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20 Easy Food Waste Management Techniques That Every Restaurant Should Adopt Right Now

By Sanjay Gouda

Updated - May 9, 202411 min read

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925,000,000 Million people are hungry in the world and 1,300,000,000 Billion tons of food is wasted. Throwing away food is like stealing from the table of those who are poor & hungry. About 30 to 40% of food is unnecessarily wasted. The wastage of food becoming such a serious issue that it could as well be made a crime, it's high time we adopt measures to curb the problem. Adopt these 20 food waste management technique to add a more value to your restaurant. Save the food, money, earth & life! 

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Managing your food properly and reducing the waste will not only help you in contributing towards a green environment and humanity but will also cut down your costs incurred in the preparation of food. Thus, your revenue generated is automatically more than your general expenditure and this means only profit for your restaurant. That brings it to the conclusion that, in every aspect, it is the right to do and it's always better late than never. With all the other challenges of running a successful restaurant, sustainability issues like reducing food waste can easily be overlooked. Adopt the following ways now when you can. 


1. Buy Only What You Need

Sale or discount coupons offer do not mean that you hoard on all the vegetables in bulk. They cannot even be used for a continuous period of more than a week as there is a huge risk of food spoilage. Only buy products that is to be used and have a good idea about the quantity required. Shop smarter!


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2. Use Soon To Expire Food First - Label Everything

Mark your food with dates & labels so that it is more visible to the eyes whenever you open the pantry. It's common sense that you would have to throw away the expired food, thus use the expiring stuff before. 


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3. Practice Stock Rotation Regularly

Use the ‘FIFO’ ruleFirst In, First Out. When you store your food ensure that newer stock is routinely placed behind the older stock, and the older stock will always be used up first before it has the chance to go to waste.


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4. Inspect All Food Orders

Always examine the food when you buy and inspect the food that you order to be delivered. You could be dispatched with a spoiled batch of food that you'll have to dispose of without using. It's a wastage of both food & money. Therefore, always inspect. 


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5. Prepare The Grocery List & Menu Together

Preparing the 2 alongside will help in determining what can be cooked with what's already there and what are things you need to buy and for how many dishes in what ratios. It manages and prepares you for an easy run. Also, track the popularity of your dishes. This will give a chance to customize the menu more often efficiently.

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6. Regulate & Keep A Check On Pantry Temperature

Fluctuating or extreme temperatures can cause food spoilage. Keep it constant and just right for the food to stay fresh. Also, keep a check on your alcohol temperature. Though beer and wine are not fresh per se, they are still perishable. Fluctuating temperatures can cause the beer to have a “skunked” taste and makes wine bitter. So make sure your dry storage area set at a constant temperature. 


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7. Compost Food Waste

Start composting with your kitchen waste instead of throwing them away in the bin. It can be complex but is a great way to reduce landfill waste. Every day more and more restaurants are going green, implementing recycling and composting as part of their business model. Even if you don't have a restaurant garden to use compost, gove it away to local farmers or gardeners and they would happily accept.

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8. Recycle Vegetable Oil

Don't pour your cooked vegetable oil down the kitchen sink or direct in the drainage. Scrape the vegetable oil from your cooking utensils, and store it in plastic containers & label them for further use in the same dishes when you cook again. Also when dumping away, be responsible as if irresponsibly disposed of, it will contribute to contamination of landfill sites. 


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9. Repurpose Ingredients & Come Up With Specials

Food waste that need not be food waste is not good for your restaurant budget and the environment. Create new specials out of repurposed ingredients to stretch your food cost and reduce the amount of food that ends up in the garbage. There is nothing wrong with creating a new dish from food scraps. Assuming that the food is not past its expiration date, in that case, throw it out without a second look. 

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10. Donate Surplus Food

Donate leftover food of the day that is still in bulk and feed the hungry. There's no better charitable work than this. It is as simple as dropping off surplus with a small shelter in your area, or contacting one of the larger companies or go to a nearby underprivileged area and distribute by hand. Not only would you be working for all the pre-mentioned benefits, but also for inner peace. Food scraps can be fed to animals too.

