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5 Ways to Reduce Food Wastage in your Restaurant

Kadence Edmonds
14 Jun 2021

Reducing food waste is not only the environmentally friendly thing to do but will allow you to reduce costs and become more profitable.

Running a hospitality venue is a tricky business. Alongside keeping your customers happy, there are many moving pieces - like stock management, financial planning, and staffing - you have to keep on top of if you want to reduce costs and maximise profit margins. But if you’re looking for one simple, and surefire, way to keep a handle on costs, try focusing on reducing spoilage and food waste.

As important as it is to offer a menu that makes everyone happy, it’s equally important to limit the amount of food that is going to waste. In Australia alone, a whopping 5 million tonnes of food every year is thrown out every year, enough to fill 9,000 Olympic sized swimming pools. In the UK, the food industry wastes 9.5 million tonnes of food every year, which would be associated with more than 25 million tonnes of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. And in the United States, the global leader in food waste, almost 40 million tonnes of food is discarded every year.

So, not only is reducing the amount of food your business wastes beneficial to you financially, but it also makes an impact on the environment and economy.

5 Ways to Reduce Food Waste in your Restaurant

Review your Portion sizes

Portion size is the first thing to check out when looking to reduce food waste within your venue. As much as some customers are all about large oversized plates of food, more often than not you will have consumers that leave food uneaten on the plate.

One way to review your portion sizings is to do an overall audit of how often food is left behind, what it is and by how much. This way you can clearly identify which items you may be serving too much of, allowing you to make small changes that most patrons will not even notice.

Use Inventory Management to Avoid Overbuying

In any business, it is hard to strike the balance between having too much stock and not enough. Too much can lead to waste, and not enough can lead to unsatisfied customers.

So here is where you can use your Point of Sale system to your advantage and review reports on orders compared to sales data and discover days where you may be over ordering. From reports out of your POS, you can identify trends in buying habits of customers and better accommodate your stock to match it. You can even identify slow-moving dishes that you may be able to alter or remove from the menu altogether.

Using your POS to record inventory also means you can always be aware of what you actually have on hand as well as use by dates so that stock is not spoiled or forgotten.

Learn more about inventory management here.

Correct Storage Practices

Another way to help reduce waste is by making sure that all your products are always stored correctly, and your staff are effectively rotating arriving stock. The storage of food is vital for preserving quality and preventing any bacterial growth which could lead to a complete loss if the product spoils.

Rotation is another key point to the correct storage of your food items, making sure your staff implement the "FIFO" rule, first in first out. Making sure it’s routine practice to place the new stock behind the old stock, both in the storeroom, kitchen and the products in the food cabinets.

Manage Customer Expectations

You will always have tough customers, in any business, but some of the most difficult are encountered in hospitality. So make sure that your menu accurately describes your dishes, staff are familiar with ingredients, and that they are recognising exactly what a customer is asking for to avoid any meals being sent back to the kitchen.

If a staff member doesn't understand what the customer is requesting, make sure they try to ask questions so they can get a better understanding, or grab a manager to help. This can help eliminate the frustration, for both customer and business, if the order is wrong or doesn’t meet expectations.

This is where your Point of Sale system can become imperative. Implementing the correct prompts on your menu items that print to the kitchen can save this frustration. Having selections like adding sides to a meal, instructions on how a customer wants their eggs or steak cooked, sauce options and other common requests. It’s also important to include the ability to add notes to a dish that can work for allergen advice or just to aid in making sure the customer gets exactly what they request.

Recycle Food scraps

While having zero wasted food is completely unavoidable, there are still other ways to help reduce the impact on the environment and your budget. Sometimes things are unmeasurable, and even after all your precautions, a slow trading day can leave you with an abundance of stock and waste.

In these cases, there are things that you can still do. Get creative, and offer limited-time specials to try and move overstocks faster. Look at incorporating your kitchen scraps and use them to make stocks and soups rather than buying them in, which can also be a great selling point. Or even consider composting your food waste and use it in your restaurant's garden instead of sending it to landfill.

Using these simple tactics can not only help reduce your food scrap waste but can also provide an opportunity to promote these practices as a unique selling point to your business. After all, who doesn’t love knowing that the stock used to make the meal extra tasty was made in house, or the herbs garnishing that meal were grown on site.

Reducing food waste is another way an Epos Now POS system can help your business reduce costs and become more profitable, get in touch to find out more:

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