One of the major issues the restaurants face is waste management. Managers are trying to fight this issue not only to have a more sustainable business, but also to save money. A study conducted by the University of Arizona revealed that in fast-food restaurants, the food waste amounts to 9.55% of the total food purchased, whereas in full service restaurants it reaches 11.3%. These numbers are concerning when you take into account that food is the second largest expense in the restaurant industry, right after employees’ salaries. Every restaurant takes different measures to tackle this issue while others are trying to reach a zero-waste model. This model is hard to reach currently, but you could tackle this issue by implementing 7 strategies to reduce waste in your kitchen and save cost and resources.
Get your whole team involved in this process, teach them about waste management and make sure that they implement the required measures to manage waste. If your team is big enough, you can appoint one person or more to be the one following up with efforts being made.
Keep a track record of your waste and try to analyze this data. The data would give you a good inside on what items go to waste more than others. Understand what is the main reason for waste in your kitchen, is it poor inventory management, over stocking, or customers’ waste? Try to understand the lead cause in order to have a better and a more specific strategy.
Invest in good equipment like good cooking pots, food containers, cooling machines, etc. Some of these equipment are expensive but the investment is worth it, as it will save a lot of money in the long run. Also, invest in getting good trash cans to prevent any leakage or spreading of smell to keep the cleanliness standards high at all times.
A lot of waste issues are a direct result of poor inventory management. Ensure that you follow the best practice of inventory management and have a good system in place. There are rules of thumbs that you could follow when it comes to inventory management like: don’t over stock, and use the FIFO method (first in, first out). When using FIFO you ensure that the products and ingredients that came first go to the customers in that order to prevent spoilage.
Another big reason the resources go to waste is poorly handled food storage. Food that gets spoiled is a major issue that many kitchens face, but the amount of food that goes to waste could be reduced by storing food correctly. Implementing temperature control techniques is key. It’s also important to educate your staff on the proper way and temperature to store the food. Don't hesitate to invest in good right equipment when it comes to storage and creating a longer shelf-life.
Sometimes regardless of your ruthless efforts, you won’t be able to escape leftovers. In that case, you could donate the leftover to a local charity and easily make it part of your corporate social responsibility program. Not only will you be able to help your local community, but you will also be able to build your company’s reputation as a socially responsible brand.
Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) states that 34% of waste is food left on customers’ plates, you can make your customers part of the solution by simply asking them if they want their food to go. You can also readjust the portion you serve based on your observation. When it comes to buffet, don’t provide trays as customers tend to be overly-zealous and serve themselves more than what they could actually eat.
Waste management is a challenge that is faced by all restaurants across the world, in fact it’s reported by WRAP, that food waste costs the restaurant sector a £682 million each year. So if you learn how to reduce waste efficiently, that would save your kitchen tons of money and resources, and help make your business environmentally friendly and socially responsible.