Once you understand what is being wasted in your business and why, you can begin to reduce this waste by implementing some of these many solutions that will also help you save money and build a more dedicated team and customer following.
Many restaurants have made huge decreases in their waste through adjustments in ordering, storing, preparing, and serving practices. In order to maximize financial benefit and make the greatest impact on community health, follow the hierarchy of waste solutions below. Because prevention of waste has the highest impact of environmental and community health, we should start by focussing on ways to prevent waste from occurring in the first place.
Adapted from ReFED
Each process within a food producing business can be fine tuned to minimize food waste. Below are the top suggestions to reduce waste in each category. Find out more about each practice by reviewing the helpful resources below.
There are many ways to fine tune purchasing practices to make sure you will use everything you are buying. Some practices to look at are adjusting with demand fluctuation, consistency in inventory practices, and buying high quality items with longer shelf life. For more techniques see the resources below.
Proper storage practices can ensure ingredients don't spoil before getting put to use. Get familiar with optimal storage techniques for each item you stock and keep up important practices such as first in first out and preventative maintenance.
The menu is the keystone to minimizing waste on both the back and front of house. Efficiency, flexibility, and creativity in a menu can make waste reduction easy. Try implementing specials, building in menu items that repurpose ingredients, and avoiding costly one-off ingredients.
We can get so much more out of our ingredients by learning to use and reuse to the fullest extent. Some useful preparation techniques that reduce waste are nose-to-tail, root-to-stock, and just-in-time cooking.
Restaurants have a lot of influence over the behaviors of their customers and can minimize plate waste through serving techniques such as using smaller plates, offering complimentary sides before automatically serving them, and using garnishes that are likely to be eaten or are repurposed trim scraps.
Read more about Food Waste reduction strategies:
- Guide to Food Waste Reduction - Center for EcoTechnology & Solana Center
- Guide to Food Waste Separation - Center for EcoTechnology & Solana Center
- Reducing Wasted Food & Packaging: A Guide for Restaurants - EPA
- Food Recovery Challenge - EPA
- Recipes for scraps, past its prime, and more - Save The Food