Food waste is an unfortunate reality for all restaurants. In total, food waste costs restaurants $162 billion in total per year due to product spoilage, miscalculated portions and orders, food spillage, and refires.
Luckily, you can use certain tactics to minimize restaurant waste, saving your business money and reducing your environmental impact.
Reducing food waste in your restaurant offers the following benefits:
Food waste reduction requires careful management tactics. Begin with waste audits to determine your current rate, so you can locate problem areas.
For example, you may notice that 56% of your wasted food comes from spoilage, 13% comes from customers sending food back (refires), and 23% comes from over-servings with food left on the table. Once you understand your problem areas, use these food waste reduction tips below.
Knowing how much food to order for your restaurant isn’t easy, but you can refine it based on data. View past ordering trends with spoilage figures to locate which items you typically don’t use by the end of the day or week.
Over-buying also includes over-preparing. Certain products, like frozen foods or sealed cans, will spoil quickly once thawed, opened, and prepared. Your staff should only prepare the required food per day to limit spoilage.
Storage directly impacts how long food lasts. While it may seem obvious to refrigerate certain foods, you can make ingredients last longer by using more detailed storage tactics.
For example, storing carrots in water to maintain moisture can help the veggie last longer. You can freeze certain products to elongate shelf lives and research the best storage methods for the rest.
Often, food spoils when your staff forgets it’s there. You may order a pound of dry lentils, unaware that you already have three pounds in the back of the pantry collecting dust.
Clear, noticeable labels help your staff find the items they need, which prevents you from ordering in excess.
Customers typically leave 17% of their food on the table, with only about half of diners bringing leftovers home. Post-production waste directly relates to portion control.
Review your waste audit to determine how much your portion control relates to wasted food. If you’re throwing out uneaten food from diners’ plates, reduce your portions.
Serving a dozen veggies across your entrees creates unnecessary ordering complexity and excessive spoilage. You cannot always predict which meals people will order, which means certain ingredients will go to waste. Try using a set of core ingredients across dishes to streamline the process.
Your restaurant will still generate waste, even when using the tactics above. However, unused food doesn’t have to go in the trash. Donate it to charity or send it home with your staff.
Understanding how to reduce your restaurant waste isn’t easy. Conducting a waste audit, locating problem areas, and determining an improvement plan requires careful data analysis.
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