Master the Art of Reducing Waste at Your Small Restaurant with these 10 Tips

restaurant food waste

The Food Waste Reduction Alliance reports that restaurants throw away about 85% of their unused food. SimpleOrder, a restaurant inventory management software, supplied Small Business Trends with ideas to cut down on food waste in your small restaurant.

Tips for Restaurant Food Waste

Donate Leftovers

Charitable organizations are always looking for packaged ingredients, entrees and other types of excess food to feed the homeless.  Finding these organizations in your community is often as simple as finding a good portal to evaluate them for you.

Check Your Perishables

Airtight containers need to be marked with the date fruits and vegetables arrive and when they are no longer acceptable for consumption. The team at SimpleOrder suggests these foods can be dehydrated so they last longer. If you plan your storage areas so perishable goods are more visible, there’s less chance for waste.

Change Your Menu

If you can analyze which menu items make the most waste, you can reduce their portion sizes or eliminate them altogether.

Buy High End Equipment

Even something as small as a high-quality potato peeler can reduce waste and increase profits over time. By spending more now for high quality kitchen equipment, you won’t have to lose money later on escalating food waste and the costs associated.

Inventory Regularly

Knowing what you’ve got in stock and what’s almost expired is an excellent way to reduce waste. Shopping for good inventory software will help you track what’s consumed on a daily basis and what items often sit before being used.

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Cut Out Niche Ingredients

Specialty ingredients can sit on the shelf and go bad before they are used. If you take the items that use these ingredients off your menu completely, you’ll cut down on waste. Or, you might try substituting ingredients you use for another entree as well to save money. Going through your sales numbers should point you in the right direction.

Automate Your Inventory Tracking

Automated tracking systems that work with your inventory reduce over ordering and waste by proxy. The best of these can even help you to track your numbers on a daily basis.

Train New Hires to Reduce Waste

New employees need to be educated on your waste reduction culture as soon as you hire them. Don’t forget to look for their feedback on how you can improve processes too.

Log Those Leftovers

Every small restaurant should have a team dedicated to logging waste to help you  understand where it is happening and how to reduce it. Everything needs to be categorized based on how you dispose of it — compost, landfill or recycling. Tracking things this way gives you a very clear picture of what you sell versus what you throw away.

Develop a Composting Program

Putting together a composting program is one of the quickest ways to reduce your restaurant waste. Find out how to separate everything into the proper categories and get the right containers to compost what’s biodegradable.

Photo via Shutterstock

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Rob Starr Rob Starr is a staff writer for Small Business Trends. Rob is a freelance journalist and content strategist/manager with three decades of experience in both print and online writing. He currently works in New York City as a copywriter and all across North America for a variety of editing and writing enterprises.

4 Reactions
  1. It is surprising how much waste a restaurant generates on a daily basis. It is about managing these waste and making the most out of them.

  2. The waste is just too much. I think that these businesses should resort to some form of recycling method. It will help the environment and can cut costs.

  3. With so many restaurants in the world, the waste is enough to power a town or a nation. It is about harnessing this and using it as a resource rather than dismissing it as mere waste.

  4. Great tips. It’s really amazing the amount of food that is wasted in the US. I recently joined a small startup in NYC with a sustainability platform for helping restaurants reduce food waste and generate more revenue by allowing them to post unsold inventory (like a flash food sale platform for unsold meals –