Food is money. Yet $1.6 billion of it is thrown away each year by US restaurants alone. As if that weren’t enough, food waste is
1. Assess Your Menu Offerings
you know that 4-10% of food at your restaurant doesn’t even make it to a
plate? The main reasons for this include overstocking, overproduction,
and spoilage. Fortunately, all of these problems can be minimized. The
first step to reducing food waste is to assess your menu offerings.
Using data collected from your point of sale and back office software,
you can evaluate dishes in terms of demand, volume, and profitability.
You should focus on meals that can be produced effectively and with
strong margins, and remove those that result in wasted batches.
2. Adjust Your Purchasing
you know which dishes to serve, you should adjust your purchasing
accordingly. Your restaurant can minimize food waste by carrying only
what you need in the quantities that are necessary. This can be
determined using back office software like SynergySuite,
which offers intelligent automated ordering features and live inventory
depletion. Tip: Placing smaller product orders more frequently will
actually prove to be more cost-effective than purchasing (and ultimately
wasting) large amounts of food.
3. Track Your Food Waste
The trash is probably the last place you would think to look, but it is actually a good source of insight. Many restaurateurs have adopted a practice known as a waste audit in which a day’s worth of restaurant trash is collected and sorted for analysis. As a team, the kitchen staff records and evaluates the contents, quantities, and reasons for disposal of each item. Though it may seem tedious, the savings and insight gained from a waste audit is well worth it. Restaurants often discover that they are throwing out food that could actually be repurposed, recycled, or saved for later use. In fact, typically 84% of unused food goes to waste in American restaurants.
food and wasted time by establishing a system for collecting, storing,
and using ingredients. Restaurants can minimize problems from the start
by carefully inspecting all products received from suppliers for
spoilage or damage. Ensuring the order is correct and of good quality
will reduce the amount of unusable ingredients coming into the
restaurant and help maintain an accurate and stable inventory. Managers
can also coordinate with vendors to receive goods at varying levels of
ripeness according to when they will need each ingredient.
4. Ensure Proper Storage
Once the food has been accepted, it is critical that it be stored properly. Careful attention to storage procedures, time, and temperatures will maximize the shelf life of ingredients and prevent foods from going bad. Platforms like SynergySuite allow restaurants to streamline this process by monitoring food and equipment temperatures, alerting management to issues before they become a problem.
Organization is key to effective inventory management.
All food–whether in the fridge, freezer, or dry storage–should be
properly labeled and dated upon collection. This way, it is clear if
ingredients are good for use or past their expiration. Kitchen staff
should also adopt a first in, first out method for using ingredients in
order to utilize older inventory first. Developing a kitchen SOP, or
standard operating procedure, will help to ensure food safety and
cost-effective use of product.
5. Train Your Staff Properly
Reducing food waste is not a one person job. The restaurant manager, as well as the entire restaurant staff, need to be on-board. Workers should be trained to prepare food properly in order to maximize yield and avoid mistakes. Assigning more experienced chefs to handle dishes with expensive ingredients will help to minimize waste and costs. Familiarity with recipes will also enable staff to utilize leftover food in other dishes, rather than throwing them away.
Change starts from within.
Educating workers on the cost of food may lead them to use ingredients
more mindfully, as if they were purchased with their own money. Adopting
a food-conscious mentality at the restaurant may also result in less
post-consumer food waste. Waiters can suggest orders that are optimal
for the number of people dining as well as encourage guests to take home
Reducing food waste can yield significant results not only for restaurants, but also the environment. A study by Unilever revealed that 72% of US diners care about how food waste is handled and almost half would be willing to spend more to dine at a waste-conscious restaurant. Simply making small changes to the way purchasing and staff are managed can lead to big payoffs that will benefit everyone.