Making Your Supply List for Your Food Trailer

November 21, 2012

Now that you have created your menu, it’s time to make a supply list. Your supply list is going to be directly based off of the requirements to cook and produce your menu items. This list is comparable to putting together a shopping or grocery list. You must be as specific as possible concerning the kind, quality, and quantity of the items on your list.

Since most suppliers deal with their products using a categorical classification system, you should list the supplies that you need for your food trailer business in groups, such as “dairy,” “fresh produce,” and “meats/poultry.” Grouping your supply list like this will save you time and money on your food purchases.

Although you may not be able to complete this list before you find your supplier, your list needs to be as complete as it can be. This includes adding a projected weekly volume for your food trailer’s usage, meaning how much you expect your food trailer to use in a week. In this way, the supplier will be able to help you determine what type of unit sizes you can get for each specific category (cases, weights, etc.).

To estimate your projected weekly volume, the easiest way to do this is by breaking each menu item into ingredients and the amounts needed for each serving. You can then multiple these totals with your projected weekly sales count for each menu item. It is vital to be as accurate as possible, given that at least half – if not most – of your ingredients will have short expiration dates. Although calculating everything out will take you a little longer than if you were just to guess, it will save you a lot of time in the future.

So, once you have your complete supplies list and your projected weekly volumes for your food trailer, where do you find a supplier that’s right for you?

When looking for a supplier, search out one that you can have a long-term, strong relationship with. You need a supplier that’s dependable and trustworthy. After all, the quality and quantity of the meals that your food truck produces are dependent on the supplier. Your ultimate goal when searching for a supplier is to find one who will offer you high-quality food with good pricing.

Here are some ways to find excellent suppliers for your food trailer business:

  • Ask food truck and restaurant owners in your area
  • Search online for local food suppliers. These sites may be of interest: and
  • Go to restaurant industry trade shows.
  • Group up with fellow food trailer owners to order from national suppliers, such as Sysco or US Foods – oftentimes you may find that their minimum orders are too high for a single food truck.

After you’ve developed a list of suppliers that meet the criteria that you’re looking for, interview each one that has the qualities and prices that you’re looking for.