01 Plan efficiently
02 Measure and analyze your food waste
03 Design a smart menu
04 Serve reasonable portions
05 Order responsibly
06 Practice good storage routines
07 Build a zero-waste culture in your kitchen
08 Go beyond your kitchen
10 Mind the taste!
Benefits: A good overview of your stock, production and service will allow keeping your food waste to the minimum and cutting costs. It will also be easier to continue monitoring the profitability of your business.
Tips for efficient planning:
1. Make structured plans for procurement, production and service and organize them accordingly.
2. Consider how all catering services at the hotel are connected and how they impact each other. Establish effective communication flow and look for the possible improvements.
3. Regularly collect information and updates from the reception or meeting organizer regarding headcount and guests’ dietary restrictions/preferences and dining plans to estimate the number of portions and avoid overproduction. That can be collected from each guest e.g., during reservation.
4. Calculate adequate volume of products needed for the day based on reservation and ratio per guest, including historical data.
5. Use digital tools, or a customized Excel sheet, to organize your planning and detail your production needs. Update the database regularly, especially if you identify miscalculations.
6. Establish a sufficiently long breakfast, lunch, and dinner hours (and make sure they are clearly communicated). Ask the manager to help you communicate them to the guests.
7. Plan work assignments according to staff experience and skills to reduce the amount of food waste. Make the executive chef responsible for guiding others in terms of production volume.
8. Plan mise en place properly. Check the condition of your utensils and equipment regularly.
9. Carefully calculate the amount of the ingredients to be precooked in advance. Consider if more products can be served à la minute.
10. Plan sufficient time for each meal sitting. During events, suggest sufficient time for lunch and coffee breaks. Take available dining space and your toilet infrastructure into account.
11. Ensure buffet construction and equipment is adequate to cater your guests in peak hours. If needed, prepare several buffet serving flows to decrease long queues (e.g., one flow per 40-50 guests). After the first serving round, decrease the amount of buffet flows so you do not refill too many buffet trays.
12. Budget an end-of-day discount on food for guests visiting the hotel restaurant, or users of food rescue services, to still make some profit.
13. Make a contact list with the names of local community organizations, NGO representatives or church institutions to contact if you have surplus food that can be donated. Reach out to the preferred organization beforehand to ensure that they are on standby, to quickly pick it up.
14. Draft a list of local producers that you can contact to propose sales or barter of your by-products.
Measure and analyze your food waste
Benefits: Careful calculation and tracking of food in your kitchen will allow you to identify where your losses are, and how and what you can still optimize. Having a clear strategy in place makes it easier not to throw away surplus food or byproducts during mise en place or service on busy days. You will avoid throwing away valuable resources and potential ingredients. Once you identify your wasted foods, you can make changes on your service, menu, and portion sizes accordingly.
Tips for analyzing food waste:
1. Monitor the preparation and service process from kitchen to plate to investigate where the waste occurs. Provide separate bins: for storage waste, preparation waste and for plate waste. This is how you will be able to recognize the type of waste and its origin.
2. Register and analyze kitchen and plate waste regularly, using a digital tool or simply a scale and an Excel sheet. After two weeks, you should be able to identify the first areas for improvement. Later on, if you want to analyze your waste in more detail, divide the kitchen waste for what comes from the preparation process, and what comes from the buffets and is an effect of the overestimation.
3. Go through the waste carefully with your team and think how you can avoid it in the future. Develop a plan for reducing food waste and set up realistic, job-specific goals. Check the progress and inform your team to keep them motivated.
4. Measure the size of portions and buffets and adjust their size regularly, based on the collected and analyzed waste data.
Design a smart menu
Benefits: A menu designed with an optimal amount of ingredients, and with multiple uses for each ingredient in mind, means that you store and waste less food. Flexibility in menu design can help you include surplus ingredients, which will prevent not only food waste but also money loss.
Tips for designing a smart menu:
1. Create a short and adaptable menu with different daily special options that can feature ingredients approaching its “use by” date and surplus food. Offer the daily menu also to guests of large meetings and events at the hotel.
