Nothing feels worse when you have to throw food away because it has spoiled. You lament the money you spent on it and the meals you could have created with it. For a restaurant food waste can deeply affect overall profitability. But food waste isn’t just an issue in the home and restaurant: it’s a global issue. In fact in 2014 more than 38 million tons of food waste was generated across the globe. There’s currently a movement to reduce waste at home, so why should restaurants not also work towards the same goal?
There’s no denying that reducing food waste has major benefits for overall expenses, but it also helps you leave a smaller environmental footprint. That’s something your customers will probably want to hear. We’ve researched the best ways to work on reducing your food waste for a more streamlined back of house and a better world.
Create a detailed log for ordering
The worst thing is to end up at the end of the week with a mysterious plethora of tomatoes that are about to go rotten. Keeping detailed charts of how much of a particular ingredient you go through in a week will help you order just the right amount- not too much, not too little. On a macro-level it will also help you see which dishes aren’t performing well that may need to be changed out for something new on the menu.
Check your shipments
When you get your food shipment in don’t be shy about looking through it when your delivery person is still there. It might be a bit uncomfortable but when it comes down to it you know what you’re looking for in terms of freshness and taste. Don’t be shy about sending something back if it’s not right or if the expiration date is too close to the delivery date.
Store goods properly
Maintaining the correct fridge and freezer temperatures will help ensure your goods don’t spoil as quickly. Have your staff practice patience when putting hot items into cool areas. If they wait for them to cool a bit before storing, the items won’t make the temperature in the fridge vary as much. Double check to make sure your containers are sealed tight on your dry goods so you don’t risk them either cross-contamination, getting stale, or spillage. And of course, label everything with the date, what it is, and when it will probably expire.
Research composting options
Sometimes things go bad. It happens even to the most diligent of kitchen managers and owners. In the event something spoils, see what community composting options you might have. Composting will help reduce the amount you contribute to the landfill and give you some great talking points with your customers. Ask the composting company to feature you and your restaurant. You are doing the environment good- talk about it! Remember, there is a growing trend of customers caring about the stewardship of the restaurants they frequent more and more these days.
Create specials to use almost-expired ingredients
Do you have chicken, spinach, and tomatoes that are all almost at their expiration date? Well, now is your chance to stretch those creative muscles. Whip up a chalkboard special with ingredients that in a few days you’ll have to throw away anyway. Not only will you use that food you already paid for, but your regular guests will have new things to try from your kitchen. You might even find a new favorite for your menu!
At the end of the day reducing your food waste will help you spend less money on food costs. Plain and simple. For calculating food cost, please see our article “How to Calculate Food Cost in a Restaurant.” If you want to learn more about reducing food costs, our article “8 Tips for Keeping Your Food Costs Low” is perfect for you.