February 13, 2023

Cut Back on Food Waste: Top Tips for Restaurant Owners to Get More Bang for Their Buck

Restaurants are in the business of giving guests a great time out. The food they provide during that experience is just a bonus. When people go out, they want to have a nice time. This involves a great atmosphere, a delicious meal, and a memorable experience with loved ones.

To accomplish this goal, however, restaurants need to operate on a very narrow profit margin. Any waste, no matter whether it is wasted time from an employee standing around doing very little or having food waste itself, is going to cut into that profit margin.

That’s why cutting back on food waste is so critical for restaurant owners and why you need to rethink how you use your ingredients and how to get more bang for your buck.

Food Waste Statistics

Food waste is a growing problem in wealthy nations, one which is a slap in the face in countries facing food shortages. Overall, it’s estimated that one-third of all food produced around the world is wasted every year. This amounts to 1.3 billion tons, all of which could have been used more efficiently with just a little bit of planning. The United States is a huge culprit of food waste as well. It’s estimated that around 40% of food here is thrown out.

control food waste

What does this mean in real terms? In regards to cost, that’s the equivalent of throwing out $218 billion – that’s from food in the US alone. Food waste also produces massive amounts of greenhouse gases. In fact, if food waste was a country, it’d be the third worst polluter in the world.

Restaurants aren’t exempt, either. An estimated 22 to 33 billion lbs of food waste is produced by restaurants each year in the United States. This is due to either the ingredients no longer being acceptable to restaurant standards or because customers don’t finish their plates, and the leftovers have to be thrown out.

Why Restaurant Owners Need to Take a Proactive Approach to Food Waste

Restaurant owners play a critical role in reducing the amount of food waste produced. Unfortunately, the food service industry contributes significantly to the problem, with up to 10% of all food purchased being thrown away uneaten. This not only has an impact on the environment but also results in significant economic losses for your business.

To address this issue, it’s important to understand the root causes of commercial food waste in restaurants. Over-ordering, poor storage practices, and inefficient preparation techniques are some of the main factors that contribute to waste in the food service industry. Additionally, menu planning, portion control, and better use of leftovers can also help to reduce food waste in your restaurant.

By taking a proactive approach to reducing food waste, you can improve your bottom line while also helping to protect the environment. Implementing measures such as regular waste audits, menu planning, and staff training can help you to identify areas for improvement and reduce the amount of food waste generated by your restaurant. As a restaurant owner, you have the power to make a positive impact and lead the way in sustainable food practices.

How to Cut Back on Food Waste in Your Restaurant

Cutting back on your food waste offers many benefits, with cost savings the priority for businesses. The good news is that, in this case, what’s good for your bottom line is also good for the planet. Cutting back on food waste means spending less and earning more when you use these top tips:

Reuse Ingredients as Much as Possible Per Meal

The best way to cut back on food waste is to reuse ingredients in as many dishes as possible. This doesn’t mean that you end up offering the same flavors over and over again, just that you remix the base ingredients in new ways to get the most out of your order. This is an essential practice in any restaurant, but workshopping your approach and your menu on an ongoing basis is the best way to find the sweet spot that cuts back on cost and waste.

Use Dried Ingredients

Think fresh is the only way to go? Think again. If you have been struggling with using up all of the fresh ingredients, see if switching to dried works instead. You could use dried spices, from Olam Spices, for example. You can dry ingredients in all forms. Take the example of garlic. You could choose to get garlic in powder form, but if you go to the right supplier, you could opt for chopped, minced, organic, or granulated instead.

This is a good way to add different flavor profiles to dishes without keeping large quantities of ingredients that don’t get used very often and go out of date much faster. You can get that extra strong garlic flavor by using dried minced garlic without needing to store it fresh.

Let Customers Take Food Home

Always offer customers the opportunity to take their leftovers home. This is a simple way to let your customers get more value out of their meals, and it will also reduce how much food waste your restaurant produces on any given day.

Properly Sort Food Waste

If your area collects food waste, you must have your employees throw out food (and only food) into a specialized bin. Food waste collection sends waste to an industrial composter, which cuts back on the emissions produced by food rotting. Instead, it will be given a second life as fertilizer or even as biofuel.

Expand Your Offering

Want to cut back on food waste and boost profits? Sell ingredients to the public. If you’ve created a special spice seasoning mix that’s a huge hit amongst customers, work to start selling that mix out there on the floor. This way, you can use up every grain of your purchase to boost your sales and actually improve customer satisfaction. If customers use your spice mix at home, it’s even free marketing whenever they have guests over!

If you offer fresher products for customers, then a good way to avoid waste is to use a pre-ordering system. You can sell meal kits, for example, ahead of time. Have last order cut-offs and a set pick-up day, so you only prepare what’s actually been sold.

Seal For Freshness

Many ingredients can enjoy a longer lifespan by being properly stored. Your business, for example, could save on food waste by using a vacuum sealer on its fresh ingredients. Storing food in the fridge or freezer in the right containers is also essential. When it comes to storing anything, however, remember to properly label best by dates and regularly re-organize your stores so that food doesn’t get left behind and is used while it’s still good.

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