2. Check your storage and use the ingredients you already have in stock as a starting point for your menu.
3. While creating a daily or group reservation menu, consider all the available data that you can collect in advance – not only the number of guests but also their dietary restrictions and needs. It will help to match the menu with their preferences. Consider what is worth highlighting in the menu. It could encourage customers to choose according to your priority or profitability. This way you can reduce food waste while at the same time maximizing profit.
4. During breakfasts consider offering more a la carte courses or serving stations and limit buffet. At the buffet minimize sweets and sweet snacks as they are less popular than salty snacks and generate more food waste.
5. Choose ingredients that you can use in several dishes and from nose to tail (including stalks, leaves, and stems). For example, collect quality meat cut-offs and peels for broth. Putting it in the composter should be the last resort solution.
6. Find ways to replace ingredients that you rarely use or find new uses for them.
7. When serving fresh ingredients, prioritize local produce that is in season - it will help cut the journey from farm to table and provide great taste.
8. Provide clear information about ingredients in your menu, especially allergens.
9. Ensure that diners can make changes and substitutions to dishes.
10. If you see that guests often request a replacement of an ingredient, or reject a dish only due to one ingredient, provide a suitable equivalent.
Serve reasonable portions
Benefits: Monitoring your restaurant portion sizes empowers your kitchen staff to promote quality control. It ensures that diners always receive the portions and quality they have come to expect from you.
Tips for establishing portion size:
1. Design portions by weight, taking into account the time of the day (e.g., breakfast or dinner), type of dish, its food cost, as well as habits and preferences of your guests and whether they usually eat one course per sitting or several (e.g., group reservations).
2. Analyze plate and buffet waste regularly to estimate the optimum amounts of each food.
3. If you plan serving stations during breakfasts or events, adjust portion sizes and pay attention to food quality and presentation.
4. While serving a buffet, have the staff keep an eye on it, to prevent guests contaminating the food. Adjust portion sizes and pay attention to food quality and presentation. Have a plan and control for when to restock it and when to downsize.
5. Warm only the food that is to be served next and avoid preparing too many trays to be held warm for hours (this reduces the chance of reusing the surplus).
6. The size of crockery and buffet serving cutlery implicates portion size. Consider offering smaller sizes for plates, glasses, and utensils, and encourage diners to refill as needed.
7. Demonstrate or provide information on the size of the portions. This helps customers to take an adequate amount of food.
8. For a la carte diners, be ready to provide doggy bags or takeaway boxes.
Benefits: Close cooperation with suppliers will get you much more than better prices. It ensures better information about products and ingredients and about their shelf life and use. It also opens access to sustainable products (which can be used for menu storytelling) and environmentally friendly delivery (reusable containers, fewer one-time orders).
Tips for responsible procurement:
1. Define goals and objectives for your procurement, such as cost savings, quality control and sustainability. Monitor them regularly.
2. Before ordering, review your storage and first try using the ingredients you already have. Check freezers and workstations for products left behind.
3. Use calculation tools to estimate amounts and volumes of products, based on the production plan.
4. Match your orders with your stock level and production calculations to reduce storage space and improve rotation.
5. Establish good relationships with your suppliers to discuss different volume options, to only buy what you need. Negotiate your delivery plan and suggest reusable (or at least more environmentally friendly) containers.
6. Check if your suppliers offer surplus products at a discount due to their upcoming expiration date. Buy in bulk, and then vacuum pack and freeze for future use. You can incorporate them in your menu as a daily special, to minimize food waste from suppliers.
Practice good storage routines
Benefits: Full control of your storage and patterns of product usage improves efficiency and time management. Over time, this will help you save money by preventing overordering, keep your produce fresh and use most of it.
Tips for smart storage:
1. Implement the First-In-First-Out (FIFO) rule in your storage: make sure that the products with the shortest expiration dates are the first to be used.
2. Follow strict rules to return products to their assigned places after use.
3. Make sure that staff know how to correctly store different products. Take into account the proper form (roots and tubers with removed leafy green tops), temperature, air circulation and proximity of products (e.g., potatoes and onions cannot be stored together).
