In a restaurant, wasted food is wasted money. For an industry already operating on tight margins, the cost of what you toss is just as significant to your environmental footprint as it is to your bottom line.
While a zero-waste restaurant isn’t possible for most operators, there are many simple steps you can take to better arm your restaurant against unnecessary waste. Whether it’s getting creative in the kitchen, or leveraging your inventory tracking, here are five ways you can reduce waste and generate revenue at your restaurant.
1. Educate your Staff
In order to successfully reduce waste in your restaurant, you need your team to be on board. For current employees, take the time to explain the importance of waste reduction and the positive impact it will have on your business. For future hires, make waste reduction an integral part of your onboarding process. Whether it’s including a one-pager in your employee handbook, or conducting a waste specific training session, take the time to explain why you’re making a conscious effort to reduce waste in your restaurant, as well as the benefits they will see if they successfully manage to reduce the quantity of waste.
2. Adjust Portion Sizes
Remedy some of your restaurant’s food waste by playing around with portion sizes. But before you go resizing every item on your menu, do some digging; spend a shift monitoring every scrap that’s trashed and make note of any dishes that repeatedly make their way back to the kitchen half-eaten. By doing so, you’ll gain a better understanding of which dishes need to be re-portioned in order to minimize the quantity of waste and dollars being dumped in the trash.
3. Repurpose Food
A lot of your food waste can be reduced by re-thinking your trash. Whether you’re using tomatoes that have gone soft to make tomato soup, or using celery tops and carrot peels to make vegetable broth, it’s never been easier to turn your refuse into revenue. Take it from farm-to-table celebrity, Dan Barber; at his three week NYC popup, WastED, Barber showed how giving food scraps new life can please both your customer’s tastebuds and your bottom line. For more food repurposing inspiration, see here.
4. Conduct Inventory Tracking
The proof isn’t in the pudding – it’s in your data. The extent to which your restaurant is wasting can be hard to visualize, but with the help of a POS system with smart inventory tracking, it’s easy to get a handle on your wasteful, over-stocking ways. No longer do you have to “guestimate” when ordering from suppliers; with the help of inventory stock level warnings, you can get in the habit of ordering only what you need – nothing more, nothing less.
5. Donate Excess Food
While the best way to cut back on food waste is to stop ordering so much extra food, sometimes excess is unavoidable. For those times, instead of letting your excess food go to waste, why not get it to those in need? Make a point to get acquainted with your local food bank or soup kitchen to do your part to fill the gap between surplus and need.
While food waste is a worldwide issue, with the help of the above tips, you can make your restaurant part of the solution, and positively impact your bottom line in the process.