It is a fact that food waste is a problem at a global level that is affecting many. When it comes to the restaurant industry, this problem is more apparent there. Food waste in restaurants is titled toward large players. Even getting rid of this waste comprises financial, social, and environmental strain. 

So, there is a need for operators to implement food waste control strategies to boost profitability and restaurant cost controls. In simple words, the profitability of restaurants will increase with the decrease in food waste. Read on to explore food waste management in restaurants. 

Causes of food waste in restaurants

1) Food spillage

Food spillage can comprise anything, such as a food tray dropped by a server while making its way to the dining area. Also, the prep cook can by mistake knock over the cutting board. So, it doesn’t matter how big or small is the mistake, but there are chances of large monetary losses.

2) Food spoilage

If you’ve packaged, stored, or handled the food improperly, then it can turn unfit for consumption. Some examples are poor inventory management, over-ordering, and improper refrigeration. 

3) Refires 

When a food plate is sent back and required to be remade, then it is referred to as refire. It can be due to the prepared food is not per the liking of the customer or maybe they are allergic to something. Even there can be a case of receiving incorrect order. 

4) Poor portion control 

If kitchen training is done incorrectly or inconsistently, then be ready to face poor portion size control. It might please your customers if they have leftovers to bring home, but you are risking by creating food waste. Also, you can lose margins on the serving plates.

How to reduce food waste in restaurants?

1) Try the FIFO method

FIFO is also referred to as first-in-first-out. It is a kind of valuable strategy that restaurants can adopt to ensure that the oldest inventory items are being used in the first place. With this, you can reduce food waste as there will be no expiration and spoilage of food items. All you have to do is to organize inventory and make sure that staff is following this strategy while taking out ingredients.

2) Store food correctly

All the food items in the restaurant must be stored at the optimum temperature and in a proper container. On the perishable products, use the label mentioning the date of expiration, the serving amount present in the container, and the date that product was received. There are many kitchens out there that use a system of color-coded labeling. With this, BOH staff can easily recognize the category of product present in the container.

3) Conduct a food waste audit

Have you ever tried to conduct a waste audit? If not, then you’ve no idea about the food amount your restaurant is tossing due to the current operations and potential cost savings. There is a need to quantify food waste for identifying and rectifying the mistakes being made. With this, you’ll also get to know whether your efforts are successful in reducing waste. If not, then try to look for problem areas that are required to be corrected.

4) Multiple uses of ingredients

In the list of limiting food waste and preventing spoilage, one more way to reduce food waste is to design multiple dishes which can easily incorporate the same kind of ingredients. You can use up excess inventory before going bad by creating some seasonal specialties. Also, you can negotiate a discount with the supplier by ordering in bulk. 

5) Temperature control 

If you want food safety, then there is a need to maintain good temperature control. As a result, there will be less growth of pathogenic bacteria. In simple words, there will be less food waste because the food will fail to be spoiled. Some of the suggestions are to correct core temperature by reheating food, cool down the hot food quickly and try fridges for high-risk food.

6) Switch to quality equipment

Improper equipment is usually the cause when waste generated while preparing food. So, it would be preferred to do investment in high-quality and expensive equipment. Only if most of the items on your menu need to be cut, peeled, or filet. Consider your main priorities to minimize waste and maximize efficiency.

7) More menu options

You can provide your customers with more choices related to what to leave out or include in the meal for stopping any kind of food waste. For instance, give choices between salad, vegetables, and fries. Also, you can keep these items on the menu’s side dishes, as a result, customers will purchase only the item they want. 

8) Provide flexible portion sizes

In the case of oversized food portions, the thing which matters more is quality over quantity. Try to give your customers options like large, half-size, medium, and small portions. With this, customers will buy the amount of food that is possible to finish. This will give you a unique selling point for promoting food waste solutions in restaurants.

9) Switch to the food waste tracker

When you track restaurant food waste, you’ll get to know what types of food waste are being generated and what items fail to be sold from your menu. Also, it will aid you in looking for the root cause of the waste you’re generating. You can install an electronic ticket tracking system which will chiefly streamline your kitchen. It can reduce food waste and at the same time, will allow you to look at fulfillment and sales.

10) Consider food seasonality

There are chances that you have a particular item that mostly does well in your restaurant, but at certain times they tossed more in comparison to others. The reason behind tossing is the seasonality of produce. It is up to you if you want to purchase fewer items that are not in season or simply want to update the menu according to seasonality produce.


So, it is clear that learning about reducing food waste in restaurants matters a lot. With this, you can aid your environment, and in the long run, you can save the business money. Use the above-mentioned food waste solutions for restaurants to implement for addressing the common sources of food waste.

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