In the United States, the restaurant industry loses $162 billion annually in food waste (according to the USDA). 40% of the food that's grown, harvested, and transported in the US is never consumed. Not only does this affect your wallet, but it also harms the environment. Food is the most common item in landfills. You can help shrink these numbers by following this simple guide!
Here's How to Reduce Food Waste in Your Restaurant
1. Inventory Your Waste
It's not feasible to be completely waste-free, especially in a restaurant. The first step to reducing food waste is to understand what you're throwing away. Take a week and have your employees write down what they throw in the trash. After a week of your trash inventory, figure out your trends. What are you throwing out the most?
2. Change Your Buying Habits
Once you've learned what foods you throw away the most, you can factor that into your ordering. If you find that you throw out a lot of spoiled cucumbers, buy fewer cucumbers. Buy only the food that you need for the meals that you make.
3. Reduce Spoiled Food
With fresh food and produce delivered to your restaurant almost daily, it's easy to allow extra food to spoil. The best way to reduce old food is by using the FIFO method. FIFO means "First in, First out." The food you receive first is the food you cook first. If you have a shipment of cucumbers on Monday and Wednesday, use all the ones from the Monday shipment before the ones from the Wednesday shipment. This will reduce the amount of old food in your kitchen.
4. Utilize Specials
Weekly or daily specials are a great way to use food that's nearing expiration. Rather than customers having to find these items on the menu, you can promote them as specials. This way, customers are more likely to order them.
5. Don't Waste Ugly Food
Frequently, restaurants waste vegetables and fruits because they're ugly or weirdly shaped. Customers don't care if your food is a different shape if they taste the same! Don't throw out food because it looks different.
6. Donate What You Can't Use
Any food you can't use can easily be donated to soup kitchens, food banks, and homeless shelters. Check with your local charity organizations to see how to donate. Most shelters and food banks will pick up donations for free, all you need to do is schedule a pick-up time.
7. Compost Your Waste
No restaurant can cut out all food waste. You don't have to send it all to the landfill! You can easily compost right on your premises. To learn how, read this article.
Food waste is a major problem, especially in the restaurant industry. It's more simple than you may think to reduce it. If you use these simple guides, you can lessen the effect of food waste on your wallet and the environment.
How have you been able to reduce food waste in your restaurant? Tell us in the comments below, we love hearing from you!