Six tips to reduce food waste at your restaurant or foodservice operation

Six tips to reduce food waste
By Diane Chiasson
November 12, 2013
Six tips to reduce food waste

Restaurant operators are often consumed by the amount of food that must be thrown out at the end of each night. Food wastage is not only created by leftovers from customers, but also from pre-consumer kitchen waste created by spoiled food, trim waste, overproduction or food that was prepared incorrectly.

Not only is this disturbing from the actual food being wasted, but a restaurant may also be overspending on their food costs.

Diane Chiasson, FCSI, President of Chiasson Consultants Inc., a restaurant and foodservice consultancy firm in Toronto, offers a few tips on how to reduce your food waste:

1. Track your waste

In order to figure out how to cut down on your waste, you must first figure out how much you are wasting and what you are wasting. Keep a spreadsheet of which items and how much you are throwing out each night, and then adjust your orders accordingly. For example, if you are serving 2oz of sour cream with your tacos and notice that the majority of your customers are only consuming 1oz, cut down your serving size to 1oz.

2. Rotate your stock

When your inventory arrives, make sure that all stock is labelled and dated, and shelved behind any older stock. Make sure you use up all the items with the oldest dates first. This will not only prevent the need to throw out expired or spoiled food, but by using up your stock in a timely manner, your food will actually taste better.

3. Assess your prep waste

A significant portion of your waste may come from your food prep. Assess your prep waste by monitoring your chefs to see if they are wasting by prepping the food incorrectly or throwing out useable food. You can also reuse and recycle food items that are not on your menu. For example, fats cut from meat could be rendered and used as oils, day-old bread could be made into croutons, vegetable peelings or rinds of cheese could be used to flavour soups and stocks. You may also consider donating your food scraps to a food bank and receive a tax cut in return.

  1. Use smaller plates

Control the portion size of what you serve your customers by putting your food on a smaller plate. Placing the same amount of food on a larger dish can make the serving appear much smaller than placing the same serving of food on a smaller plate.

  1. Use seasonal, fresh foods

Control your food costs by using more seasonal foods in your menu, especially with vegetables and produce. When they are in season, they not only cost less but also taste better. A seasonal menu will also force you to change up your menu every few months, and create a fresher and healthier atmosphere in your operation. You may also consider replacing premade ingredients to preparing in-house as it is often less expensive to make items in-house.

  1. Get charitable

Start a food waste campaign at your restaurant by offering your customers the choice to receive a half portion of what they order at the same price, but you will donate the cost of the other half portion towards the local food shelter or programs to fight global hunger/poverty.

See also:

About the author:

Diane Chiasson, FSCI, president of Chiasson Consultants Inc., is recognized as the world’s best restaurant, foodservice, merchandising, hospitality and retail consultant based in Toronto. She has been helping restaurant, foodservice, hospitality and retail operators increase sales for over 30 years.Her company provides innovative and revenue-increasing consulting services including restaurant and retail merchandising, interior design, marketing, brand identity, menu design and training. 

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