According to the Waste and Resource Action Programme, the food sector produces thousands of tons of unavoidable waste every year, this waste would definitely cost the restaurant sector millions. Therefore it is high time that restaurants learn to reduce food waste so as to save business money in course of time.
Some Tips to Reduce Food Waste in Restaurants
Over-ordering Stock to be Checked – Make sure to buy the ingredients that you would be using for your business. Buying in bulk could be tempting sometimes, when there is a good deal from the supplier, but this could leave you with more food ingredients than needed. If not stored in the right way or right place, the food can get spoiled and go to waste.
Food Storage – Since food needs the right temperature when they are stored, you need to make sure the fridge and freezers are fixed at the right temperature. This would lower the risk of food spoilage and going to waste. Make sure you store low risk foods at higher shelves than the high risk ones, keep the storage areas clean and tidy. This method of food storage would ensure better preservation of food and also preserve their quality, prevent growth of pathogenic bacteria on the food, helping you reduce food waste in your restaurant.
Regular rotation of Stock – It is best to use the FIFO method, which means “first in first out” for foods on display for sale. The process helps newer stock be placed behind older stock so that older stuff is used up first before it goes out as waste.
Temperature Control – In order to ensure that food stock is safe from growth of harmful pathogenic bacteria, the right temperature has to be maintained while storing food stock in a restaurant. In such a case, the food would not get spoiled hence reducing food waste to a great extent. The processes like cooling hot food quickly, reheating food to the correct core temperature (at least 70 degreesC for 2 mins), high risk foods to be stored in the fridge (1-4 degrees C), and freezers need -18 degrees C, hot/cold holding at safe temperature (above 63 degrees C and below 8 degrees C).
Labelling Food Stock – When food is being stored in different containers, make sure that they are clearly labelled with allergens, date information and product description. Such disciplined labelling makes it easier to keep track of what food stock is available, what you need, also prevents unlabelled containers from being thrown away by mistake or you are not aware of what is there inside.
Stock Inventory to be Maintained – Another interesting way to reduce food waste is to know exactly which foods are available in stock at all times. This actually means that every restaurateur should keep a detailed list of food in your storage rooms which includes their use-by/best before dates, so that you can refer whenever you need them. This method avoids or reduces food waste in restaurants to a large extent.
Pay Attention to use-by Dates – There have been estimates that 21% of restaurant food waste is do to food spoilage, therefore it is essential that you have a reliable stock management and stock rotation (FIFO) method in place so that food doesn’t spoil or go out of date before being used. Remember to check use-by dates on an everyday basis for best results.
Check Deliveries against order specification – Ensure that you accept only the food that you have ordered to prevent or reduce food waste in your restaurant. Also keep a watch on food stock delivered with visible spoilage, damage or incorrect temperature, as they can anyway get spoiled soon. Also check the expiry dates of any food stock that you may have ordered
Choose portion control – Be aware of big food portions and extra-large side dishes as quality is always preferred to quantity. A study on food preferences found that over 25% of the people leave food at the end as fast foods like french fries or chips are preferred to other food stuff. The reason behind this being, customers fries, vegetables and salads are out of the main menu that has not been ordered.
Donate leftovers to a Local Charity – Ensure to link with local charitable homes where you can donate all leftover foods and ingredients to people who are in dire need. Thus you are sure that your leftover food goes to a good home rather than waste.
Gauge demand and supply accordingly – While preparing certain food items in advance, plan carefully to cook in limited batches instead of large batches as food may not be used up in the latter case bringing about food waste at your restaurant. Although large batch cooking saves time, there could be wastage of both money and food.
Provide more options in your menu – While preparing a menu, you can ask your customers if they would need chips/salad with every main meal, this helps reduce food waste in a restaurant. Give your customers a choice between fries, vegetables or salads or even better these items can be left on the menu as side dishes which come with a price, so that customers can purchase them if they really want to eat them.
Use food efficiently, even the leftovers – Do not be in a hurry to throw away leftovers as they can be incorporated in something else, for example, vegetable peelings and animal bones can be used to make stocks and soups, while a day old bread could be used for bread crumbs in soups.
Compost from food waste – Instead of throwing away food waste into landfills, you can put them away into a compost bin that can be used later. This can include fruit and vegetable peelings, old bread products, grains, coffee ground and tea bags. This would not include meat, fish and dairy products.
Customers may wish to take leftovers – Studies have shown that 34% of food waste is food left on customer’s plates, therefore it is fine to offer your customers an option to take back home for a dog at home. Although all kinds of food cannot be taken back, pizza slices can be easily put back in a box to go back home.This helps reduce food waste to a certain extent.
Buffets or self service counters should not have trays – When people are handed over plates to serve for themselves, there is a better chance that they serve only how much they can eat instead of piling food and later going to waste. They would not carry excess food on their plate reducing food waste.
Train employees to reduce waste – The law for food safety clearly instructs that food handlers should be trained in food safety, and extend this to teach them to reduce waste too. If the preparation of food is not of good quality, it goes on to be added to food waste. About 45% of food waste comes because of the poor quality of food. Therefore the staff need to be given proper training as to how they can learn to store food correctly. Some important points to remember are; store food correctly, cook food correctly, keep premises clean and avoid cross contamination of food stuff.
Apply all the above tips and reduce food waste in your restaurant, and enjoy a successful business of serving your customers with delicious food along with least food waste.