8 ways UK restaurants can manage food waste better

Did you know that UK restaurants lose £682 million annually due to food waste? That not only impacts restaurant earnings but also affects the environment in an entirely irreversible way. As growth and recovery in the hospitality industry continues its upward curve post-COVID-19, there is a need for better and more efficient food waste management practices. Here is how UK restaurants like yours can do your bit for the environment:

1. Label the food items

You can deploy a “First In, First Out” (FIFO) inventory management system to ensure the foods are used before expiration. You should properly label food stocks with a short shelf life with “best by” and “use by” dates, so it is more straightforward for the kitchen staff and they use items in order starting with those closest to expiration.

2. Adjust meal portions

Over a quarter of people leave food at the end of their meal, with crisps and salads being most common. Therefore, reduce meal portions you serve your customers and make sides like rice or potato chips optional.

This may require you to adjust the price of every dish on the menu but that would also mean spending less on purchasing produce. Remember: Quality is better than quantity!

3. Recycle or do composting

You may not always be able to save food and that is OK. But instead of sending that waste to landfill, you can recycle or compost. Vegetable and fruit peelings, grains, tea bags, bakery products, and coffee grounds – pretty much anything except for fish, meat, and dairy products – can be composted.

You can also recycle expired food items to make a natural fertiliser to nourish the soil. In addition, you can separate plastic and paper wrappers into recycling bins to make food waste management faster and easier.

4. Create sustainable menus

Do not be surprised when we tell you that food scrap is edible and can be added innovatively to prepare a fresh meal. Vegetable peels and roots, for instance, can be used to make stocks. Wonky-looking fruits can be blended into smoothies or sorbets, and leftover ingredients can be used for cooking limited-edition items.

Leftover steaks or grills can be used as sandwich stuffing, while leftover beer can be baked into beer bread or used for bread pudding or sandwiches. This helps reduce food waste and is more economically viable for the restaurant business.

5. Donate leftovers creatively

You can partner with a local charity or food bank and donate leftover meals and ingredients to feed the needy. In addition, you can ask customers to take the leftovers home. According to WRAP, 34% of waste is food left on customers’ plates. For instance, you can conveniently pack pizza slices for later consumption. So offer your customers the option of a ‘doggy bag’ or a take-away box before getting the bill.

6. Shop for your produce sensibly

Just because there is a sale on your local produce does not mean you buy them in bulk if you have no sensible plan to use it all. Only buy consumables in quantities actually required or where you have a plan to extend their life such as freezing or bottling.

7. Maintain optimal temperature

Proper temperature control prevents the formation of pathogenic microorganisms, ensuring food safety. Where food cannot spoil, waste is less likely – unless, of course, it is cooked and served but not fully consumed. You can maintain optimal temperature by immediately cooling hot food, reheating food to the appropriate core temperature (at least 70°C for two minutes), keeping high-risk foods in fridges (1-4°C) and freezers (below -18°C).

8. Predict meal orders using technology

You can create sustainable menus and adjust meal portions when you have data in your hands. You will undoubtedly have more control over your kitchen, inventory, and popular/unpopular meals in the menu if you use software that can estimate the specific number of orders, the amount of food needed per order, and the quantity of the ingredients. Technology will help you contain your shopping costs and minimise food waste.

In a nutshell

The key to not wasting food is to plan everything carefully ahead of time and make smart decisions that are environmentally friendly and lighter on the pocket. Investing in a food waste management system such as Waste2ES can help you reduce the volume of food waste by up to 70%, thus saving money for your restaurant.

If you would like to know more about our onsite food waste technologies and take control of your food waste sustainably, get in touch with us today!

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