As a third-year college student, I really started getting into courses directly related to my major. This past fall, I took courses such as Microbiology, Advanced Nutrition, and Quantity Food System Management (Quantity Foods for short). I enjoyed parts of all of these classes–and might review them in the future. But I far and away learned the most from my Quantity Foods class. Curious about what to expect in this course? Let me share!
Quantity Foods was one of those classes that, because I hadn’t known anybody who had taken it before me, I didn’t have much of a clue about what I was getting into. The wordy name didn’t help much either! So I felt a little nervous when our professor walked in the first day and welcomed us to the “infamous” Quantity Foods class. She explained that the class was a lot of work, but definitely doable as long as we put in the effort.
And what a lot of effort we had to put in! Part of the reason people get scared of this class is because there’s always something to do for that class. It was manageable, but if I didn’t have a good system to keep track of what I needed to do, I might have forgotten things. The components of the course were 3 exams, 2 group projects, and several homework assignments.
Quantity Foods Class Topics
Although it was hard to tell because of the detail in which we discussed the different subject areas, the course covered things most people would think of when they think about restaurant components, including cooking, equipment, and menu building. Then we moved through the details of ordering, receiving, storing, handling, and serving food, and everything in between. Initially, after I had started the course and had some idea of what it was about, I could never have imagined all the planning and details that went into each area of an operation! Those details could make the course overwhelming to some, but as long as you stay on top of studying you should be ok.
Like many classes, Quantity Foods had homework due every other class or so. Besides the tests, the projects were most important, or most time-consuming part.
Cycle Menu Project
We spent a little over half the semester working in groups towards the cycle menu. The concept was simple: make a menu similar to something you’d see in a school cafeteria or cruise ship. The catch was that over a week of recipes, we couldn’t use any of the same major ingredients (so we couldn’t have chicken pot pie one night and then chicken primavera a couple days later).
We spent our time creating a theme for the menu, finding enough meals to fill over seventy courses, converting recipes to correct units, and ensuring that it all fit the needs of the customer we had created. The cycle menu wasn’t not so much difficult as time-consuming. It took many, many hours of simple (and occasionally brain-numbing!) work.
The other major project in the class was to create a catering plan for a party. Again the project sounded simple at first, but over time we slowly realized that the plan required a bit more thought than we had assumed! For this project, we had a set budget and needed to figure out what our recipes were, how much they cost, what our staffing plan was like, and lots of other boring things that will only matter if you have to take the course :). My point is, projects matter!
In addition to all the individual worksheets we had for homework throughout the semester, my class came with four assignments that were either group work or slightly more time-consuming than homework. Again, the focus of most of these was building real-world skills.
The first assignment, a group project, involved a list of potential positions in a restaurant. We had to create our best idea of an organizational structure, so the restaurant’s employees could see the chain of command.
Our second assignment, also a group project, had us take several prix fixe menus and make improvements while also giving our reasons why. (Prix fixe: a menu where all the courses are set, with only one option for each! Imagine going to a fancy banquet rather than a restaurant)
The third assignment was a bit more hands-on. My department hosts dinners every fall that give a culinary class the chance to host a real dinner. My professor called the students from Quantity Foods in to help serve.
Finally, the fourth was to work in groups to find foodservice organizations in the area and do inventory with them. My group worked with the dining hall on my campus.
Overall Thoughts on Quantity Foods
I was at an open house the other day for the dietetic internship at my school. While I was there, one of the current interns said something about part of the internship: “It wasn’t my favorite, but that doesn’t mean it was bad.” That idea is applicable to a lot of things, especially parts of college, and this class was no exception. I didn’t necessarily enjoy Quantity Foods. If we’re being honest, if I did, I would probably be going into hospitality, not dietetics!
However, I think everybody learned a lot from the class. Part of that was the way the professor taught. (I’ve never met a professor that can be so tough and yet is so appreciated by the other students!). Part of it was the components of the course itself. Making the homework, projects, and assignments as close to real-life situations as possible makes a world of difference. I also appreciated that, for the dietetics students, this class would be very important on the RD exam. Although the exam has changed recently, our professor explained that the Quantity Foods material would comprise almost a third of the exam questions! Definitely keep your notes from this.
In conclusion, am I glad I took this course? Yes! Would I be excited to take it again? I think once is enough for me :).
How to Do Well in Quantity Foods
- Get started early on projects! The more you do when you can, the less likely you’ll be anxious about last-minute surprises.
- Do homework ASAP. By doing it right away, it’s one less thing to put on your calendar, which means one less thing to stress over!
- Learn how to memorize lists. The way my professor taught the Quantity Foods class, we had lots of lists that we needed to memorize. Get comfortable with a method of memorizing that works best for you.
- Try and find the fun. We covered many different topics and used many different skills in this class. Because of that, there’s bound to be something that you enjoy!
- Make connections. When I took this class, it covered topics that related to other things I had learned. Sometimes it even overlapped with other classes I took that semester! Topics within the course were connected to each other as well (remember this class follows food through the kitchen). Try and get a sense for the bigger picture.
Have you taken quantity food system management or a similar class? What did you gain from the class?