Catersource is part of the Informa Connect Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Three Ingredients You Shouldn't Cut Corners On

Shrewd business owners are vigilant in finding ways to cut costs without compromising the quality of their goods and services. Profitability is essential, but it should never come at the expense of the customer experience. So, if you’re looking to reduce overhead, it is vital to know where you can trim the fat without affecting the quality and consistency of your meals.

Plenty of ingredients can go unnoticed when replaced with a budget-friendly alternative, like vinegar, spices, and grains. However, some foods should never get the scrimp-and-save treatment—here are three that are worth the investment. 

Meat and seafood 

Few things are more disappointing than a stringy piece of steak or shrimp that tastes a bit too fishy. Since proteins are typically the star of the show, meat and seafood of poor quality can spoil an entire meal. (No, those tasty sides can’t make up for it.) 

Worse still, pinching pennies on protein could mean serving food a little too close to its expiration date for comfort. Food safety is always paramount, followed closely by quality. So, while you do not need to splurge on Japanese Kobe for every entree, avoid taking the budget route when it comes to meat and seafood. 

Fruits and vegetables 

While produce tends to play a supporting role on a menu, there is no denying the importance of freshness in a dish. Soggy, wilting produce is not worth saving a few extra bucks, so it is better to procure fruits and vegetables at their peak. If your ideal clients value organic, non-GMO, or pesticide-free foods, investing in high-quality produce is a must.

To ensure freshness, design menus around seasonality. In addition to cost-effectiveness, seasonal menus support easier sourcing from local farms so you can better understand the quality and timing of each harvest. Plus, establishing solid relationships with regional suppliers allows you to capitalize on popular trends, like farm-to-table meals and locally sourced ingredients. 

Dietary alternatives 

Gluten, sugar, dairy, shellfish, nuts—it is not worth skimping on alternative ingredients when working with dietary restrictions. In this case, cutting corners risks more than just quality and can cause serious health consequences. 

Since food labels can tout misleading claims, it’s best to stick with certified alternatives when navigating food allergies and sensitivities. Such products are subject to more stringent guidelines and testing so you can ensure that your customers will enjoy their food safely.

You can reduce expenses by swapping out brand names and getting creative with substitutions. However, save the frugality for secondary ingredients that can go undetected once woven into a delicious meal. Nobody will know if you roast with inexpensive olive oil, but they will notice if your tenderloin isn’t so tender. Conserve where you can, but don’t lose the integrity of your A-list ingredients! 


Clint Elkins

Clint Elkins is the VP Sales for SB Value located in Charlotte, NC. Clint, a former professional race car driver, was one of the top motorsports promoters in the country by the age of 35. Clint used that experience and passion for business to launch his second career in a sales and marketing. Outside of work Clint enjoys spending time on his family farm and coaching his two daughters softball teams. Clint is also an avid cook and self proclaimed badminton superstar.