Restaurant and foodservice venues generate a lot of numbers, making it difficult to manage waste from spoilage, overstock, or theft. Operators are turning to menu design and tuning their offerings to protect their bottom lines while limiting food waste. But menu engineering is not the only way to control waste. Today we provide some simple guidelines to help you get focused on what matters most, so you don’t have to toss out a single cent.
- Monitor Consumption – set a regular frequency for your inventory count—daily: at the close of every business day, weekly, monthly, and annually. The more often you take inventory, the easier it is to identify and prevent spoilage, overstock, or theft. Careful not to over-order. You may be motivated to order even 10% extra to get a volume discount, or “just in case” you have an unexpected increase in orders. Always refer to your inventory and consumption data, with the aim of minimizing excess purchasing. Foodservice inventory management software helps make the process easier. Look for technology that monitors costs and consumption trends.
- Use Leftovers – create specials with unsold portions when possible. But you don’t have to do all the creative work if you don’t have time. Some popular websites allow you to select which food items you need to use up, and then it lists recipe options for those specific ingredients. As a quick example: fruit can easily be made into a smoothie by adding peanut butter and honey. Another tip to limit waste is to stay in season. Keeping your ingredients seasonal translates as being fresher, and therefore more enticing to guests.
- Train Staff – make sure your staff understands the business’s food inventory procedures and why employees should follow them. Consider making this part of new hire orientation, sharing the importance of things like categories, purchase units, issue units, recipes, portions, storage, and more. Impress the importance of, and perhaps gauge the team’s overall performance on their contributions to your reduced food waste initiatives.