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It’s a daily grind out there on the streets in your food truck. Between transit, service, and living your life, the last thing you need is your food truck menu working against you.
Delicious is a given. On-theme is a must. But what about practicality, level of execution, and profitability? All the pressures of a regular kitchen are amplified by your mobility and tight space, making it critical that your restaurant menu ideas are well thought out.
That’s why we’ve put together key considerations for your food truck menu ideas. Hopefully, you’ll come away with some inspiration and ideas to help you keep on truckin’.
Food truck menu ideas to balance popularity with profitability
More than anything else, your food truck menu ideas should speak to your soul. You’re going to be crammed into a confined space grinding these dishes out time and time again. This level of dedication means that you need to believe in your food.
Now, what exactly you believe in is up to you. It could be making something that’s the best in town or making something that’s a cash cow. Here are 3 important factors to consider when engineering a menu to balance popularity with profitability.
1. Consider the gaps in your local food offerings
It’s important to survey other offerings in your area as you develop new menu ideas. Don’t feel obligated to fill every culinary gap in your town. On the flip side, if there are 35 different food trucks serving chicken wings in your area, opening up another truck offering wings might not be the best idea.
The point is - you don’t need to change up your entire concept to fill local gaps. You could look to fuse your concept with whatever your area is lacking. Or, you could see if there’s an appetite for what’s missing. A great way to experiment with this is by running unique specials and seeing how customers respond.
The food truck business is incredibly competitive, which means you need to put together a food truck marketing plan in order to create hype, and let people know how they can actually find your truck!
2. Maximize your limited space with prep and commissary work
As a food truck operator, you are no doubt well-aware of your compact space. You have a limited amount of cooking equipment as well as storage for food. That’s why you must have a prep strategy to maximize the amount of food ready to fire.
Think of how much more space whole bell peppers take up compared to peppers already chopped and ready to throw in the pan. When you think about new menu ideas, it’s details like how your ingredients fit into your prep work or on-truck storages that will ultimately affect your menu and service.
3. Master your menu profitability, item by item
Regardless of your cuisine or local culinary gaps, your menu ideas must be profitable — and you must be fully aware of what that profitability is for each menu item.
The recipe costing exercises required to calculate your plate costs are too difficult to do manually. While this has always been the case, it is particularly true these days with inflation and supply chain issues impacting ingredient prices.
Invoice processing automation is the key tool for unlocking your costs. This software processes your accounts payable data quickly and digitally, cutting out costs that manual invoicing requires
(such as time, labor, and postage.)
5 effective food truck menu design examples for inspiration
Don’t skimp on your menu item descriptions
The pen is mightier than the sword — especially when it comes to a growling stomach!
The right words can make all the difference for your menu. You took the time to craft each of the items on your menu, so they deserve a little time dedicated to describing them. And, in the age of the foodie, customers have a real appetite for mouthwatering descriptions.
Don’t overcomplicate your menu’s ingredients
Ensure that your menu delights guests without its ingredients becoming a burden to prep, store, and fire.
This is exceptionally important if you’re just getting started. Just kick off your food truck with a few delicious menu ideas that you know you can consistently deliver on. As you see what sells, don’t be afraid to mix it up. Your creativity can snag customers’ attention.
Don’t be afraid to run some seasonal, limited-time specials.
You can pack a great punch by building a new menu item or two around whatever is seasonal in your area. Plus, this item’s price point can cushion your margins given the timelines and exclusivity of the product.
Offer items at multiple price points
The ability to offer multiple price points enables more folks to try out your food truck. This may mean scaling back portions to reduce your plate costs so that you can appropriately reduce prices.
For example - a customer may be more incentivized to purchase a $10 entree and a few $2-5 sides rather than multiple $15-20 entrees. This is especially true for new patrons who want to try multiple items.
Consolidate your ingredients
Food trucks and trailers can get away with offering a smaller menu as compared to brick-and-mortar restaurants. Customers get it. There's less space, fewer staff, and just a totally different operating option.
Operators can double down on the luxury provided by fewer menu items by honing in on certain ingredients. This helps to simplify your procedures while giving you a bit more purchase power — especially if you're able to focus in on one or two particular proteins.
Do you and do it deliciously
The food truck business can be a harsh one. But guess what - you’re going after your dream and making it happen. So, don’t be afraid to embrace your personality in your food truck brand. It’s your business! Just make sure your menu is practical and delicious at the same time.
Looking for more food truck ideas? Don’t miss On the Line’s article on how to start your food truck business, with tons of ideas for jumpstarting your new business.
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