Food Truck Supplies and Equipment Buying Guide
When you’re starting a food truck business there’s a lot to think about, especially when it comes to food truck restaurant equipment and supplies.
Once you decide on your menu, you’ll have a better idea of what consumables you need but then there’s servicing, cooking and refrigeration equipment, smallwares, storage, and more.
You can start with the biggest items, then move to smaller and you can break them down into categories. For example, your biggest investment will be your commercial appliances. You’ll need storage space and space to prep your menu items. Then there are tools of the trade like chef knives, pots, pans, and items for serving and storing to cleanup and safety.
This guide will tell you what you need to furnish and kit your mobile business and what to consider before making purchases.
Cooking and Cooling Equipment
This is probably your biggest investment category, next to the truck itself, so really consider what you need. The other consideration is whether you’ll buy new or used. Remember that new items come with a warranty so be sure to ask your supplier what their timeline is for any maintenance issues that may arise. You don’t want to have a refrigerator on the fritz and watch all your fresh fruits and vegetables wither away.
You also need to decide how much room you have for your food truck equipment. Bonus, many of these items come in countertop options, perfect for small food trucks.
Commercial Deep Fryers are a must if you’re serving French fries, onion rings, chicken fingers, or other fried foods. Single or double basket fryers are probably the best size for a food truck, depending on how much space you have and how many of your menu items need to be deep-fried.
Commercial Ranges are an important investment when it comes to your food truck kitchen equipment. The biggest questions are size and whether you want natural gas, electric, or propane. You will need an exhaust hood for some ranges and to disperse strong smells.
Commercial Griddles and Grills can also be used to prepare grilled sandwiches. Countertop versions are also available as with most of the generally larger appliances.
Commercial Charbroiler lets you broil your meat or seafood giving them smoky flavours. So if you’re specializing in these menu items check this out.
Commercial Hotplates/Cooktops will be valuable as your customer base grows. A hot plate can be an extra standalone appliance or could be used instead of a commercial range if you don’t have as many menu items requiring range cooking.
Microwave ovens can save valuable time without taking up too much space in your food truck.
Commercial Refrigeration Depending on your menu, and space in the truck, you can go for a full-size fridge with stainless steel or glass doors (easy for staff to locate what they want and grab quickly grab it without missing a prep beat), but because you don’t have a spacious kitchen, an undercounter refrigerator is also a good choice. A sandwich/salad prep table could give you additional cooling space and the top can be used to prep sandwiches and salads with easy access to fresh vegetables underneath.
Freezer You can choose a refrigerator/freezer combination or a large freezer but, again, space may dictate your choice, so a chest freezer could be the solution. If you’re serving ice cream or other frozen delights on a hot summer day, you’ll need an ice cream freezer.
Beverage Dispensers If you’re selling cans of soda you probably want them stored in a beverage refrigerator. One with a glass door facing your patrons makes choosing their favourite drink easier than you rhyming off the choices multiple times a day. If you don’t have a lot of space consider a countertop merchandiser. For juices or pre-mixed drinks, like iced tea, you’ll want a beverage dispenser. For caffeine lovers, you can buy a simple coffee brewer for a quick pour up to a commercial espresso machine for lattes and other fancy beverages and several other brewing and coffee dispensing models in between.
Display warmers/merchandisers As things heat up in the kitchen countertop food warmers keep prepared pizza, buns, and other foods at safe temperatures until ready to serve during the rush hour.
Chafers, kettles, rethermalizers and countertop food warmers are often found in self-serve venues and buffets but they can also keep your food warm and stay ahead of the rush.
Food Truck Food Prep Supplies
This is probably your biggest category in terms of the number of items. From prep tables to food processors there’s a lot to think about when it comes to this category. And if you have specialty items you may also need special tools. Here are some of the general food prep appliances and tools used in the food truck industry.
Food Processor or Blender makes quick work of smoothie, soup, and sauce preparation. If you’re concerned about space an immersion blender might be the answer if it meets your menu prep requirements.
French Fry Cutter If fries using fresh potatoes are on your menu this is a real timesaver.
Knives A set of first-class knives is at the top of every chef’s list and you don’t want to scrimp on this. It means the difference between well-cut vegetables and meats versus shoddy-looking carrots and extra time to cut with dull knives. A wall rack might be a good choice for storing knives, giving cooks easy access to these slice and dice gems, and also freeing up counter space.
Cookware Frypans can do double duty for sauteing and steaming. Pots can be used to warm, simmer, boil, and create signature sauces. Buy just what you need these take up a lot of storage space and you can add more later if required.
Spatulas/Turners and Tongs for flipping and turning on your grill. Need we say more?
Worktable Depending on your setup and countertop space you may want to invest in a stainless-steel worktable. A wooden cutting board could be used on the top and moved around to other counter spaces. You can usually store things under a worktable, too.
Depending on your menu you might need some, or all, of these other food prep mobile restaurant supplies. Here are a few things to start you out.
- Bakeware: bake pans, cookie sheets, pizza pans, etc.
- Cooking Utensils: serving and stirring spoons, ladles, food dippers, dishers, whisks
- Foil/plastic wrap and dispensers: for quick wrapping without time-consuming fiddling for the end of the roll
- Measuring Cups and Measuring Spoons
- Meat Thermometers
- Mixing bowls
- Peelers and corers
- Pizza utensils, sandwich spreaders
- Food Storage Containers
- Skimmers and Strainers
Serving Supplies and Disposables
You’ll need to dish out the food and put it in something for the customers to take away. If you’re serving fare that requires self-serve condiments, you’ll need to factor that in too. You may be able to source some of these items (like take-out containers) in eco-friendly biodegradable formats – bonus! And though we list them here, straws may not be needed, depending on the cup lids you purchase.
- Disposable cutlery
- Disposable dinnerware including Paper Take-Out Boxes
- Plastic and/or Paper Cups, Lids, and Straws
- Gloves for serving
- Condiments and Condiment Containers: squeeze bottles, pumps or pourers
- Sugar and Dairy dispensers for coffee/tea
Show me the Money
A unique category but you get the idea. Your bottom line depends on payments for your products so you need to be prepared with:
- Guest Cheques – if you choose to go this route
- POS system for debit and credit
- Cash register or somewhere to put cash if customers want to pay that way
- Brooms, dustpans, mops, mop buckets, and scrub brushes for cleanup.
- Commercial Sink is a must for water in your ingredients, cleaning your smallwares, washing hands, etc. At the end of the day, you’ll need a sink full of soapy water to wash down the food truck too.
- Fire Extinguishers are necessary for any commercial kitchen. They should be replaced when they expire and all staff should know how to use them.
- First Aid Kit Be prepared for cuts or oil splashes.
- Floor Care and Counter Cleaning Products Dirt builds up on counters and the floor gets greasy and sticky so these are usually used throughout the day as well as closing time.
- Rubber Gloves
- Floor Mats for the kitchen reduces stress on knees and feet.
- Garbage and Trash cans with lids need no explanation.
- Recycle Containers Recycling is required in all municipalities so be sure to use these containers and know what goes into them.
- Aprons for your staff
- Cupboards and other storage space
- Logo shirts and jackets for staff (optional but how else will people know who the employees are and it’s free marketing for your business)
- Menu board
- Stools or small chairs for sitting or taking breaks
With the right equipment and supplies, your food truck business will be ready to serve. Your dazzling menu will keep them coming back.
Written by Suzanne Boles
Check out our article Food Truck Startup - Everything you need to know