If your restaurant or foodservice operation is looking to cut down on costs, one of the obvious ways to do so is by cutting down on food waste. If you are throwing out food on a daily or weekly basis, you are essentially throwing money in the garbage. Not only is it bad for your profit margin, it is a wasteful practice.
Recognize Your Patterns
Before you can cut down on food waste, you need to recognize your patterns. What foods are you tossing most frequently? If the only thing you find yourself throwing away is spoiled milk, you don’t need to do a complete overhaul on your grocery ordering. Keep track of inventory electronically. This will allow you to track how much you have of each item and what needs to be reordered. It will prevent over-ordering.
Get Creative with the Menu
If you get a delivery with extra tomatoes or an overhaul of another product, get creative. Instead of tossing the food in the cooler or freezer and hoping it gets used up, create a special that utilizes that ingredient. You can also do this if you notice an overabundance of a certain ingredient that is nearing its sell-by date but is still safe to use. Guests will enjoy the variety.
Use Food Labels for Proper Food Storage
Expired product is one of the biggest causes of food waste. How many times have you prepped a bunch of produce only for it to get tossed into the back of the freezer and forgotten about until it spoils? Knowing which products to use first reduces spoilage, helps you avoid food waste, cuts down on costs and prevents foodborne illness. It’s easy to keep track of this with food labels and NCCO’s DateIt™ Food Rotation Labeling System. There are a variety of labels depending on your needs. You could also take advantage of the Date Code Genie® system, which not only allows you to print custom labels, but features product control tracking as a software add-on so that you can analyze what ingredients you use most of and when.
You should also be sure you have a backup plan if your coolers and freezers fail during a power outage.
If you follow these strategies and still notice excess food, you may want to consider donating leftovers to charity. There are charities popping up all over that accept unused food. Rather than throwing food away, you could also consider giving it to employees. This may not help you cut down on costs, but it will certainly boost employee morale.