it is the type of procurement strategies around food production will determine how many choices can be offered on a menu.

Procurement and menu planning support each other.

Providing choice is essential when planning menus for aged care. Food choice is important as it allows residents to be engaged with meal services. It has been shown through studies that residents will eat more food when they can choose what they want to eat and the amount of food to be eaten. Therefore leading to less food waste and increased resident satisfaction with meal services.

We all like to have power over what we eat. Daily we make a decision about
our food choices – this does not stop when residents enter an aged care home.

We also all have food likes and dislikes making up our food preferences which are built over a lifetime and it is through these processes that we choose the food that we eat. Our choice of food is also influenced by how the meal is presented the colour combination on the plate and how it appeals to our eyes. Often we can change our minds about foods just by how they are presented.

Engaging residents during the meals service can be done in a couple of ways; either by asking them directly or providing meal delivery system which residents can help themselves. Self-serve meal system includes the use or trollies or buffet cart so that residents can see the selections. The use of stationary buffet food bars which residents can help themselves and by putting down choices onto the table and residents can again help themselves. Engaging residents in the food process is essential from menu planning the types of meals cooked to communicating the menu composition in dining rooms.

Simple strategies which can be implemented to increase choice during meal times include:

  1. When serving finger foods offer a variety of dipping sauces, e.g., tomato, BBQ or Sweet chilli
  2. When serving salads offer a variety of dressing mayonnaise, French, Italian
  3. Serve the protein on the plate and allow residents to select the vegetable from the table using tongs
  4. When making individual tarts or pies use different topping to increase choice options
  5. Different flavour ice creams with desserts

The use of technology can help to prepare meals to meet menu expectation. For culturally and religions meal requirements sometimes the use of ready-made meals or utilising production strategies such as cook-chill or cook-frozen will allow extra meals to be produced and held to be used on another menu day. Making of sauces, soups and gravies which can be made into small portions ready to use to support meal planning, likes, dislikes and food intolerances/allergens.

Utilising a range of procurement strategies not only to benchmark and obtain better food costs but also to enable productions to be flexible which will meet the growing expectation of what resident have when it comes to menus and meal services.

Would you like to gain more insights into procurement process and supply chain efficiencies in Aged Care? Dr Karen Abbey will be speaking at PASA’s second Aged Care Procurement Conference, 24th & 25th May 2016 at the Melbourne Olympic Park, Melbourne. Read more details here: 

* Dr Karen Abbey, Church Resources Foodservice Ambassador, Foodservice Specialist Dietitian PhD. To subscribe to  CR foodservices click here: image 2

About Author

Procurement and Supply Australasia (PASA) is the leading provider of information and education to procurement and supply professionals throughout Australia and New Zealand. PASA supports the largest community of engaged procurement stakeholders in the region, through its renowned series of events, publications, awards, plus various community and network building activities. PASA is a trading name of BTTB Marketing, for many years recognised as the leading producer of conferences and events for the procurement profession in Australia and New Zealand. Whether producing under the BTTB, CIPSA Conferences or now PASA brands over the last ten years, our events have consistently led the market in terms of both educational and networking opportunities.

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