Foodwaste – how you can help beat it and save money
With more than 10 million tonnes of food waste binned each year in the UK, food waste is a serious problem. Not only is food waste bad for the environment with an alarming 20 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emitted, it also constitutes a whopping £17 billion value thrown away each year.
The good news is more than 60% of this waste can be avoided with a little attention and thoughtfulness. In spite the hospitality and foodservice sector is by far not the worst (that would be households accounting for 70% of the foodwaste), every bit counts and with a responsibility for 9% of the total food waste, there is room for improvement and for saving some money too.
Prep like a pro
Waste from food prep is inevitable, but if you feel challenged by your amount of waste, a little tip to get back on top is to track and analyze your waste for a short period. This way you become familiar with your waste and can start working on solutions.
One of the most common problem areas is food spoiling in the fridge. Should you encounter this problem it is definitely worth looking at!
Here are some tips:
- Regularly calculate your needs and avoid getting more delivered than you need
- Enforce the first in, first out principle in your kitchen
- Check your storage boxes, even the smallest crack in the container can shorten the durability
During prep small adjustments like separating your edible waste from your non-edible can make a big difference.
Feed your local pigs
Feed your local pigs
If you do not have a local farmer on hand or your kitchen is located in the city, another solution can be to build a compost. Put your leftovers in and see it turn to top notch soil. If you have room in your courtyard, set up some raised beds and grow your own herbs and vegetables using your own soil. Use it as a sales pitch your menu – everybody loves home grown!
Select easy plants that require a minimum of gardening. Onions, dill, parsley and zucchini are great choices!
Play with your menu design
Your menu design can also take part in preventing food waste. You are probably already considering your ingredients and using them in as many dishes as possible. Apply this idea to your leftovers from prep and re-think your menu for the next day. Can you make 'today's special' from some of the leftovers? Or perhaps make a surprise sampling menu? Be creative and play with new ideas!
What diners waste and why
Compared to the direct contact with the food waste from prep, the diners can be more tricky to figure out – so let's dive into some highlights from a study done by UK's WRAP (The Waste and Resources Action Programme):
- More than a quarter (27% to be exact) of diners leave food at the end of the meal
- The #1 wasted food item is chips with a whopping 32% of the overall wasted food
- The protein is least likely to be left at the end of the meal
When WRAP asked the diners, why these items were left behind for waste, the most common answer (chosen by 40% of the diners) was:
The portion was too big.
So what can we do?
One of the things you can do is to analyze the waste from the plates. Have your busboy alert you to the amount of waste and if there is a certain item wasted more than others. Depending on what you learn, decreasing your portion size can be an option.
If you work in a canteen with a buffet, it is impossible to control the portion sizes. What you can do instead is study your diners and learn more about, which items are popular and which are not. This should give you an idea of leftovers on the buffet and food wasted on the plates.
Should you end up with leftovers that are difficult to re-use, try one of these suggestions:
- At restaurants, the Too Good To Go phenomenon is spreading like wildfire. Simply offer your diners a great meal at a greatly reduced price. This way you avoid waisting food and still take home a profit.
- In the canteen, you can offer your diners to take home an easy meal for dinner at a good price. A great way to reduce leftovers!
- Lastly, we feel confident your leftovers are always welcome at local shelters or charities who organize food drives.
If this little piece has sparked your interest in minimizing food waste at your restaurant, you can read the full survey from WRAP here for more ideas and insight to help prevent food waste.