Tips for buying storage containers, new restaurant

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Joined Sep 17, 2010
Hello all,

I joined chef talk a long time ago, but have never posted.

I am a chef and have been hired as a consultant to design the kitchen and menu of a hamburger joint.

At the moment I'm putting together my list of equipment and utensils, and have reached a bit of a problem. What is the most logical way to calculate my storage containers (cambros, etc.)

Does anyone have a good formula to make a ballpark calculation for this?

Thank a lot!

Steve
 
2,182
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Joined Oct 31, 2012
I'll take a quick crack at this.
I'd start with a list of every ingredient on the menu. So one container for each to start with. As in, tomatoes in the box sit in cooler, then they get sliced and go in a container. Each prepped ingredient will need a ninth or sixth pan for action and a container for backup/storage. Then you want to change the containers frequently so you should have one available while the dirty one is being washed. So now we are up to two containers for each ingredient. Ingredients like onions, relish, tomatoes, lettuce, etc. Not all ingredients will take the same size container so you'd have to allow for that.
The hamburg rolls won't need a container but the hamburgers will.
Include in the list everything on the menu that won't come in it's own container.
Of course, you can always utilize empty sour cream containers and the like. But they aren't always all purpose.
Anyway, I'd start with two per ingredient.
 
2,238
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Joined Feb 17, 2010
I'll take a stab also. I had a burger truck for about eight years. Everything for the burgers was in a prep table. All ingredients were in 1/2, 1/3 or 1/6th pans. Fries and rings in hotel pans, all 6" deep.

I had four or more for each item that went into the table and some days I was left scrambling for a clean insert....things get busy, you can't get things washed up, your out of inserts and doing on the fly.

You have to gear up for a busier than normal and poof! Your out of pans.
So buy as many as the budget allows within reason.
 
658
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Joined Sep 26, 2017
Buy as many as you can afford and store.

I was just buying a whole bunch of containers for the 5th time the other day. You thought you have enough and then, somehow, you don't again.
 
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Joined Jan 25, 2013
first check with the local food police and see what is allowed or not allowed. i would make sure all containers are square or rectangle for best space utilization. also make sure all containers can be frozen so you don't have multiple sets.
 
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Joined Nov 2, 2015
Hello all,

I joined chef talk a long time ago, but have never posted.

I am a chef and have been hired as a consultant to design the kitchen and menu of a hamburger joint.

At the moment I'm putting together my list of equipment and utensils, and have reached a bit of a problem. What is the most logical way to calculate my storage containers (cambros, etc.)

Does anyone have a good formula to make a ballpark calculation for this?

Thank a lot!

Steve


I would also negotiate contract pricing for them so that as they need replacing you aren’t paying too much later when no one is watching day to day pricing.
 
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Joined Jun 23, 2015
"Of course, you can always utilize empty sour cream containers and the like. But they aren't always all purpose."
Chefwriter,
Reusing containers that are not NSF certified do not conform to proper sanitary practices.
 
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Joined Oct 31, 2012
Jimyra, I'm sure you are correct but I see lots of restaurants do this.
For the sake of discussion, I don't know what the NSF standards are or what the local health department might say if asked. I've never seen a restaurant get cited for using such containers. If the container held food when it was purchased, then it must be food safe according to somebody's standards. Many containers holding pre made products are quite sturdy, able to withstand the dishwasher to be sanitized. It seems a shame to add them to the landfill after a single use. The rectangular plastic fish boxes seem to be the most popular but certainly not the only ones used.
 
