20 Ways to Reduce Food Waste in Your Restaurant

20 Ways to Reduce Food Waste in Your Restaurant

Running a restaurant can be tough. In 2024, with rising energy costs, increased premiums and customers feeling the pinch it is even more difficult to turn a profit. However, every year the UK’s hospitality sector generates a staggering 920,000 tonnes of avoidable food waste. This is not only environmentally detrimental, it is literally throwing money away. 

At Zero Waste Tech, we’ve built our business around helping others reduce their environmental impact. Using our experience of the hospitality sector in the UK we’ve pulled together twenty practical tips to help your restaurant cut down on food waste and thrive in today’s competitive landscape.

Table of Contents

Tips for food waste reduction in restaurants

1. Efficient Stock Management

It’s easy to over-order. Obviously you don’t want to get caught out on a busy night. But it’s important to avoid the temptation to over-purchase ingredients. Try planning your inventory, only buying what your restaurant realistically needs to minimise. In 2024 your not alone, the technology available will provide insights never before possible. More on that below.

2. Practice zero waste cooking

Explore creative ways to repurpose leftover ingredients and minimise waste. Utilise vegetable peelings and bones to make stocks, soups, or sauces, and transform day-old bread into croutons or breadcrumbs.

3. Embrace Stock Rotation (FIFO)

Implement the “First In, First Out” rule to ensure that older inventory is utilised before newer stock. Regularly check expiry dates and prioritise the consumption of items nearing expiration.

4. Harness Technology for Waste Reduction

Leverage innovative waste management technologies like Orbisk to reduce food waste in your kitchen by up to 50%. Orbisk uses image recognition to track what you throw away, at what time and in what quantities. These actionable insights make waste reduction easy. Find out how here.

5. Ensure Stringent Temperature Control

Stick to strict temperature control standards to safeguard food safety and prolong shelf life. Properly cool, reheat, and store food at recommended temperatures to mitigate the risk of spoilage.

6. Maintain Accurate Inventory Records

Keep detailed records of your restaurant’s inventory, including use-by dates and quantities, to track stock levels effectively. Regularly review inventory data to identify surplus items and prevent waste.

7. Monitor Use-By Dates Diligently

Regularly inspect use-by dates to prevent food spoilage and ensure compliance with food safety regulations. Adopt a proactive approach to managing stock rotation and inventory turnover.

8. Optimise Food Storage Practice

Maintain temperatures in your refrigerators and freezers to preserve food quality and reduce the risk of bacterial growth. Organise your storage areas to ensure easy access and rotation of stock.

9. Conduct Rigorous Quality Checks

Thoroughly inspect all incoming deliveries against order specifications to verify quality and freshness. Reject any items showing signs of spoilage or damage to prevent wastage.

10. Donate food to charities

Establish partnerships with local charities or food banks to donate surplus food and ingredients to those in need. Redirecting excess inventory to charitable causes reduces waste while supporting the community. There are amazing charities like City Harvest, tackling the food waste issue head on.

11. Implement Clear Food Labelling

Clearly label food containers with allergen information, date details, and product descriptions to facilitate organisation and prevent confusion. Proper labelling ensures that stock is used efficiently and reduces the likelihood of wastage.

12. Engage in Continuous Improvement

Regularly evaluate your restaurant’s waste management practices and identify areas for improvement. Request feedback from staff and customers to refine waste reduction strategies and maximise effectiveness.

13. Don’t forget the doggie bags

Provide customers with the option to take leftover food home in eco-friendly containers to reduce plate waste. Encourage responsible consumption and support sustainability efforts.

14. Exercise Portion Control

Be mindful of portion sizes to minimise plate waste and optimise resource utilisation. Offer flexible portion options to accommodate varying appetites and preferences.

15. Anticipate Demand Strategically

You know your restaurant better than anyone – so strategically forecast demand to avoid over-preparation and minimise excess production.With Orbisk this can be even easier, data is so powerful in the modern world use it to succeed.

16. Track sales

Some dishes are more popular than others, if you keep a close eye on your sales you might find that you can remove items from your menu. By removing less popular dishes you can reduce waste – especially if they contain irregular ingredients.

17. Empower Staff Through Training

Your team can make or break you. Make sure you provide them with the knowledge and skills to reduce waste through comprehensive training programs. Educate employees on proper food handling, storage practices, and waste reduction strategies to foster a culture of sustainability.

18. Do you need food waste collections?

Make sure you have a separate food waste bin on site, or even better embrace technology and install the ORCA. This would allow you to process any food waste on site removing waste collection costs completely.

19. Customise Menu Offerings

Provide customizable menu options to empower customers to tailor their meals according to their preferences. Offer side dishes and add-ons as optional extras to minimise plate waste. Remember, not everyone wants mushy peas with fish and chips…

20. Emphasise the Financial Benefits

Highlight the significant cost-saving opportunities associated with food waste reduction for restaurants. By minimising waste, your establishment can increase profitability, improve operational efficiency, and navigate economic challenges more effectively.

Reduce food waste in your restaurant today

By incorporating these practical tips into your restaurant’s operations, you can contribute to a more sustainable future while reaping the financial rewards of waste reduction. By embracing technology it can be even easier and the savings can become even deeper.
Get in touch today to find out how technology can help you reduce food waste in your restaurant.


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