Tips to Reduce Food Waste in Your Restaurant

An ongoing issue for many restaurants is food waste. Whether it’s food spoiling in the refrigerator, being left behind on plates, or being ruined by employees, reducing food waste should be high on your priority list.

Track Everything

The first thing you need to do is set up a tracking system that allows you to see exactly how much food is used each day. This will help you sort out just how much you need to order. Often, over ordering items results in the decay of food that should have been used.

The other thing you will need to track is your inventory. Do you know how many of each ingredient you have on hand? Or are you simply placing the same order each week? Guessing how much butter you have in the fridge could result in some of it going bad when you keep ordering too much.

No restaurant manager wants to end up running out of food, but that’s why keeping track of everything is so helpful. It allows you to ensure you have just the right amount of food every time. Even if you have a little extra, it won’t be a ridiculous amount.

Check Your Shipments

When taking a delivery, it’s important to double check the ingredients being delivered. If they’re not in good condition, you should reject them. Taking delivery of something that will only spoil in a day or so is a certain loss. You’ll need to ensure that everything is as you ordered it and ready to go. Sometimes, an order is mixed up and you end up with too much of an item. If this occurs and there’s no way to preserve it, you end up with high levels of food loss.

Ensure Your Equipment is Working Well

Faulty equipment can result in far more food waste than anticipated. For example, if the freezer temperature rises too much, everything in the freezer could spoil. Likewise, if a cooker is not heating properly, food may be easily burned or could take too long to cook, rendering it useless.

Temperature control is essential if you want to keep food good. This means it must be held at safe temperatures as much as possible, chilled rapidly when necessary, and generally kept in ideal conditions. This is only possible when you have properly functioning equipment.

Reduce Portion Sizes

Does every plate come back with food on it? If so, you may have a problem with portion sizes. Often, it’s the side dish that is returned and depending on what you prefer, you may want to reduce this or even eliminate it and offer sides separately. Chips are the most commonly wasted, but vegetables may also be left aside if it isn’t part of the main dish.

To reduce the problem here, you can adjust portion sizes to ensure customers are full, but not overly stuffed and can finish most, if not all, their food. You may also provide more options for the extras so they can select the item they are most likely to enjoy and finish. Every step toward less food waste is a helpful one.

Keep Food Separated

Cross contamination is an issue in the kitchen if you don’t take care. Ensure that employees are aware of how to prevent this problem. By keeping foods separate, you can help prevent foodborne illnesses and ensure your food doesn’t spoil faster. There’s also less need to throw food away because it came in contact with something else.

Taking care during food prep will help you reduce the need to eliminate food. It ensures you save money and reduce waste.

Use Leftovers and Waste

Of course, you shouldn’t use rubbish, but you can certainly use the trimmings from steaks to render them down for fat. Old bread makes wonderful croutons, as well as breadcrumbs. Peels and bits from vegetables can be used in stocks and fruit peels may be used for compote or purees.

Baked potato skins are another simple and delicious way to use up your waste and they can be quite popular on the menu.

Take a closer look at the food that is beginning to reach the end of its useful life. What can you do with it? You may be surprised at how many uses there are.

Send Food Home

If a customer doesn’t finish their food, you may want to offer a takeaway box for the remaining food. Since the food cannot be used at all in the restaurant, it’s destined for the rubbish and can result in plenty of waste. However, if they take it home, they can easily eat the remainder later on.  It may even be shared by others. 

Rotate Your Stock

It’s also quite important to rotate any stock you have. The older items should be used first, even if the food is non-perishable. This will ensure nothing is left to spoil or go past its best by date. The simplest way to do this is to place new shipments of food at the back of the shelf and move everything forward. You may prefer to set items up on shelves in order and simply slide them to the left or right when new product comes in.

It’s always a good idea to label any food that is moved into a separate container, as well. For example, you may

Whichever method you use, be sure to be consistent and to train all employees to do the same. When everyone is using the same system, it’s much easier to prevent food waste.

Preserve What You Can

When you have too much food to use up before it goes off, consider other ways to preserve it. Perhaps you can freeze the rest of the can of marinara sauce, or chop and freeze the extra peppers you have. It’s always preferable to save what you can rather than throw it away, even if that means it ends up in soup later on due to textural changes.

Consider Donation

Do you have a box of peaches that are ready to be used, but no orders for peach pie? You may want to consider donating them to a local homeless shelter or anywhere that helps provide food to the less fortunate. Not only do you ensure nothing goes to waste, you can feed people who may not have access to this type of food.

Many restaurants even donate pre-made food. If you cook large batches of certain foods, such as soup, chili, etc. it’s possible you’ll have food left at the end of shift. This may be donated to ensure that it is used and eaten, rather than sending it off to the rubbish bin.

Consider a Compost Bin

Some cities offer composting services, but you may also wish to start your own compost. There are quite a few products on the market that speed the process up and with the amount of waste provided by the restaurant, you’ll soon have usable soil for gardening or giving away.

Just keep in mind that you cannot add meat or fat to a compost bin, so it is for vegetable-based items only.

With food waste such a massive problem throughout the UK, it’s important that every restaurant take steps to reduce their waste. These tips should help you get started, but you can always look at more options and keep an eye out for new opportunities.

At Freshways, we provide you with the freshest possible ingredients to ensure they last as long as possible. With temperature-controlled delivery, you’ll get high quality ingredients, ready to be put to use. Contact us today to learn more about our product selection.