Every school nutrition program should be using standardized recipes as a guide to preparing foods for students. This ensures that all recipes are consistent in quality, taste and amounts across all serving sites. Not only does this help the food preparation sites run more smoothly but students will be served the correct amount of food that meets NSLP USDA nutrition and equivalency requirements. When it comes to recipes for food service, remember S.A.M.E. – Standardization Always Meets Expectations.

What is a Standardized Recipe?
A standardized recipe is a set of written instructions used to consistently prepare a known quantity and quality of food for a specific location. The resulting product will be identical in taste and yield every time, no matter who follows the directions. A standardized recipe ensures that there are no missing ingredients, faulty seasonings, insufficient instructions and that the correct equipment and ingredients are used. Standardized recipes should be tested to ensure they will produce a consistent product each time.

Benefits of a Standardized Recipe
There are many benefits to using standardized recipes at every site for every meal.
o Costs: only order as much food as you need with minimal waste.
o Portion Sizes: every students gets the correct and same amount.
o Inventory Control: helps reduce food waste.
o Nutritional content and meal equivalencies for menu planning.
o Addresses dietary concerns or food allergies
o Food safety: Incorporates HACCP principles.
o Quality: the best possible food item is produced every time by every cook, at every site.
o Quantity: only buy and serve the amount of food required. No more over- or under-preparing or wasting food.
o Meets customer expectations for appearance, taste and serving size.
o Work simplification: helps save employees time and steps.
o Helps train new employees: gives all employees confidence by eliminating guesswork and decreasing the likelihood of mistakes and poor food quality.
Record Keeping
o Aids in forecasting and purchasing.
o State Review Documentation!
o Can be used in case of a recall.

Components of a Standardized Recipe (* indicates a required component for school nutrition)
Menu Item Name*: Should be consistent with the name on the menu and across other documentation (recipe analysis worksheet (RAW), nutrient analysis software, production records)
o Recipe numbers are optional but are useful for organizing recipes and matching recipes on production records.
Recipe Category*: based on defined categories set by each operation (main dishes, vegetables, soups, breakfast, desserts, etc.).
Number of Servings/Yield*: number of servings or portions the recipe produces; can also include total weight or volume.
Serving Size*: Amount or size of each individual portion.
o Consider if different serving sizes will be used for different age groups and make adjustments to total yield and meal equivalencies if necessary.
o Specify the serving utensil that should be used to provide the correct serving size for each grade group.
Ingredient list and Quantity*: List the exact quantities of each ingredient in order used (spices can be listed as “to taste” – be mindful of salt!).
Preparation Instructions*: State the detailed directions in order of operation and method (blend, fold, mix, etc.).
o Be as specific as possible.
o Include equipment needed, like pan sizes, amount of product per pan, type of oven, how to cut portions, etc.
Cooking Temperatures and Times*: Includes HACCP critical control points and limits to ensure food is cooked and stored safely and properly.
Meal Pattern Contribution: Record the contribution the recipe ingredients contribute to NSLP requirements for M/MA, grains, fruits and vegetables and milk meal equivalencies.
Serving Suggestions: Optional information for variations, condiments, hot/cold service instructions, plating instructions, and garnishes.
Other Optional Information: Feel free to include other beneficial information such as recipe cost, recipe variations, work simplification tips or companion recipes and photos.

How to Standardize Recipes
If you don’t currently use standardized recipes, you can follow the steps of recipe standardization to gain all the benefits for your food service operation. There are typically three phases of standardization: 1) Recipe Verification, 2) Product Evaluation, and 3) Quantity Adjustment. Below is a quick summary of the standardization process. For more detailed tips visit the resources listed below.

1. Recipe Verification
a. Review the recipe: title, category, ingredients and quantities, directions, cooking temperatures and time, serving sizes, recipe yield and equipment and utensils.
b. Prepare the recipe: it is recommended to make the first version to yield 25 servings. Keep detailed notes regarding variations, equipment used and cooking time and temperatures.
c. Verify Yields: Verify ingredient, recipe and serving yields. Yields can vary by product quality, preparation techniques and cooking times. Specify yield in weight and/or volume and number of servings.
2. Product Evaluation: this step determines acceptability of the recipe and provides information to further improve the final product.
a. Informal Evaluation: includes only food service employees to determine if the recipe is acceptable.
b. Formal Evaluation: If the recipe passes the informal evaluation, the recipe can be evaluated by students, staff and other customers.
3. Quantity Adjustment: If the recipe was positively received in the formal evaluation, the recipe can be adjusted to the desired number of servings using a variety of adjustment methods.
a. Factor Method
b. Direct Reading Tables Method
c. Percentage Method
d. Computerized Recipe Adjustment

Though the recipe standardization process may look daunting, the overall benefits will be worth it to your food service operation. Not only will your kitchens and employees run more efficiently, your students will appreciate the delicious and consistent quality of food being served.

Remember, if you need recipe inspiration, visit goldkist.com for delicious chicken menu ideas!

References and Resources