10 Practical Ways a Restaurant Kitchen Can Reduce Food Waste

Food waste is a significant issue plaguing the restaurant industry, contributing to environmental damage and financial losses. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), approximately 31 percent of all food produced globally is wasted. As foodservice industry leaders, it’s crucial for restaurant kitchens to adopt sustainable practices and actively reduce food waste. We found 10 ways that restaurant kitchens can minimize food waste, leading the charge toward a more sustainable future.

1. Implement a Comprehensive Inventory System

A well-organized inventory system is the backbone of any successful effort to reduce food waste. By keeping meticulous track of ingredients, perishables and their expiration dates, restaurant kitchens can plan menus accordingly and avoid over-ordering or letting items go to waste.

2. Embrace Nose-to-Tail and Root-to-Stem Cooking

Encourage chefs to embrace nose-to-tail and root-to-stem cooking techniques, which involve using the whole animal or vegetable in recipes. This approach not only reduces food waste but also showcases creativity and adds unique flavors to dishes.


3. Offer Variable Portion Sizes

Customers have varying appetites, and offering flexible portion sizes on the menu can minimize plate waste. Implement a half-portion or “small plate” option for dishes to cater to diners with smaller appetites or those who want to try multiple items.

4. Train Staff on Proper Food Storage Techniques

seal cover with panEducate kitchen staff on proper food handling techniques to prevent spoilage and contamination. By understanding how to store, handle and rotate food items correctly, staff can extend the shelf life of ingredients, reducing waste.

CoCo Fresh Tea & Juice implemented Camwear® Food Pans and Seal Covers to help them get the most out of their produce. After up to 10 days, they found that their fruit was still extremely fresh and ready to be used.

5. Monitor Customer Preferences

By understanding why certain ingredients consistently go bad, restaurant kitchens can refine their menu offerings, ensuring that resources are not wasted on unpopular items. Take note of which menu items are infrequently ordered and engage with customers to gather feedback on their preferences.

sad customer

6. Utilize Food Sharing Platforms

Partner with local food sharing platforms or organizations to donate surplus food to those in need. Donating excess food not only reduces waste but also fosters a positive image for the restaurant as a socially responsible entity.

7. Compost Food Scraps

Learn how to establish an on-site composting system for vegetable peels, coffee grounds and other food scraps. Composting reduces landfill waste and produces nutrient-rich soil, which can be used to grow fresh produce or donated to community gardens.

8. Optimize Kitchen Workflow

Streamlining kitchen operations can contribute to reducing food waste. By ensuring that communication and coordination among kitchen staff are efficient, the risk of errors leading to food waste can be minimized.

9. Create Daily Specials from Surplus Ingredients

specials boardTransform surplus or slightly aged ingredients into exciting daily specials. This not only prevents food from being thrown away but also allows chefs to experiment with new flavors and showcase their skills. You might just find the new dish of the moment from these experiments!

10. Offer Staff Meals

Provide staff meals using ingredients that are close to their expiration date. Employees will be thrilled to receive a quality, complimentary meal from food that would be wasted otherwise. 

Restaurant kitchens play a pivotal role in mitigating preventable food waste. The combination of efficient inventory management, creative cooking techniques and a commitment to social responsibility will not only benefit the environment but also enhance the reputation of the restaurant and attract eco-conscious customers. As an industry, we must unite in this endeavor to make a positive impact on the world, one plate at a time.


Categories: Sustainability

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