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Efficient & Economical Food Production, menu planning & Essentials of a Balanced Diet

While cooking food for ship staff, the chief cook needs to be aware of the importance of cost control, quality control, and quantity control. He should be wise enough while choosing the right cooking method during food production and wait for the best results. He also gives a considerable thought while menu planning and understanding the essentials of a balanced diet.

Efficient & Economical Food Production: Onboard ship galley is chief cooks area of responsibility. He is in charge of producing all meals served to crew and officers. Ship staff rely on cooks expertise to provide them with healthy and well balanced meals. Chief cooks main objective should therefore be to produce high quality meals as efficiently and economically as Shipboard management has certain goals for catering department. These goals consist of the following:

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Cost control: To help management control costs, chief cook expected to keep waste to a minimum. Besides, he is expected to make the best and fullest use of each product and to work quickly and efficiently.

Quality & quantity control:To help control quality, you are expected to produce food that consistently meets the standards set in a hygienic and safe environment. To help control quantity, you are expected to produce the specified amount of food, no less, and portion amounts accurately.

To make the operation run smoothly and economically, you are expected to perform the tasks assigned to you. The responsibilities assigned to you will be communicated through your job description, work schedules, production sheets, word of mouth, recipes and forms given for special purposes.

Food production at ship

Cooking Food at ship

Cooking Food at ship

To provide the best production flow, you should: analyze your assignment, make yourself a schedule & organise your work station appropriately.

Your goal is to work effectively in a hygienic environment and meet all deadlines. Work efficiency depends on proper planning, organization, and a sterile environment. Hygiene includes tidiness as well as cleanliness. You cannot work efficiently if your work station is cluttered with dirty utensils and waste.

Common Serving Portions

  1. Eggs 50 - 125 g
  2. Meat/ Fish 50 - 100 g
  3. Fruit 125 - 200 ml
  4. Cereal 125 ml
  5. Juice 150 - 200 ml
  6. Bread or Starch 30 - 60 g
  7. Milk 150 - 200 ml
  1. Soup 125 - 175ml
  2. Salad 125 - 250g
  3. Salad Dressing 25 - 50ml
  4. Meats/ Fish 125 - 175g Starch 50 - 100g
  5. Vegetable 100 - 250g Sauce 25 - 50ml
  6. Bread 30 - 60g
  7. Dessert & Fruits 50 - 125g
Food menu at ship

Typical food menu

  1. Soup 175 - 225ml
  2. Salad 80 - 200g
  3. Salad Dressing 25 - 35ml
  4. Meats/ Fish 125 - 200g
  5. Starch 50 - 200g
  6. Vegetable 100 - 250g
  7. Sauce 25 - 50 ml
  8. Bread 30 - 60g
  9. Dessert & Fruits 50 - 200g

Choosing the Correct Cooking Method

Cooking methods depend on the type of food. Some meat consists of a large number of connective tissue and will be tough unless this tissue is broken down slowly by moist heat (i.e. beef silverside, topside, chuck, brisket, pork shoulder, etc.).

Other types of meat have less connective tissue and are naturally tender. They are at their best and juiciest when cooked rare to the medium using a dry heat.

There are many other factors to consider when choosing cooking methods for meat, fish, and vegetables, such as flavor and appearance. These factors will be discussed in more detail in the following module "Cooking methods."

Choosing the right cooking method will ensure that your meals are tasty, nutritious, and appealing. It is, therefore important, that you apply the correct method to the correct items during production.

Equally important is the fact that applying the correct cooking method is economical, and there's less waste. An expensive item such as beef fillet should never be braised, stewed, or roasted. Generally, these cooking methods should be used on tougher meat which is more economical in the long run.
cooking-method at ship

Cooking method at ship

Menu Planning

Menu planning is not an easy task, and dishes included in the menu should be carefully thought out. It is widely considered that the menu is the cornerstone of any foodservice operation. Purchasing, production, cost accounting, labor and time management, and even kitchen layout is influenced by the menu.

menu-planning at ship

Menu planning at ship

The menu must be well balanced. It must contain an adequate variety of nutritious food that can be efficiently and economically prepared. A variety of food alternatives should be available on board for the crew from diverse cultural backgrounds. It's important to cater for crewmembers who have special dietary needs, for example, vegetarians. There must be enough alternatives for such crewmembers to eat properly and healthily.

In planning your menu, you should consider the following factors:

Essentials of a Balanced Diet

Snacks and drinks The following items should be available in all mess rooms:
  1. A bowl of fresh fruit; The best fruit is things like apples, oranges, bananas, and pears as they are ready to eat. The fruit should be checked for quality and replaced every day.
  2. Coffee / tea facilities; Don't forget to provide sugar and milk.
  3. Instant noodles; Noodles should be available in the mess room at all times. They are a popular choice of snack and easy to prepare.
  1. There should always be toast, butter, jam/marmalade, honey, cold cuts of meat, and cheese.
  2. Cooked breakfast such as fried eggs, bacon or scrambled eggs, and sausage should be available.
  3. Porridge is another popular dish that can be provided. However, certain Asian nationalities will also expect rice. Morning coffee break Coffee/tea making facilities should be available and served with suitable snacks.
Balanced diet for ship staff

Balanced diet for ship staff

Lunch Soup is a popular choice as a starter for lunch if a crew member cannot eat soup for religious or ethnic reasons an alternative should be offered. The main course should be different from the starter. The chicken soup should not be followed by a chicken curry. The main course should be: either meat or fish fresh or frozen vegetables (make sure the most perishable vegetables are used first) starch, such as rice, potatoes or pasta.

The main components of a meal can be combined for variety. For example: lasagne filled with beef and vegetables; Greek moussaka made with vegetables, potatoes, and meat. It is a good idea to have some fresh salad, such as cucumbers, onions, tomatoes, and lettuce. Frozen or tinned goods should be used as an alternative when there are no fresh supplies. A dessert may be offered after the main meal.

Afternoon coffee break Coffee / tea making facilities and snacks should be available in the afternoon.

Dinner Dinner should follow the same structure as lunch but there should be three courses and larger portions. For example, soup as a starter, followed by a main course with salad, and finishing with a dessert.

Menu cycle

All menus need to be planned so that the same meals are not repeated during the day. Planning ahead ensures you can produce well balanced meals throughout the week. It also means you can use provisions according to quantity, expiry dates and cost. Menu planning should include re-usable food items.

All inventoried items should be used equally according to the quantities of stock. Fresh and perishable items should be used before the expiry date. Only then should frozen or tinned food be used. Unused food items should only be re-used if it is safe to do so. Leftovers must be refrigerated as soon as possible.

Related guideline

  1. Efficient cooking guideline for chief cook - five things to remember

  2. Different cooking method for ship use

  3. Catering for a multicultural crew

  4. Catering for galley staff - garbage management

  5. Environmental aspects - various safety matters

  6. Action to be taken if drugs are found onboard

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