How to Reduce Waste at Your Restaurant and Save Money

Reduce Food Spoilage and Save Money


April 19, 2015

Waste through food spoilage costs restaurants money. Careful inventory and smart buying tactics can help help prevent food waste in the kitchen. There are some simple steps to keep food spoilage in your restaurant kitchen to a minimum.Food spoilage is almost impossible to escape in a restaurant kitchen. But you can minimize it by staying organized and only buying what you need each week.



Avoid Over-Buying Fresh Produce
Your food sales rep may try to get you to buy several cases of lettuce or zucchini because they are on sale.  Depending on who is doing the food orders, communicate with the head chef about upcoming weekly specials.  If he or she feels they can incorporate several cases of lettuce into the daily specials, then go for it.  However if you won’t use more than one case in a week, then you run the risk of food spoilage. And that equals dollars lost. Only buy sales and specials of produce you can definitely sell within a week.

Inspect all You Food Orders When They Arrive
You should always have someone checking the food order as it arrives.  Not only does this ensure you getting everything your ordered (and paid for) it is also an opportunity to inspect fresh produce. It isn't unheard of for cases of fresh produce to arrive at a restaurant DOA. Fruits and veggies are either spoiled or well on their way.

Send back defunct food and speak with your sales rep. If happens repeatedly, it is time to start shopping for a new food vendor.

Keep Everything Labeled and Organized
This goes for everything in your walk-in cooler and freezer as well as in your dry storage. Not only does it ensure food safety, it helps you use older food first (FIFO) before they spoil.


Keep Beer and Wine at Constant Temperatures. 
Even though beer and wine have a longer shelf life than fruits and vegetables, it is still possible for them to spoil. Fluctuating temperatures can cause beer to have a “skunked” taste and makes wine bitter. So make sure your dry storage area, or wherever you store your beer and wine, is set at a constant temperature. And just like your walk-in, use older bottles first.  

Be Creative With Your Specials 
If you find you have a lot of tuna steaks left after the weekend or that extra case of zucchini you bought for a catering job didn't get used after all, work with your chef to incorporate it into the menu specials. Utilizing leftovers into something creative and delicious not only will save your restaurant money, it is a an opportunity to try out new menu ideas. 

When in Doubt Throw it Out
If you pull out a bin of tuna salad (or is it chicken salad?) and can't recall how long it's been in the reach in cooler, chuck it. Immediately. Don't try to taste test it or guesstimate it's age. When in doubt, throw it out. It's a cliche saying, because it's true.  Don’t get overzealous about tossing questionable foods.  A little spoilage is better than risking your customers health.


Consider Composting 
Restaurants aren't known for being environmentally friendly. However, environmental sustainability is a hot restaurant topic with consumers.  If you do have to toss food that is past its prime, consider composting it instead of trashing it.  Ditto for peelings and scraps.  Even if your restaurant doesn't have its own garden there are plenty of local farmers or gardeners who would be happy to use your compost for their gardens, making it a win-win for all.