Ways to Reduce Food Waste in Restaurants

Bematech Blog - February 8, 2019

blog2Food waste is one of the greatest challenges within the restaurant industry. In fact, according to Restaurant Hospitality, the restaurant industry alone generates about 11.4 million tons of food waste annually, at a cost of about $25 billion per year. With so much lost revenue, it’s no wonder restaurant owners are looking for ways to reduce food waste.

Sometimes, that can mean investing in better training and more efficient technology. Keep in mind that for every dollar invested in food waste reduction, restaurants can realize about $8 in cost savings.

For restaurant owners searching for ways to reduce food waste, there are several steps you can take:

Stop Food Waste in Restaurants

  1. Conduct a Waste Audit
  2. Adopt the FIFO Method
  3. Stop Over Prepping Food
  4. Start Using a Kitchen Display System
  5. Train Staff to Reduce Waste
  6. Monitor and Adjust Portion Sizes

Conduct a Waste Audit

When you are looking for ways to reduce food waste, the first step is to figure out how much of your food is actually being wasted in the first place, and where it’s coming from. Utilize sales data from your POS to see how many customers are coming through your restaurant, and compare it to how much food is actually being wasted.
Once you have gathered data from both these variables, you can get a sense of where your biggest waste is by breaking it down into two categories: pre-consumer and post-consumer. By understanding this ratio, you can determine effective ways to reduce food waste for your restaurant.

Pre-consumer Waste

Adopt the FIFO Method

The FIFO – or first-in/first-out method – has proven to be incredibly beneficial to restaurant owners. Like the name states, you use the products that enter your store first, before using newer, fresher inventory. This FIFO mentality helps to ensure that older food gets used first before it spoils.

Stop Over Prepping

If your restaurant staff begins preparing food for the day in large batches, it can easily lead to food waste when the entire batch isn’t used. While it can be difficult to use manual methods to accurately forecast needs, you can review data from your POS to determine how much is actually being used on a daily basis, vs. how much is being prepared. That way, kitchen staff will know which items to prepare, and exactly how much to use.

Start Using a Kitchen Display System

To further reduce waste, try implementing technology designed with that purpose in mind. A kitchen display system (KDS) can help your kitchen streamline the food preparation process, and prepare only what is needed.
In addition one of the best ways to reduce food waste is by preventing errors. A KDS does this exceptionally well, because it displays each item and modifier clearly to the kitchen and improves communication between front- and back-of-house staff.

Take Preventable Action

You can redesign your menu around underused ingredients, so that you end up utilizing them before they spoil. You can also reduce the number of ingredients in specific dishes, so you use more of each ingredient.

There are many low-cost ways to reduce food waste that simply involve a little extra training. By teaching kitchen staff proper preparation techniques that cut down on waste and improve shelf life, you limit the amount of perfectly good food that gets tossed out during the prep process.

Post-Consumer Waste

Monitoring and Adjusting Portion Sizes

There are several factors that contribute to post-consumer waste, but the biggest one lies in your portion sizes. In the United States, restaurants consistently offer portion sizes that are two to three times what the average customer should be consuming in a regular meal.

Reducing portion sizes is one of the many ways to reduce food waste that occurs post-consumer. Simply monitor which dishes are being wasted more often than others, and how much of each dish is being wasted. Scale down the portions to match what the average customer is actually consuming.

Other ways to reduce food waste include implementing smaller dishes for self-serve settings or buffets. This has proven to be effective. In fact, Cornell University research on food psychology found that consumers given larger bowls took 16 percent more cereal than those with smaller bowls. Consumers generally find a 70-percent fill rate to be visually pleasing.

Reduced Waste = Better Bottom Line

The bottom line is that food waste affects your restaurant’s bottom line. When your goal is to stay competitive and grow your business, looking into different ways to reduce food waste will be critical.

Bematech offers KDS solutions to restaurant owners and operators that include features specifically designed to reduce the amount of food being wasted. If you are interested in learning more about how to reduce waste and improve profits, contact Bematech today.