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11. Sell Food On Discount

If you are having food items which can go bad in a day or two and have more than you can sell then put them on discount & offers. In the case of bakeries and cafes, you can sell the previous day’s food at half the price under ‘ A day olds’ name. It is the perfect way to food waste management. 


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12. Prepare Portions

Proper portioning of prepared food is one of the most important steps to minimizing food waste. Food prepared in bulk is bound to get wasted. Measure out the correct portion amount before sending meals out of the kitchen. With proper serving portions, less food will be wasted. Set smaller plates with food on larger plates. In this way, portions will look bigger. However, do not let your guests stay hungry!

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13. Separate Food Storage Areas - Prevent Cross-Contamination

Cross-contamination can make food can become unusable. If raw meat is stored near vegetables or cooked meat in the fridge, bacteria from raw meat can get on vegetables or other foods, leading to unsafe consumption and food that must be thrown away. Separating food storage areas and food preparation areas is a necessity that needs to be adopted. Using separate cutting boards and knives can also help to prevent cross-contamination.

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14. Invest In Decent Kitchen Equipments

Investing in high-quality kitchen equipment can impact on kitchen waste reduction. Using good quality non-stick utensils, prevent the food from burning and going to waste. Using specialized knives, such as those for filleting fish, will result in a less wasted product.

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15. Embrace Nose-To-Tail & Root-To-Stem Cooking

Gone are the days when only the leg-piece & breasts of chicken were served or only the insides of the Papaya fruit were used in cooking. In recent times, chefs have turned to use the whole raw material and every part of their cooking. Each part has its own unique tastes & adds characteristic texture, taste & charm to your dish. Don't throw away even the fat part of your cooked animals. Use beef fat to fry your chips for the steak instead of oil, duck fat to roast potatoes, and duck fat for your brioche & see the magic!

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16. Conduct A Waste Audit

Find out the amount of waste and the kind of waste generated by the restaurant. Your primary goal while conducting audit should be to find out and identify the sources of these waste and then only you will be in a position to plan out ways to reduce it. Consider operating it the way it benefits your restaurant the most.

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17. Break Your Waste And Build A System

Break your waste type into different categories for easy disposal. You can do it in any manner you find comfortable. Wet Waste & Dry Waste, Recyclable & Non-Recyclable, Pre Consumer (food that doesn’t even leave the kitchen) & Post Consumer (food that’s purchased by a customer, but not eaten)  waste, and disposables. Do this first, and then move on to the next step of finding solutions to deal with this waste.

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18. Offer Staff Meals

If only a small amount of prepared food or ingredients are left that won’t be enough for another service, you can give it to your staff for free to take home or consume there only. Feeding your staff raises morale and prevents good food from being thrown away.


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19. Encourage Customers To Take Leftovers Home

Make it a point to always ask the customers if they want to take their leftovers home. More than often there is enough food left for a person's meal, instead of wasting it. the option of taking it away should always be there. Make sure to keep a variety of disposable containers on hand, so guests can take home whatever they can’t finish.

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20. Create A Responsible Team & Teach Them The Same Ethics

No work can be accomplished at such a large scale by a single person alone. You need a team working on the same ethics for a responsible work environment. It would be best if the people responsible for their duties take an extra step in taking care of the waste produced in their area too. The staff in charge of their area is the best judge of the things they deal with daily and are better equipped to handle when trained properly towards this goal. For example, workers in the bar must learn to move circularly, to respect the sequence of actions in the bar in order to avoid unnecessary bumping that resulting in slower service and frequent spilling of drinks.


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Minimizing food waste in commercial kitchens can seem daunting at first but when you get a hang of it, its easy as any other part of your business. So, make it a point to not throw your money in the trash. Make it a goal to reduce, reuse and recycle!


Q. How much food does India Waste?

A. India wastes Rs 244 crore worth of food a day. India wastes as much food as the United Kingdom consumes.


Q. Can cooked food be composted?

A.  Cooked food may attract animals & the once cooked food, when breaking down, starts to rot very quickly. Rotting vegetables cause unpleasant odors, and if too many cooked vegetables are included in a compost pile, the smell may attract pests like rodents and flies. But yes, of course, cooked food can be put to compost.