If you own a restaurant and feel concerned about your bottom line, maybe it's time to take a look at your food waste and how you can help reduce some of it. Of the 72 billion pounds of edible food thrown away each year, around 52 billion pounds come from manufacturers, restaurants and grocery stores. Food waste in your restaurant, bar or quick-dine facility can mean a big waste of money as well.
Make a Food Waste Audit
To get an idea of how much food your establishment is wasting, conduct a simple food waste audit. Once you identify where the waste is coming from, it's easier to begin reducing that waste and saving money. Teach all staff members to begin keeping track of:
- What is being thrown away
- Why it is being thrown away
- How much is being thrown out
You can take an old-school approach and use paper and pencil to keep a log, or you could use an online tracking system instead. As you look over your data, concentrate on identifying the biggest contributors of food waste and why certain items are being disposed of. Include your staff as you brainstorm ways to improve waste management.
Reduce Pre-Consumer Waste
Because you have more control over how your restaurant acquires, stores and preps food, pre-consumer waste is relatively simple to reduce. Pre-consumer waste is food that never ends up leaving the kitchen because it gets thrown out. Consider some of these ways to help reduce pre-consumer food waste:
You can help reduce your amount of food waste by conducting a food waste audit. This way, you can find ways to cut back on or lessen the amount of pre-consumer food waste your business generates.For help managing your business’s food waste, recycling and other waste needs, contact the professionals at MSG Waste & Salvage Inc.
- Stay on top of inventory. Make sure you are not ordering too much food during certain times of the week or season. When this happens, food ends up sitting around too long and eventually must be thrown out.
- Organize stock wisely. Perishables can rapidly go bad if they are not used quickly, especially if they go unnoticed. Rotate refrigerator items so food that goes in first gets grabbed and used first. Add large, easy-to-see labels on those perishables that indicate the date. Labeling ensures that produce does not get overlooked, ignored and wasted.
- Store perishables correctly. Food items like vegetables and fruits can be stored in such a way that extends their shelf life. Train your staff to employ the best methods for storing different types of produce — not all perishables are stored in the same way.
- Get creative with leftovers. Repurposing leftover food and ingredients eliminates the need to throw them away. For example, turn extra chicken into soup and bread into stuffing or croutons.
- Feed your employees. If you are unable to repurpose food for customers, try feeding your employees instead. Giving them a free meal not only reduces waste but also boosts the morale of your staff.
- Donate food to the needy. Food that is perfectly fine but won't be used can be donated to various charities that feed the needy. Local food banks and other programs might even come to you and pick up your extra food. Don't forget to claim these donations on your tax return.
- Contribute to animal feed. It costs more money to haul food waste to the landfill, so why not use those scraps for animal feed? Farms and zoos can use your waste to feed hungry animals. Food waste can even be used to produce animal and pet feed. This helps the economy and lessens your food waste.