To say the pandemic has been a challenge for the restaurant industry is an understatement. While many restaurants have closed, many open restaurants still face unprecedented challenges, including curfews, indoor dining restrictions, and unstable food costs. These wild jumps in food prices can equate to food cost increases of more than double, leaving restaurants to figure out how to maintain their menus without having to pass these increases along to their customers. After all, with so many Americans out of work or working reduced hours, charging customers higher prices is a lot to ask.

So, how do you keep your menu prices down when food costs go up? Here are some tips for managing ever-changing food prices and keeping your customers happy at the same time.

Look For Specials

While, unfortunately, some food costs have gone up during the pandemic, there are exceptions to the rule. For example, some meat prices have gone down slightly, which is good news for both restaurants and consumers. One way to take advantage of these price decreases is to look for specials to add to your menu. Pork chops down a few dollars this week? Consider offering them on special. People love specials, and they’re a fun way to keep customers coming back.

Change Up Your Menu

One way to avoid raising prices is to stop offering items that have increased dramatically in price. Many restaurants are already offering limited menus during the pandemic due to food shortages and increased costs, and your customers will most likely understand if you have to, too.

Offset Costs By Offering Dishes With Higher Profit Margins

Even if some food prices go up, you can still keep your menu prices stable by adding some new dishes with higher profit margins to your menu. This gives your customers something new to try while allowing you to keep offering their favorites, too.

Change Portion Sizes

Another way to scale back your food costs is to reduce portion sizes. This will give your customers the same food they love, just a little bit less. Consider offering fewer toppings, smaller cuts of meat, or less free extras.

Raise Your Prices

Nobody wants to have to raise prices, but sometimes it’s necessary. Customers may not like the price increases, but they always have the option of choosing another dish that fits their budget. If they inquire about the price increase, be honest. Most customers will understand.

Stay Nimble

Remember, no matter what challenges fluctuating food prices bring to your restaurant, it’s important to be flexible. It can not only benefit your business; it can benefit your customer, too.