Top Tips for Reducing Food Waste in Your Cafe or Restaurant

We each have a responsibility to analyse, evaluate and reduce our environmental footprint, and for many of us, looking at the way we eat can help to make significant changes. Crucially, we need to consider what foods we eat and how we manage the food waste we generate. For cafes and restaurants, putting measures in place to reduce the food waste they produce is absolutely critical, as this is one of the most effective ways for businesses in the catering industry to minimise their environmental impact.

As wholesale milk and baked good suppliers, we have a long history of working with cafes, restaurants and other dining establishments throughout the UK. This has given us great insight into the food preparation and catering industry and the many challenges businesses face – including the issue of organic waste. To help the industry make positive changes in 2021, here are our top tips for reducing food waste in your cafe or restaurant.

Track how much you waste

Before you can make tangible changes to your business, you first need to figure out exactly where and why the problem is occurring. By figuring out how much food you waste, what ingredients you waste the most of and what days you waste the most food on, you can set realistic goals to help your cafe or restaurant become more sustainable.

You will be able to get a lot of this information by talking to your food preparation staff, waiting team and kitchen porters, as these are your on-the-ground staff responsible for running your kitchen. Do they have any ideas on how to tackle your food waste problem? Do they know which meals are the most and least popular? How many times a day do they fill the food waste bin? The answers to these questions will help you better understand the issue and think of positive solutions.

Only order the food you need

Start tracking how much food your business disposes of every month. You can use this information to help you judge the number of ingredients you need more accurately. Next time you order fresh food products from your chosen wholesaler, you can make sure that you aren’t purchasing more than your restaurant requires. Over-ordering will only contribute to your waste problem further, so take the time to analyse your food orders and figure out a more eco-friendly way to shop.

We understand that ordering too much or too little is a big concern for our customers, which is why we make it easier than ever for our clients to manage their Freshways account. We offer online ordering, so you can check back over previous deliveries to oversee and monitor quantities.

Slim down your menu

We all love having lots of choice when dining out, but for kitchens, this often means ordering lots of different ingredients that are only used for one or two dishes. If you go through a week where those particular dishes aren’t popular, you will probably have to throw these ingredients out again. Over time, this will contribute to huge amounts of food waste, which will likely end up rotting in a nearby landfill site if it isn’t recycled properly.

Luckily, this is avoidable. All it takes is to think carefully about your menu and which dishes aren’t popular amongst your diners. By trimming these from your menu, you’ll reduce how much food waste you produce and allow your cooking staff more time to specialise in a select few tasty dishes!

Offer smaller portion sizes

If your restaurant is known for its large portions that very few customers can finish, it may be time to consider downsizing your plates. It is highly unlikely that your diners will notice if you make the change gradually, but serving slightly fewer chips or one less ladle of soup could make all the difference to your food waste bin. Remember, quality is more important than quantity.

If reducing your portion sizes isn’t an option, consider offering biodegradable containers to any diners who cannot finish their meal. After all, they may be in the mood to finish the meal later on in the evening.

Find ways to use leftovers

If you put your mind to it, you will find lots of innovative ways to use up leftover ingredients in your cafe or restaurant. This could be signing up to a food waste app that sells unused goods at a discounted price to customers in the local area, or finding creative ways to use vegetable peelings in broths and sauces.

Even just a few small tweaks to your menu could help to avoid waste! For instance, if you are constantly throwing away carrots, why not find a way to incorporate them into your popular dishes? Or, if you have a whole lot of tomatoes that are reaching their use-by date, why not make this week’s menu special a cream of tomato soup? This ‘out of the box’ thinking will keep your customers full and your food waste bin empty!

Confirm orders with diners

One very simple way to slim down how much food waste your business produces is to ask your waiting staff to double-check a diners’ order before sending it to the kitchen. Simple questions such as, “would you like your burger with or without salad?” could prevent a whole lot of lettuce from being thrown in the bin. It can be tempting to pack your meals with additional sides and extras to make them appealing to your customers, but it’s important to think about the environmental repercussions of doing so.

Confirming orders with customers will also allow your waiting staff to double-check they have written everything down correctly. If a meal request is recorded improperly, the food will likely end up being thrown away by your disgruntled chefs. Even small communication errors could be responsible for additional food waste.

Find reliable wholesale suppliers

We’ve all felt the frustration of buying bread from the local supermarket, only to get home and realise it’s gone stale or mouldy just a day or two after purchase. For restaurants, dealing with this on a larger scale can be extremely wasteful. Because of this, many catering establishments purchase their food and drinks products wholesale.

By purchasing products from wholesalers you trust, such as Freshways, you can rest assured that the food delivered to your premises is of the highest quality. This is something you can’t always guarantee when shopping at supermarkets or elsewhere, as you won’t have full transparency into the freshness and quality of the product.

There are many other time and money-saving benefits to working with wholesalers if you run a kitchen. By shopping wholesale, you can take advantage of bulk discounts, fill your kitchen with industry-leading brands and products with just one order, and make sure you are never out of your diners’ favourite foods!

Store your food correctly

Storing your ingredients properly isn’t just a health and safety requirement. If fresh ingredients aren’t stored correctly, they will perish more quickly than they should, meaning they will need to be binned and new ingredients bought. A simple way to extend the shelf life of your ingredients is to optimise your storage solutions, taking into account factors such as temperature and cross-contamination.

For more of our food storage tips, check out our article: A Yoghurt Supplier’s Tips On Organising Your Stockroom and Correctly Storing Dairy Products.

Freshways: Wholesale foods and dairy products for delivery across the UK

At Freshways, we’re proud to be the UK’s largest independent processing dairy, with a wide range of delicious products available to purchase wholesale from our headquarters in London. We work with a wide variety of clients, ranging from large retailers to family-run cafes, offering exceptional service every time. Whether you’re looking for wholesale dairy products or baked goods from leading brands like Hovis and Kingsmill, you needn’t look further than Freshways.

To learn more about our range of wholesale food products and delivery services, please don’t hesitate to contact us today. Our friendly team looks forward to working with you!