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Joined Feb 8, 2009
When I look at setting up a kitchen I look at whats needed "Fast" and how "Fast" I can replenish that container. This is also a question that needs to be asked when determining the size of the
Stainless Steel Refrigerated Sandwich Prep Table ......... Set up your menu and see whats needed from condiments. That will tell you what size unit you need. Then have a standup refer nearby to have backup containers of each condiment. The walk-in refer will hold larger containers of prepped condiments. You also need a easy to get meat only refer that will hold all your meats. This could be a under the counter small refer. It's also helpful to wait until you have the containers to set up your shelves in the walk-in.
820470.jpg I like these for the refer backup......and these for the walk-in backup
916732.jpg

these are the make-up counter container that comes with the unit. You can buy
extra. When thinking about tomato backup think of a 2" full pan because tomatoes can't be stacked to high.
995155.jpg Whats nice about the 2" full plastic is they stack nice in the walk-in refer. The main thing for you right now is figuring out the menu so you know whats needed. Think like a health inspector when setting up a front line. If a front line doesn't have enough refer space and easy access to whats needed, then items will be life out during service that need to be kept refrigerated. ..........Good Luck.......ChefBillyB
 

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This is in the ServSafe Management class. Many containers are safe for one use but a dishwasher may remove a protective coating or some such thing. I see many restaurants use empty pickle buckets for stocking ice but that does not make it a sanitary practice. I agree totally about the one use and to the landfill but we seem to be a disposable society. To learn more about food safety go to: https://www.servsafe.com/
 
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Joined Oct 31, 2012
Just passed the servsafe about six months ago. I don't recall any mention of container use. I've been taking food safety courses since the early eighties and have never seen anything about this.
I'd be skeptical even if it's true now that it isn't some legislation passed on behalf of the container industry. Food Safety is a great bugaboo to enable passing unnecessary legislation for the sake of a politician's career.
I'd also like to know how the container is food safe if a coating can come off, thus making it not food safe. No guarantee it wouldn't come off the first time.
If the pickle bucket is washed, I don't see how that's not as safe as any other container used after washing. As with any other container, how it's handled makes more of a concern. Stacking dirty containers inside each other, leaving them on the floor, not being properly washed and any number of other issues might compromise food safety. But either the container is safe or it's not. If originally used for food, it's safe. If not, it should be labeled as such.
 
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Joined Nov 11, 2012
My HD will mark you down for not having NSF containers.
Bonus tip... If you are buying a make station/sandwich station, many of them come with 6th pans. Full of sixth pans!
 
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Joined Feb 8, 2009
For years we used Mayo and pickle buckets for many thinks around the kitchen. One being ice buckets, another being for house made dressings, Salsa and potato salad. As long as the buckets and lids were clean and labeled the Health dept never said a word. There are a lot worse things you could do in the kitchen. Using a mayo container wasn't a problem for any health dept in Washington and Oregon.
 
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Joined Mar 3, 2016
Yeah, always saw sour cream buckets, ice cream/gelato buckets and (new) takeaway containers being used. Never had a food safety issue except for the takeaway containers, where small pieces of plastic can break off.
If you are worried about cost, look around at charity shops-there's always tonnes of decent plastic ware there.
 
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Joined Aug 23, 2008
Overall, I prefer Cambro containers because of their durability and consistent sizing. We do use sour cream, yogurt and mayo/pickle jars when we run out of Cambros. I've always heard that they're banned in recent years, but have never had a health inspector say anything about them.
 
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Joined Sep 26, 2017
I prefer Cambro containers because of their durability and consistent sizing.

I think everyone prefers Cambro's. But they are just too expensive to be practical for most. If I wake up tomorrow and all my containers magically turned into Cambro's, I'd be over the moon.
 
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Joined Aug 23, 2008
I think everyone prefers Cambro's. But they are just too expensive to be practical for most. If I wake up tomorrow and all my containers magically turned into Cambro's, I'd be over the moon.
I agree to a point. Each year at my camp I receive $500-600 for a shopping trip to Resco in Reno for my beginning of season opportunity to load up on Cambros, utensils, serving platters, etc. They keep costs at a reasonable level. My multiyear goal is to stock up completely on Cambros.
 
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Been using mayo/pickle/sour cream buckets for years. Ye olde health inspector only remarks if the containers are heavily stained (tomato products) heavily scarred, chipped or cracked, or having strong odors. Basically this isn't a problem since you generate new containers all the time, and can swap out weekLy.

Cambros are fantastic, but expensive. They can crack easily if abused, and melt easily if abused. I try and get mine at used food eqpt. stores or auctions. I get stackable square containers with hinged lids for things like flour, sugar, spuds, etc. at Ikea
 

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