10 Simple Ways to Reduce Wasted Food in Restaurants (Guest Post)

Ethan Gibble is a content specialist and blogger for the WebstaurantStore.com. He researches and writes about issues facing the restaurant industry on a local, national, and global scale. Here are his two, or 10, cents:

The cost of food is steadily rising and, according to bread.org, 1.02 billion people went hungry in 2009 alone. The overabundance of wasted food makes this even more difficult to endure, but it is a reality that demands a swift and ongoing call to action.

As the internet’s leading source for restaurant supplies, we here at WEBstaurantStore.com would like to help reduce the waste that takes place in the restaurant industry by offering restaurateurs ten simple ways to save both food and money.

  1. Avoid overbuying fresh produce: When your produce vendor has huge sales, there’s often an impulse to purchase more than you normally would. If you buy more than you can use before it spoils, your attempt to save money has actually resulted in wasted food and fiscal loss.
  2. Note exactly what you want when placing orders: If you would like to take advantage of a sale but don’t want all of the food to peak simultaneously, ask your vendor if you can receive the products in various stages of ripeness.
  3. Inspect all food orders upon arrival: Thoroughly examine all food orders that you receive by inspecting items randomly, and not just those on the top. If the food is spoiled or well on its way, do not accept the order.
  4. Pre-cool hot items before storing them in a refrigerator: To help prevent bacteria growth, pre-cool all hot items before storing them in a refrigerator by using a chill blaster, cooling paddle, or ice bath.
  5. Store products properly: All products should be stored in a standard food box or food packaging wrap to prevent waste from cross-contamination. Also ensure that your food is stored in proper temperatures, with frozen foods requiring storage at 0 degrees Fahrenheit or below, and refrigerated foods requiring storage at 41 degrees Fahrenheit or below.
  6. Keep everything labeled and organized: Use food labels to clearly and easily identify important details like what the item is, when it arrived, and when it must be used by. Once labels are applied, be sure to use the first in, first out (FIFO) storage method by placing new arrivals behind older items so that the older products get used first.
  7. Ensure that your refrigerator and freezer are maintaining proper temperatures: If your freezer or refrigerator didn’t come standard with a refrigerator/freezer thermometer, be sure to purchase one as soon as possible so that you can regularly monitor your equipment’s performance.
  8. Initiate proper portion control: To help save both food and money, use portion control scales to ensure that the amount of food you specify is what your employees are doling out.
  9. Anticipate and create: If you begin to anticipate that you won’t sell a certain item before it spoils, creating a temporary pricing special will help you make use of the product and achieve a profit.
  10. Donate food you will not use: As a humanitarian alternative to the last tip, send unused food to the Food Donation Connection which supports those in need. For more information, please visit www.foodtodonate.com.
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