11 Ways to Reduce Restaurant Food Waste
Restaurant food waste is a growing issue in the United States. According to the USDA, around 133 billion pounds of food from stores, restaurants, and homes was wasted in 2010. The USDA also found that 30 to 40 percent of the United States’ food supply went to waste. The National Restaurant Association stated in their “Food Waste Issue Brief” that the amount of uneaten food from homes and restaurants in 2008 was valued at $390 per consumer. Food waste has a negative environmental impact, as well as an impact on restaurants’ bottom line. How can your restaurant avoid this issue? We have rounded up the top 11 ways restaurants can reduce food waste.
A restaurant’s ability to reduce food waste heavily depends on how closely it manages operations. The points in this section play an important part in the equation.
- Purchase food based on menu reporting metrics- Overstocking often leads to major food waste and a hole in your pocket. Avoid the impulse to overbuy during sales and stick to purchasing the necessities. To keep up with menu items to order, consider a kitchen display system that provides menu reporting and metrics.
- Inspect your food orders- Be sure to inspect all food orders upon arrival. If the food is spoiled or close to it, send back the order.
- Label items- Make sure that every food item has a label that includes what it is, when it arrived, and the use by date. When you are labeling the foods, ensure that you store it properly as well.
- Check inventory frequently- Having a list of every ingredient you have available will keep your restaurant organized and save money. Schedule a time each week to check your inventory.
- Train your staff on managing food waste- Think about how much food is wasted by staff bumping into each other and knocking over food and drinks. Restaurant movement is so important for your staff to learn to reduce food waste.
Whether its tracking the top sellers or repurposing ingredients, effective kitchen management will help restaurants lower food waste.
- Monitor portion sizes- One way to reduce food waste is reducing portion size. How can you disguise your smaller portion sizes? Smaller plates! This will make portions look larger and keep your customers happy.
- Kitchen technology– Utilizing technology like kitchen display systems can help your restaurant properly route and pace meals, leading to a more efficient back of house that’s serving higher quality food.
- Offer a focused menu- This can create a better guest experience and a more cost effective kitchen. Focused menus are less overwhelming to guests and speed up the ordering process. You will have fewer ingredients to order, too!
- Track the popularity of each dish- Why buy ingredients for recipes that no one’s eating? Tracking your most popular dishes is a huge money saver. Consider eliminating menu items that aren’t ordered often. If this is something you don’t want to track yourself, make sure that any technology you utilize has reporting and analytics tracking. If you need to get rid of the less popular menu items’ ingredients quickly, discount the menu item price so that you make use of the ingredients and still make a profit.
- Ensure food is the right temperature and quality when delivered to customers- Cold food will be sent back by the customer and end up in the garbage. Food that is the right temperature and quality creates a better guest experience and saves you cash.
- Repurpose Ingredients- Looking for a unique soup of the day? See what type of concoctions you can come up with from leftover ingredients.
- Donate the food- What better way to avoid food waste than to help those in need? There are plenty of food rescue organizations that will make sure your leftover food gets to someone that needs it.
No matter how many of these tips you implement, you are sure to see a difference. You’ll save money, waste less, improve the guest experience, and provide a positive environmental impact.
Want an easy way to keep track of these tips? Download our restaurant food waste checklist below.
About the Author
Emily Wimpsett was a Content & Social Media Specialist at QSR Automations. Emily was born and raised in Louisville, but considers herself a die-hard University of Kentucky fan. For college, Emily attended Indiana University Southeast and obtained a degree in Communications with a track in Advertising. In her free time, Emily enjoys just about every water related activity, but she is partial to kayaking and whitewater rafting.