Today, it’s more important than ever before for restaurants and other eateries to become more environmentally-friendly. As customer expectations change and it becomes clearer that we all have a social responsibility to adopt sustainability practices, it is no longer acceptable to ignore the obvious. Individuals and businesses must do all they can to go green, and for eating establishments, a huge part of this is finding ways to reduce and manage food waste.

There’s no denying that food waste is a pervasive issue for restaurants of all shapes and sizes. From leftovers on diners’ plates to out-of-date ingredients that must be disposed of for health and safety purposes, there are many areas for restaurant owners to focus on when managing their food waste.

At Brewsters, we’ve helped many restaurants across London and Essex reduce and recycle their leftover food and ingredients, so it’s safe to say that we know a thing or two about food waste management. Here, we share our top tips on how to reduce and manage food waste in restaurants.

Conduct an audit of your restaurant’s food waste

Before you start, it’s important to identify the key areas for improvement. You can do this by talking to your staff; after all, they are actively involved in your restaurant’s food management system. For example, your waiting staff will see exactly how much food your diners leave on their plates on a day-to-day basis. Your chefs will know how many ingredients are thrown away weekly as a result of missed end-of-life dates, and the employees in charge of ordering from stockists will have a good understanding of where your restaurant could cut down.

Speaking to your employees and identifying how the majority of your food waste is generated is an important place to start. From here, you will be able to put a concrete plan in place for reducing and managing your restaurant’s food waste responsibly and sustainably.

Only order the ingredients you need

As we just mentioned, something your chefs will be able to identify is the volume of food thrown away before it even reaches the table. Of course, no restaurant wants to run out of ingredients during a busy night of serving customers, however, throwing away heaps of uncooked food is a big issue for eateries.

Only ordering what you need will not only prevent this from happening but will also save you a lot of money in the long-term. Conduct an audit week by week to figure out which ingredients you need (and how much) and avoid the temptation of buying in bulk or taking advantage of supplier deals if it means ordering more than necessary.

Use a FIFO storage system for all produce

Using a FIFO storage system for your storage cupboards and refrigerator is a simple yet effective way to prevent food from spoiling. FIFO, which stands for first-in, first-out, is a simple system to follow: you simply put food with the most immediate use-by date at the front of the cupboard or shelf. When you stock up, put the new ingredients at the back of the shelf to make sure you don’t use them before foods which may be closer to spoiling.

FIFO systems work for all types of food (making it much easier to keep track of use-by dates) but they are especially useful for fresh produce. Fruit, vegetables, meat and dairy products should be stored using a FIFO system to reduce food waste and standardise the process for your employees.

Label all food types and ingredients

While a FIFO system can help you keep track of use-by dates more efficiently, it’s still important to label all food types and ingredients correctly. This ensures that all staff members are following the same system and have the most important information to hand instantly. Your food should be labelled with important information such as the allergens to be aware of, but also the food’s use-by date – this allows chefs and porters to identify gone-off food quickly and easily.

Make it standard practice for someone in your team to conduct an audit of your food storage shelves and refrigerators every week. If some foods and ingredients are approaching their use-by date, these could be labelled with a sticker to bring their attention to your cooking staff.

Plan your menu using similar ingredients

One creative way to reduce your restaurant’s food waste is to give your chefs a challenge: to plan your menu around a selection of key ingredients. This is something many restaurants do when using seasonal ingredients, as it means you don’t need to order lots of different foods and flavourings. Instead, you can order a select few in bulk with the confidence that they’ll be used up. This is a creative challenge that many highly-skilled chefs will enjoy getting stuck into!

Find creative ways to use leftover ingredients

Instead of throwing away your leftovers, consider creative ways to use them. For instance, you could create compost or incorporate leftover ingredients into meals for your employees to enjoy on work breaks. There are many brilliant ways to make use of food leftovers, so check in with your staff to see if they have any creative ideas. As long as you adhere to health and safety regulations, the sky’s the limit!

Pay attention to your least popular dishes

Another great way to reduce your food waste is to evaluate your menu regularly. If you frequently order ingredients for meals that aren’t very popular, it may be time to remove them from the menu in favour or something else. Your waiting staff will be able to tell you which dishes on the menu aren’t well-liked amongst your diners, and your chefs will be able to come up with a delicious alternative using the ingredients you already have.

Avoid overfilling your diners’ plates with unwanted food

A lot of the food waste generated by restaurants comes from customer leftovers. If your portion sizes are too big for your diners to eat everything, or you pack out the plate with salad and extras simply for presentation, it may be time to re-evaluate. Simple tricks such as using smaller plates or giving your diners the option to opt-out of side dishes can help you reduce your food waste drastically.

There are many simple ways to do this. For instance, when serving burgers, make it standard practice to ask the customer whether they want salad on the side. You should also give customers the option to order a burger without the bun, as this is quite often left on the side of the plate and binned.

Recycle your food waste responsibly

Reducing your restaurant’s food waste is the first step towards becoming a greener and more environmentally-friendly restaurant. However, it is almost impossible to eliminate food waste altogether. With this in mind, it’s important to put measures in place to recycle your food waste responsibly. Working with a reputable food waste management company, such as Brewsters, is an effective way to ensure all leftover organic matter generated by your eatery is handled properly.

Working with a food waste management company means that your restaurant’s leftover waste will be disposed of and recycled responsibly, instead of ending up in landfill. It also makes it much easier for your restaurant to follow waste disposal regulations and stay compliant – another bonus for busy restaurant managers! Click here to learn more about our food waste management services and how they could benefit you.

Brewsters: Food waste disposal services across London and Essex

We understand just how important it is for businesses, small and large, to adopt sustainability practices. For restaurants and other food establishments, a big part of this is finding ways to reduce and manage food waste. At Brewsters, we’re proud to help restaurants across London and Essex manage their leftovers responsibly, minimising their contribution to landfill and helping them to become greener establishments. Whether you’re looking for a food waste management company to take care of your bakery waste or out-of-date restaurant ingredients, look no further than Brewsters; our team of professionals are here to help.

We also offer a range of other waste management solutions, including confidential waste management, skip hire, compactor and baler hire, and much more. To discuss the services we offer or to find out how we could support your business, please don’t hesitate to contact us today.