Preventing Food Waste: A Chef’s Guide

5 Tips from a Chef that will help in Preventing Food Waste 

Studies show that almost 40% of food gets thrown away daily, which is devastating considering the millions of people going hungry worldwide. 

Food waste is a prevailing issue in the hospitality industry, affecting not only the restaurant’s revenue but also the well-being of our environment and taking a toll on the Earth’s resources. Plus, more waste could mean less revenue for the business. Throwing away food could also mean throwing away the cost of preparing and cooking the food and the money you pay staff, not to mention the packaging.

So, here’s a chef’s guide to preventing food waste.

5. Chef’s guide to preventing food waste.

1. Review Your Processes

The first step to addressing food waste is to review your processes and consider the cost. Try to assess where the issues arise. Review your processes to understand why there is food waste. Your review can reveal that perhaps the reason behind the waste is that you purchased too many ingredients that are expiring soon. Also, you could find that it’s due to mistakes in taking orders and preparing food. Or maybe your serving portions are too big. 

Monitoring and measuring food that goes to waste is an effective way to identify the source of waste and keep track of your waste management techniques. Once you have identified the reasons behind the food waste, take the time to compute how much it is costing your business. Doing so can help provide a clear metric for measuring and evaluating the waste reduction techniques you have implemented.

When reviewing your process, you must keep track of food usage and waste. It can help you look for opportunities to scale back food production while still meeting the demands of your consumers. You can establish a food waste inventory to help you identify the amount of food getting wasted and where the waste goes.

2. Keep an Eye on Storage and Stock Monitoring

One of the most effective ways to prevent waste is to determine which foods are in storage. Keep a detailed list of the foods in your stocks, including “used by” or “best before” dates, which you can refer to easily. Doing so can help you avoid forgetting food that would otherwise go to waste.

Effective stock management is a crucial part of preventing food waste since it helps ensure that you use older stocks first before they expire. It also keeps you from overbuying ingredients that can further cause waste. 

Part of monitoring stocks is reassessing your approach to temperature monitoring. There are times when some food items end up in the trash since they were placed in the wrong storage environment. For instance, businesses can consider investing in sensors that issue alerts once temperatures increase above the safe level to help avoid this. 

Efficient ordering and stock monitoring are crucial for minimising food waste and spoilage. Ensure that you clearly label stored food and that everyone who handles food in the kitchen has undergone training on proper storage and monitoring of ingredients.

Preventing Food Waste: A Chef's Guide
Photo by Lorin Both on Unsplash

3. Train your Employees

Your staff has a crucial role in minimising waste on your business premises. Therefore, get them involved and discuss the importance of proper waste management. More importantly, train them about waste reduction. Be sure they know the local laws and regulations about proper food disposal. 

To enhance their knowledge and skills, consider providing them with specialised training, such as food hygiene training courses, which can significantly contribute to not only waste reduction but also maintaining a safe and compliant environment for both your staff and customers.

Since your staff plays a role in determining if your efforts to reduce waste are successful or not, it pays to invest in training materials to teach them proper food storage. The training should also teach them about avoiding cross-contamination and keeping your premises clean at all times. 

It’s not enough that you train staff – make them understand the importance of proper food disposal and how to minimise food waste. They should know which bin is for a particular type of food and how to segregate food waste.

Food handlers and those who work in the kitchen have crucial roles in reducing food waste. In fact, some of the most innovative ideas for reducing food waste come from the kitchen staff, since they work directly with food. So, invest in training and certifying your staff, as it’s one of the best things you can do to minimise food waste in your business.

4. Recycle Where You Can

Sometimes, you cannot prevent food waste, no matter what changes you make or the techniques you implement. In one study, it was found that up to 26% of restaurant food waste is inevitable. However, you can implement ways to prevent massive amounts of waste that could potentially affect the environment. Aside from those already mentioned, recycling is another way to reduce waste. 

Check the inventory of your food and see if any of your food items are recyclable. You can also place some of them in a compost bin, which you can put to good use. Another option is to partner with local food banks and charities to donate excess food. Donating unsold food that is still safe to consume can help reduce food waste while helping your local community.

Most food packaging materials are recyclable. Too often, they get discarded along with food waste. Placing these recyclable materials in the proper recycling bins is one of the best ways to help the environment while saving money on waste collection.

5. Engage Your Customers

Your customers will also have a role to play in helping to minimise food waste. If possible, offer diners the option to take away leftovers. Aside from eliminating food waste, it gives the customer a better dining experience and a good sense of receiving the best value for their money.

Inform customers whether your ingredients are sourced from sustainable or local providers. Customers value transparency, and it helps create a positive image for your restaurant. Knowing that your restaurant promotes sustainable and local practises can also help you attract environmentally concerned consumers who want to dine at establishments that share their beliefs.

Be transparent about your food waste policies and practises. Let customers know how you handle surplus food and if you donate to food banks or compost, and use your restaurant’s social media platforms to share tips on reducing food waste, behind-the-scenes insights into your sustainable practises, and your success stories.