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 you to keep your food waste to a minimum and cut 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. 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.
3. Calculate the adequate volume of products needed for the day based on the reservation and the ratio per guest, including historical data.
4. Plan work assignments according to the experience and skills of the staff to reduce the amount of food waste. Make the executive chef responsible for guiding others in terms of production volume.
5. Plan your mise en place properly. Check the condition of your utensils and equipment regularly.
6. Carefully calculate the amount of ingredients that need to be precooked in advance. Consider whether more products can be served à la minute.
7. Budget an end-of-day discount, also on food sold through food rescue service apps, to still make some profit.
8. Have a plan to reuse or redistribute your surplus to easily reduce food waste. Draft a list of local producers that you can contact to propose sales or barter of your by-products.
9. 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.
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 preparation or service on busy days. You will avoid throwing away valuable resources and potential ingredients. Once you identify your waste, you can make changes to your service, menu, and portion sizes accordingly.
Tips for analyzing food waste:
1. Monitor the preparation and service process from the kitchen to the plate to investigate where 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.
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. Adjust the size of the portions based on the collected plate waste data.
Design a smart menu
Benefits: A menu designed with an optimal amount of ingredients, and with multiple use 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 their “use by” date or surplus food.
2. Check your storage and use the ingredients you already have in stock as a starting point for your menu.
3. 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. 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.
5. Find ways to replace ingredients that you rarely use or find new uses for them.
6. 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.
7. Provide clear information about ingredients in your menu, especially allergens.
8. Consider offering portions in different sizes and a diverse choice of sides to help your customers avoid ordering food they will not eat.
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.
11. If you have a larger group reservation in a distant time, agree on the menu only shortly before its date. That will allow you to include potential surplus food.
Serve reasonable portions
Benefits: Monitoring portion sizes empowers your kitchen staff to promote quality control. It ensures that clients always receive the portions and quality they have come to expect from you.
Tips for establishing portion size:
1. Design portions by weight, considering the type of dish, your food cost, the habits, and preferences of your guests, and whether they usually eat one course per sitting or several (e.g., group reservations).
2. Analyze plate waste regularly to estimate the optimum amounts of each food.
3. Consider offering dishes in different sizes and provide information on the size of the portions. This helps customers order the right amount of food.
4. If you plan serving station buffets, adjust portion sizes and pay attention to food quality and presentation.
5. The size of crockery implicates portion size. Consider offering plates, glasses, and utensils in different sizes.
6. Be ready to provide doggy bags or takeaway boxes for diners.
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 (useful 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. Stop guessing.
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 proper product labeling improves efficiency and time management. It also ensures food safety and quality preservation. Over time, good storage routines will help you save money and space by preventing overordering.
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 taking into account the proper form (roots and tubers with removed leafy green tops), temperature, air circulation and which products cannot be stored together (e.g., potatoes and onions).
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. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. 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.
6. 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 potentially new customers too.
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 it 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.
6. Look for the social/community fridges in your area to donate the surplus food.
7. 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.
8. 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. Share your strategies and tips with your consumers so that they can be proud of choosing a zero-waste establishment. Create appealing and informative resources for your diners: from paper placemats to digital resources, e.g., social media posts.
2. Provide clear information about ingredients in your menu, especially allergens.
3. Help customers make better choices by informing them about portion sizes and making recommendations.
4. Communicate to the diners that you are providing doggy bags for takeaway if needed.
5. Suggest recipes or alternative use for the leftovers at home.
6. Ensure effective communication between the servers and the kitchen. Ask servers to watch and listen for guests’ feedback regarding their level of satisfaction, portion size and to pass their requests for changes in the composition of dishes to the chefs.
7. Invite your staff and customers to come up with zero-waste suggestions based on their needs and preferences.
Mind the taste!
The key to a successful restaurant is working with ingredients and foods that deliver flawless customer experience every time. The quality and taste of the meal is the primary factor that influences customers' satisfaction, leads to positive word-of-mouth referrals, decreases 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.