Types of Menu Planning

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  • 0:00 Before We Eat/What Is…
  • 1:14 Type of Institution
  • 1:55 Costs
  • 2:31 Food Availability
  • 2:57 Transportation
  • 3:36 Six Types of…
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: LeRon Haire
This lesson will define what the term 'menu planning' means, as well as provide an explanation of the factors that help to determine menu planning. Finally, this lesson will describe the six different types of menus.

Before We Eat…

While eating inside of a restaurant or a fast-food chain, have you ever stopped to think about how the menu there was constructed? Typically, this is something that we food patrons take for granted. We are accustomed to entering an establishment, gazing through the menu, and ordering, without putting any real thought into how the menu was planned. In this lesson, we'll discuss the different types of menu planning as well as examples of each kind of menu and why they are important.

What Is Menu Planning?

For those of you that have lived on the planet Mars for the past few decades, a menu is a comprised list of food items that are served at a particular establishment. Menus are the fabric of the food industry because of their role as a tour guide for the establishment. The menu is able to tell you the types of foods and beverages served, along with the prices of each. Just as important as the menu itself would be the planning of the menu. Menu planning is the choosing of menu foods, typically for a specific event. There are several factors to be taken into consideration when undertaking menu planning. Let's take a look at some of these factors.

Type of Institution

One of the most important factors in menu planning is first determining the type of institution for which the menu is being planned. Let's assume that you are menu planning for a wedding. This is critical to know because it will allow you to cater (pun intended) the menu needs to the crowd who is going to attend. Most weddings will not have cheeseburgers and french fries as their menu items. If the institution were a fast-food establishment, then you can be certain that there will be no upscale foods, such as swordfish, salmon, or pan-seared crusted pork loin, on the menu. Without knowing the type of institution you are planning for, it is a tall task to plan a menu.


When menu planning, costs are a critical factor that also need to be taken into consideration. If you are in charge of planning a menu and have been given a specific budget, then that greatly affects the type of menu that you can plan. For example, if you've been given a budget of $50,000 to plan a menu, then you may have the funds to purchase more lavish food items, such as lobster or steak. However, if your budget is only $100, then you will obviously have to settle for planning a menu consisting perhaps of finger foods, a fruit-and-cheese tray, or a small desert tray.

Food Availability

It is important when planning a menu that you first check to make sure that the foods that you want to add to your menu are in season. Many menus have dishes which include foods that may not be available at the current time. These types of foods, which are typically fruits and various seafoods, can only be obtained when they are considered in season. A menu planner would hate to plan to have a strawberry platter on the menu if strawberries are not in season.


Have you ever witnessed the meal set-up for a wedding? If you have, then you are probably aware that the food does not simply arrive by car. The mode of transportation for menu planning is an important factor that should not be ignored. For example, menu items that need refrigeration or freezing will need special accommodations made in order to be transported to their destination. It is not a wise decision to deliver that frozen ice-cream cake in the trunk of a Toyota in the midst of the summer heat. However, it is wise to plan accordingly and hire the services of a vehicle which is equipped to move such items.

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