How to Reduce Food Waste in Restaurants

Reducing food waste isn’t just great for your bottom line, it can also help with your reputation. In fact, a recent study showed that over 72% of U.S. diners care about how food waste is handled at the restaurants they frequent. Here’s how to reduce food waste in your restaurant.

Ways to Reduce Pre-Consumer Food Waste

Pre-consumer food waste is food that never leaves the kitchen. This is the food that spoils before it can be served. Because you have the most control over pre-consumer waste, this is where the majority of your efforts should focus. Here are some ways to reduce pre-consumer food waste.

Track Inventory, Traffic & Waste

Keeping track of inventory, restaurant traffic, and food waste is essential if you’re going to reduce waste in your restaurant. You can leverage this knowledge to find out if you’re ordering too much of certain foods, leading to waste. You can even use this information to update your menu to prevent food waste on items that aren’t often ordered.

Train Staff to Reduce Waste

Encouraging your staff to properly label, store, and prepare foods can greatly reduce food waste. Make sure they’re using the oldest items first, properly labeling and storing food, preparing consistent portions, avoiding cross-contamination, and cooking food right the first time.

Repurpose Ingredients

Have a surplus of an ingredient that’s about to expire? Try re-purposing the ingredient through a daily special, a free staff meal to boost team morale, or by donating the ingredient to a local charity.

Ways to Reduce Post-Consumer Food Waste

Post-consumer waste is food waste that happens after the food has left the kitchen, which makes it harder to control. Still, there are a few things you can do to help prevent post-consumer food waste.

Manage Customer Expectations

The more information diners have about a dish, the less likely they are to send the food back to the kitchen. Include accurate descriptions and pictures of the food on your menu, and make sure your staff is trained to answer any questions diners might have.

Monitor Portion Sizes

Have your servers and bussers noticed that no one finishes your signature dish? It might be time to adjust the portion size. Standardizing recipes can also prevent size fluctuation and decrease food waste.

Encourage Guests to Take Home Leftovers

The easier you make it to take home leftovers, the more likely people are to do it. Still, it’s important to remember that disposable containers also create waste, so try to use containers that are biodegradable.

For more restaurant management tips, check out the McDonald Wholesale blog where we cover everything from how to handle recalled food items to how to reduce turnover in your restaurant.

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