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Restaurant / QSR Blog

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Preventing Food Waste at Your Restaurant

How to Reduce Food Waste in Your Quick Service Restaurant

Does it seem like food prices are on the rise? Well, that’s because they are. In 2014, food prices went up by more than 5%. As a quick service restaurant owner you’re likely feeling the pinch, which makes food waste a tough pill to swallow. If you’ve ever had a slower than expected day that led to tossing out expensive and now expired food inventory, or even if you just want to make your restaurant more environmentally friendly, you’ll want to keep reading to learn more about preventing food waste at your restaurant.

Use your POS system to prevent food waste

If you use a point-of-sale, or POS, system in your restaurant you already have a helpful tool that can give you insights into managing your food inventory. These systems are equipped with historical data that you can pour over, allowing you to see what food was ordered and when. This information can help you create a prep plan so that employees can prepare the appropriate amount of ingredients for each shift.

Some POS systems even have built-in and automatic inventory control, alerting managers when inventory levels get low and ingredients need to be reordered.

Repurpose ingredients to use in new items

If your restaurant always seems to end up with extra scraps, like unused dough, try to think of creative ways to reuse those bits and pieces. That’s what Randy Gier, the CEO of fast casual restaurant Pie Five Pizza did. They already have a simple concept, but they took it a step further by using the thin dough that’s leftover at the end of each night to make crispy salad bowls.

H3: Donate unused food in your restaurant

If you can’t repurpose ingredients for restaurant use there are other ways to ensure the food doesn’t go to waste. Programs like Feeding America make it easy to donate food to those in need. You’ll be helping a good cause and eliminating unnecessary waste.

Reevaluate serving sizes

Maybe you’re prepared to tackle food waste in your own restaurant’s kitchen, but let’s not forget about another area of food waste: your customers. In an attempt to create a sense of value restaurants love serving up heaping portions. Consider adding smaller sized menu items at reduced prices for customers without hefty appetites. Instead of an entree-sized salad, consider adding a smaller portion to the menu. A personal-sized pizza could sound appetizing to certain diners as well. Smaller portion sizes will reduce your food costs while simultaneously giving customers more options.

If you aren’t sure whether your diners would go for smaller sizes, don’t toss the idea aside… ask them! Have customers fill out a short survey about whether they throw away uneaten food from your restaurant, for example. These insights can be a helpful guide to analyzing your current menu.

Compost the food your restaurant can’t repurpose or reduce

Inevitably, you’ll end up with a certain degree of food waste from your restaurant, there’s no way around it. In that case the next best thing to do is to compost any organic waste. If you aren’t sure where to begin, this guide to restaurant composting is an excellent resource to start with.

About the Author — Kimberly Bremner

At Envysion, Kim works with QSR and Fast Casual Restaurant owners to help improve their customer experiences, store operations and profitability by providing an optimized partnership. With over 10 years of successful experience in enterprise software sales, Kim has worked with a diverse range of clients to help them improve and grow their businesses. She brings value to many markets, including hospitality, telecommunications, education and the non-profit sector. Kim earned her bachelor’s degree in marketing from the University of Denver.

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