Table of Contents
Did you know? According to a report by the National Resources Defense Council, restaurants in the US alone generate around 11.4 million tons of food waste annually. Food waste is a growing problem in our society, with restaurants being one of the biggest contributors, no shock there! Not only is this environmentally wasteful, but it impacts your restaurant’s bottom line.
The good news is that there are many steps restaurants can take to reduce their food waste and become more sustainable! From menu planning to inventory management, plenty of strategies can be implemented to minimize waste and save money. In this blog post, we will explore some of the best practices that restaurants can adopt to reduce food waste, become more environmentally conscious, and find inner peas.
1) Use Inventory Management Software
Inventory tracking and management software, whether seamlessly integrated into your point-of-sale or accessed through a third-party app, can help business owners track their food inventory and prevent overstocking.
With so many options available, choosing the right inventory tracking and management software for your restaurant is crucial. Some factors to consider when choosing an inventory management system include the following:
- Functionality: Unless your software meets your needs and is user-friendly, you’ll be less inclined to use it. So when shopping for the right system, consider the size of your restaurant, the type of food you serve, your budget, and ease of use. A good point-of-sale solution should offer integrated inventory tracking and management software to automate the entire process. This allows restaurant owners to easily organize and control every aspect of their stock. Because there is a learning curve with learning any new software, be sure to pick a solution that offers training and customer support, especially for a busy restaurant environment!
- Barcode scanning: Barcode scanning allows you to quickly and easily track inventory and improve restocking. By knowing exactly what you have on hand, you can make more informed decisions about what to order and when. This helps you avoid running out of key ingredients during busy times or overstocking too much of items that won’t be used quickly. Loss prevention is critical for any business, and barcode scanning makes it all the easier, whether you use existing codes or create your own.
- Reporting: Automated inventory reporting is the cornerstone of any successful kitchen. A good system will fully automate the process of inventory management by generating reports on what products are selling, what modifiers or substitutions your customers are choosing, what ingredients need to be reordered, and more. In addition, good inventory management software can help you improve your cost control by tracking your inventory sales. This allows you to identify which items are selling well and which items are not. You can then adjust your purchasing decisions accordingly and avoid overstocking items that won’t be used. Good software will also alert you when your quantity levels get low, so you can reorder before you run out of stock. Having detailed reports eliminates the need for regular inventory checks or stock-taking, allowing restaurant owners, chefs, and managers to focus on other important aspects of their business.
Overall, automated inventory reporting is a valuable tool for any restaurant that wants to improve its efficiency and profitability.
2) Hone your Menu Planning Strategy
Planning your menus in advance can help you avoid overstocking food and is vital for reducing waste. By carefully planning your menu, you can ensure that you are using all of your ingredients and that those ingredients are fresh, all while saving you money and helping reduce your environmental impact. When you plan your menu, consider the following:
- Ingredients: Use the ingredients you have on hand, including leftovers. Leftovers are no longer faux pas! Use up leftover ingredients by adding them to soups, stews, or casseroles. You can also use them to make salads, sandwiches, or burgers. Be creative and experiment with new dishes if you don’t already have a recipe in mind. This can help you use up ingredients that you might not normally use or create feature menu items creatively paired with drinks. Check out our latest blog article on 6 Burgers & Beers to Pair: North Texas Edition for some delicious inspiration.
- The popularity of your dishes: It doesn’t take a Sherlock to know you will cycle through your ingredients more rapidly for your popular dishes.
- The time of year: Plan your menu based on what is in season. This will help you get the freshest ingredients at the best price. In addition, advertising fresh in-season ingredients is also a great marketing strategy!
- Your menu type: Digital menus or chalkboard menus are easy to change as needed to add new entrees that use the ingredients you have on hand. They also offer different aesthetics!
- Your entrees’ portion size: Train your kitchen staff to prepare your planned menu items in appropriate portions and ensure they adhere to those guidelines. This can help prevent overproduction and food waste. Additionally, you can offer smaller portion sizes on your menu to reduce the amount of food that is wasted when customers don’t finish their meals.
By planning your menus in advance, you can reduce the amount of food that you have to throw away.
3) Compassion, Composting, and Community
Okay, so you’ve done everything you can think of to reduce food waste by using inventory management and menu planning, but you still have leftovers nearing expiration. What options remain? If you have food that is nearing its expiration date, consider donating it to a local food bank or soup kitchen. This is a great compassionate way to prevent food waste while helping those in need in your community. And if food has expired, there is still use for it! Read on for more:
- Donate excess food: Find a local food bank or charity that accepts food donations and establish a partnership with them. Donate excess food that is still safe to eat but won’t be used in your restaurant. This can prevent food waste, help those in need, and show your involvement in your community.
- Composting: In recent years, many businesses have elected to create kitchen gardens for locally sourced fresh herbs and produce using the compost created from their kitchen scraps. Whether you’ve started a kitchen garden or you would like to offer nutrient-rich compost to the community, composting is an invaluable eco-friendly option to reduce food waste.
- Communicate with your Customers: Let your customers know that you are committed to reducing food waste. Offer them incentives to bring their own reusable bags or compost their food scraps there at your location!
It’s a Wrap!
As we’ve mentioned, food waste is a major problem in the restaurant industry. However, there are many things that restaurants can do to reduce food waste. By using inventory management software, menu planning, and donating food, restaurants can help prevent food waste and save money.
In addition to the three tips mentioned above, here are a few more things that restaurants can do to prevent food waste:
- Audit your food waste. Keep track of how much food you throw away each week or month. This will help you identify areas where you can make improvements. Implement a system to track how much food is being thrown away daily, and identify which dishes contribute the most waste. This information can help you adjust your menu, portion sizes, or purchasing decisions to reduce waste.
- Educate your staff. Make sure your staff is aware of the importance of preventing food waste. Train them on how to store food properly and how to identify food that is no longer safe to eat.
By taking these steps, restaurants can help reduce food waste and positively impact the environment.
Want to reduce food waste while using the latest cloud-based technology to manage your inventory from anywhere? Schedule your demo today.