Inventory Management

How to Manage Restaurant Supplies

July 1, 2024 • 6 min read

When it comes to inventory management, restaurants in particular understand how important it is to know what’s in stock, how much of it there is, and when it needs to be used or tossed. But food and drink aren’t the only inventory that restaurants need to track. Many restaurants also rely on a restaurant supply list to keep track of inventory—and drive efficiency.

In this article, we will touch on the benefits of maintaining a restaurant kitchen supply list and how to create a restaurant supply list that helps your restaurant run more smoothly. Additionally, we will supply a free restaurant supply list template to help you get started with your tracking.


What are restaurant supplies? 

In general, restaurant supplies refer to the “non-food and drink” supplies used for business operations. In other words, restaurant supplies refer to items such as to-go bags and containers, cups, napkins, utensils, and, sometimes, equipment such as stand mixers or light “assets” such as sheet trays.  

What you consider restaurant supplies is, to some extent, up to your business to determine. Often, if your restaurant has an accounting department, that team will also have a say in how these items are categorized. That’s because how they are sorted can affect profit and loss reporting that winds up on your business’s tax returns.

Related: How To Manage Restaurant Inventory 

Determining what goes on your restaurant supply list

Deciding what inventory to list on your restaurant supply list goes hand in hand with determining what your restaurant considers a “supply”. Whatever you and your accountant have decided, that is what inventory should be listed on your template.

If defining what constitutes a restaurant supply seems confusing, one solution is to create subcategories of restaurant supplies that make sense to you and the rest of your team. For example, to-go containers and other auxiliary service items could be grouped into one supply category. In contrast, equipment such as baking pans and dishes could go in another, and machinery could go in a third. 

Again, many businesses do not categorize machinery, equipment, or anything that will depreciate (i.e., an asset) as a supply, as this can lead to accounting confusion. If your business considers machinery or equipment “supplies,” it is best to keep these lists separated or categorized differently so that accounting can differentiate between a consumable supply and an asset.

Two employees making pizza in restaurant kitchen

How to create a restaurant supply list

Now that you’ve determined what items belong on your restaurant kitchen supply list, you’ll need to start writing down every item for a “master list”. You can do this on a sheet of paper, using a spreadsheet, or within inventory management software.

Typically, a manual inventory list won’t be sustainable if your business has more than a dozen or two types of restaurant supplies in stock. In that case, consider using either a spreadsheet or restaurant inventory management software. Both of these will do a better job of helping you keep track of key details about each item, especially if more than one person needs to access or update these lists.

Whether you’re using a spreadsheet or an app, it’s essential to input all the necessary details about each item in that item’s row or inventory profile. Details to track include item name, location, quantity on hand, purchase price, vendor, and more. One benefit of using inventory management software instead of a spreadsheet is that you can sync barcodes and QR codes to corresponding items. Additionally, you can upload high-resolution photos of each item, which can be helpful since so many kitchen supplies look and sound alike.


How to keep track of restaurant supplies

 Once you’ve created your restaurant kitchen supply list, you’ll want to devise a strategy for keeping track of these items. There are two different strategies for this. One is to implement a perpetual inventory management strategy in which, every time a supply is consumed, the quantity or location of that item is updated via barcode or QR code scan. This system is much simpler than it sounds, provided your restaurant uses inventory software that enables lightning-fast in-app barcode and QR code scanning.

That said, some restaurants would rather take manual inventory counts once a day or once a week and then update inventory and supply lists accordingly. In this case, a spreadsheet would work just fine. 

Do keep in mind, though, that updating inventory counts or details manually increases the likelihood of human error. Data gets transposed incorrectly, cells get jumbled, and items that look and sound alike are confused during audits and counts. Using barcodes and QR codes can eliminate the risk of human error since every code is unique, and it’s impossible for the scanner to pull up the wrong item.

If you want to perform manual inventory counts, it’s recommended to occasionally audit these findings to ensure what you have on record matches what you have on paper.


Restaurant supply list template

 You can use this customizable restaurant supply list template to start tracking your restaurant supplies today. The template makes it easy to add the restaurant supplies you keep on hand, punch in all the critical details you want to track, and then get on with your day. 

If you decide to switch to Sortly for easier inventory management, this supply list can be easily imported, populating your inventory data in seconds. This eliminates the need for manual data entry, and allows a smooth, easy transition to the Sortly platform. 

Free Download: Restaurant Kitchen Supply List Template

Download our free restaurant kitchen supply inventory template today! The template is pre-populated with common restaurant inventory and supplies but is totally customizable–feel free to add your items along with custom details, rows, and columns specific to your restaurant's inventory. 


About Sortly

Restaurant inventory management app shown on a smartphone

Sortly is an inventory management solution that helps you track, manage, and organize your inventory from any device, in any location. We’re an easy-to-use inventory software that’s perfect for large or small businesses. Sortly builds inventory tracking seamlessly into your workday so you can save time and money, satisfy your customers, and help your business succeed.

With Sortly, you can track inventory, supplies, parts, tools, assets like equipment and machinery, and anything else that matters to your business. It comes equipped with smart features like barcoding & QR codinglow stock alertscustomizable foldersdata-rich reporting, and much more. Best of all, you can update inventory right from your smartphone, whether you’re  on the job, in the warehouse, or on the go.

Whether you’re just getting started with inventory management or you’re an expert looking for a more efficient solution, we can transform how your company manages inventory—so you can focus on building your business. That’s why over 15,000 businesses globally trust us as their inventory management solution.

Start your two-week free trial of Sortly today.