When taking in the current state of the food industry, there is no doubt that food waste is one of the biggest problems plaguing the business. Reducing food waste can not only help cut costs for your restaurant but it’s also a chance to give back to the community. In order to avoid food waste and make the most of a surplus of leftovers or unused foods, we’re sharing some tips to help you develop the best strategy. And what better time than the holiday season to start planning and testing options? Here are four suggestions to think about now.
Donate your leftovers
Not only is this route the most socially responsible, but it’s also one of the easiest for you to incorporate into existing operations. In most major cities, food drives and donation sites will often set up times to come to you and pick-up any leftover foods, and they will often provide you with great guidelines as to what you can and cannot donate. And now there’s a food-matching platform—Spoiler Alert—making it even easier for you to donate those leftovers. A key part to making this system work is educating your entire staff, so they know what to focus on saving when bussing tables, washing dishes and working in the kitchen and walk-in. There is even legislation in place to protect you when you donate.
Rethink your portion sizes
When you think about what to do with leftovers, it may seem like a no-brainer to think of the reasons you have leftovers in the first place, something the EPA calls ‘source reduction.’ Undoubtedly, there will always be situations where someone doesn’t finish their food regardless of how large or small you design your portions, but you may be able to reduce your leftover post-consumer food waste by rethinking your portion sizes. Consider putting less on the plate—we all know that large portions often get tossed. You can also offer half-portion sizes for your larger dishes, or marketing large dishes for two people rather than one.
Use technology to get rid of leftovers
You shouldn’t be surprised (we know we aren’t) that there’s an app that connects restaurants who have a surplus of leftover food with hungry customers who are looking for something to eat. The app, Too Good to Go, is helping to address the leftover food epidemic that is rampant in the restaurant industry and it sounds quite simple to use. Restaurants post leftover items they have on the app and consumers can browse or shop for items they need at a discount. While Too Good to Go is only available in the UK at the moment, it’s just a matter of time before the trend catches on and someone builds a similar app stateside. We’re looking forward to that day when they do.
Charge extra for taking too much
Yes, we were a little skeptical about this one ourselves, but the premise does make sense when you consider the context. Charging customers extra is a tactic currently being employed across Germany as a way to fight waste at Asian buffets and to prevent customers from loading too much food onto their plates. When plates are bussed or collected with leftover food, presumably of a certain amount, diners are being fined 1 to 2 euros. This may seem extreme but maybe there’s a different take you could apply to this tactic. Perhaps smaller plates at a lower cost with a small charge of $2-$3 for seconds? Or simply a reminder encouraging customers to only order what they can eat!
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