Diners in the U.S. increasingly are concerned about issues surrounding food sourcing, sustainability, and usage — and that includes food waste. Just last month, New York City and Washington, D.C., hosted Feeding the 5000 events that enlisted the help of celebrity chefs and other volunteers to transform perfectly good produce diverted from the landfill into delicious meals for the public, raising awareness about the hot topic of food waste.
For the average hospitality business, however, restaurant food waste is also a matter of dollars and cents, and by tackling this issue head on, you can maximize your profits and keep your kitchen running smoothly.
Manage Your Inventory Wisely
Your inventory management module is your No.1 tool to eliminate restaurant food waste. The inventory management module of your POS system should give you visibility into the amount of ingredients you have in stock. When you sell or waste a menu item, it should update your inventory. You should have the ability to look at individual ingredients as well as categories of ingredients to help you make sure you can deliver all of the items listed in your menu.
To help minimize food waste, your POS’s inventory module tracks which items are amply stocked, helping you make intelligent decisions when it comes to ordering and when deciding which items need to be “specials” to help them move faster.
It’s a Popularity Contest
Every restaurant has its least popular and most popular menu items. Some dishes sell out every day while others are overlooked. Look to your POS system to identify these items and opportunities to boost underperforming dishes. This may include adjusting the price of the dishes that don’t sell well in order to entice customers to order them more frequently and prevent the ingredients used in those recipes from spoiling. You can achieve some reduction in restaurant food waste by managing and marketing your menu items more efficiently.
Keep Accurate Records
Stress with your staff the importance of keeping accurate records. When stock is received, make sure you have procedures in place that ensure the date or receipt, the quantity, and the vendor is entered into your inventory management module. This can help reduce the possibility that ingredients will sit on a shelf unnoticed, rather than being used. It can also help avoid ordering more stock when you already have some on hand — which can not only eliminate waste, but help control costs.
Establish Efficient Procedures
Even if you don’t intend for your rank-and-file workers to be intimately involved with inventory management, train them on this important area of the business. Your staff needs to understand why minimizing restaurant food waste is important and what they can do to help. Impress upon cooks and servers alike the importance of running a well-organized kitchen and of proper storage and food handling to ensure the freshness and longevity of your meats, produce, and dry goods.
Lean on your POS system as your No.1 defense against restaurant food waste. When you make a concerted effort to minimize waste and spoilage in your business, you’ll reap the benefits not just of higher, smarter profits but also a well-run, efficient kitchen.