4. Carefully choose proper storage containers (e.g., with tight-fitting lids for the refrigerator).
5. Check the condition of your equipment regularly to ensure optimum quality of storage, e.g., temperature or humidity.
6. When you secure the ingredients for later, make sure to label them with the opening date and shelve them accordingly.
7. Vacuum pack and freeze, if necessary.
8. Use Excel spreadsheets, or other tools, to track your stock level and support proper planning and ordering. Stock waste can be tracked and registered in this way, too!
Build a zero-waste culture in your kitchen
Benefits: Food waste starts as early as in kitchen processes. Having skilled and aware personnel ensures that the product is used to the maximum and less waste is created.
Tips for building a zero-waste culture:
1. Ensure awareness of your zero-waste mission and effective communication across different departments of the hotel. Make managers, receptionists, and other colleagues your allies in combating food waste (and achieving extra profit).
2. Create a collective understanding of everyday zero-waste practices and procedures. When possible, assign a person responsible for the zero-waste policy. This way you make sure everyone is on the same page and routines are followed up.
3. Make sure that the staff, are well-trained on specific waste prevention actions:
the FIFO storage rule
checking expiration dates and the quality of food (tasting, smelling, and touching food for spoilage),
using products smartly (finer peels, smarter cuts, etc.),
tasting products and, if possible, semi products, to ensure a balance in flavors.
4. Agree on common, realistic goals for food waste prevention, and provide regular updates to the team on progress and success rates to keep them motivated.
5. Turn waste prevention into a team building exercise, or a competition for individual members, with prizes. Engage them in registering/tracking/weighing the waste in their sections, based on agreed, feasible goals.
6. To keep the chef motivated, encourage and challenge them to create a daily special out of the excess food. Appreciate them for improving or inventing new, zero-waste recipes.
7. Offer regular staff meals from unused produce or allow the kitchen team to take the surplus food home, as a bonus.
Go beyond your kitchen
Benefits: What is waste for one can be a resource for others. Try bartering your by-products with local producers to secure additional income and support charity to make a difference in the world. Posting an end-of-the-day discounted offer in food rescue apps brings not only profit but also potentially new a la carte local diners.
Tips for reducing waste:
1. Try signing up to food rescue apps and other local services of this kind. This will help you to sell surplus meals for a discounted price.
2. Establish cooperation with a local community, charity NGO, food bank or church organization for the donation of your surplus food. Notify them well ahead so they can be ready to pick up or receive it as soon as possible, preferably on the same day.
3. Secure unserved food deemed for donation. Keep meals/trays out of sight from guests and with an unbroken cold/warm chain.
4. Assign one person in charge of food donation and surplus management, to oversee the cold/warm chain, as well as ensure enough storage space.
5. Make sure you comply with food safety regulations and applicable taxes/withdrawals. Look for the social/community fridges in your area to donate the surplus food.
6. If you find no way to reuse surplus food or organic waste, do not throw them away yet. Find a local business that will see your waste as a resource, e.g., coffee grounds, and will be willing to pay, or barter for it.
7. Try to approach farmers to exchange it for their products, as animal feed or compost, or simply give it away.
Benefits: Better communication within your team and with your customer leads to improved efficiency and customer experience. It helps to build common values and awareness of how to avoid food waste.
Tips for better communication:
1. Ensure smooth exchange of information with colleagues from other departments.
2. Ensure effective communication between the kitchen and servers regarding serving timing and flow, customers orders, needs and feedback.
3. Ask the manager to help you communicate how to best navigate breakfast, lunch, and dinner hours.
4. Share your strategies and tips with your guests so that they can be proud of choosing a zero-waste establishment. Create appealing and informative resources for your diners: from mentioning it in the menu paper placemats and informative posters in the dining room to digital communication e.g., during room booking.
5. Provide clear information about ingredients in your menu, especially allergens.
6. Find the best ideas and formats to communicate with your personnel and guests and gather feedback: hotel’s satisfaction surveys, social media exchange, or other activities. Invite your staff and guests to come up with zero-waste suggestions based on their needs and preferences.
Mind the taste!
The key to a successful hotel restaurant is working with ingredients and foods that deliver great experience every time. The quality and taste of the meal is the primary factor that influences customers' satisfaction. It contributes to decreasing the amount of plate waste and increases revenue. Encourage the kitchen team to taste products and if possible, semi products, to ensure a balance in flavors.
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