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Blog at Chefify

How do you troubleshoot your food waste and manage food costs?

Nov 20 2018 - 4:02pm
Food waste is a big problem in the UK – we are not a nation of conscientious consumers in that respect. Restaurants play a big role in this, throwing out 600,000+ tons of food each year (that’s around 22 tons per establishment). Around a third of that wastage comes from the customer’s own plate, while most of the rest of the food is being binned during the preparation stage. Of course, every restaurant is different. However, the cost of being overly wasteful with ingredients could be affecting more than just your environmental credentials – it could be hitting your bottom line by making your food costs far higher than they need to be. So, how do you stop throwing money away?

Menu analytics

The menu is the starting point for reducing food waste for restaurants. How much does each dish on the item actually cost to prepare? This may seem obvious, but some items may be more costly than you think, particularly if they are not getting eaten. For example, if there is one dish that regularly comes back half eaten you’re wasting half the ingredients on every plate. Reducing the dish size would enable you to double the number of portions from the same ingredients without affecting customer satisfaction, thereby greatly reducing your food costs.

Inventory control

Once raw ingredients are paid for the only way to prevent them being loss making is to economically use them in a paid for dish. It’s important to avoid being short of key ingredients, but over ordering can be really costly if food goes off before it can be used. Introduce a tight system of inventory control that ties your stock ordering to your customer’s orders and is adjustable based on the reality of your numbers.

Streamline prep

Wasteful food prep is just not acceptable in this day and age. With all the tech and training we have – as well as the trends for nose to tail cooking – creating food that doesn’t leave a trail of waste behind it is doable for every kitchen.

Creative solutions

If you find yourself with a lot of surplus products then think outside the box to pass the benefit of them on. For example, donate your surplus to charities like FareShare (there could soon be tax breaks for doing this) or sign up for an app like Too Good To Go – this allows restaurants to list unsold food inventory and sell it via the app.

Keep track

Invest time and effort in monitoring food use and food waste in your restaurant so that you have an overall perspective. Watch how dishes are prepared – and how much goes in the bin during each service – as well as what customers leave on their plates. What small changes can you make to cut back on waste each year? It may seem like an effort but taking action now could cut your food costs and give your end of year figures quite a boost.

Find out other ways your restaurant could be more sustainable by reading our "Ways to improve the sustainability efforts of your restaurant" blog.

Make your restaurant sustainable with these tips
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