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How to reduce your food waste
“1.1 Million tonnes of food ARE thrown away by the hospitality and food service industry every year.”
Before the pandemic, food waste had started to grab headlines in hospitality. The figures are shocking. But, where do we stand today?
With hospitality being forced to close or operate at reduced capacity for most of the past 19 months, many venues have found themselves cutting costs and being more creative with the food they have in stock. As we reach a more ‘normal’ time, these learnings can be taken forwards and expanded upon to help reduce the waste food mountain.
What can I do?
Look at WRAP’s Guardians of Grub site (brws.it/guardians), which has a calculator to work out how much money you’ll save by cutting your waste. Even if you’re not as passionate about the environmental impact, think about the effect your waste is having on your finances – this could be the catalyst you need to make changes.
Some things you can’t control, such as how many covers you’ll do in a day, but you can reduce your risk of having excess waste with careful menu planning. Unilever Food Solutions has a guide to adjusting and creating menus – brws.it/menus
Use the Wise up on Waste tool (brws.it/wise) to see how much is going in the bin and which areas need work. Here are some suggestions on how you can reduce each type of waste…
“75% of the food wasted could have been eaten.”
customers’ plate Waste?
If customers are leaving food but you’re getting good feedback, reduce your portion sizes. Providing large meals is tempting as you want customers to feel like they’re getting good value, but it’s actually not helping your bank balance and many customers will be unhappy they are leaving food on their plates! If you cut down the size, you could reduce the price or increase your margin.
The Nestlé Footprint Sustainability Index 2021 report suggests offering customers a doggy bag if they leave food, or pre-empt the waste by ‘asking the customer how hungry they are when they order and offering a reduced price, half portion of popular items likes chips.’
You’ll never completely eradicate this type of waste but it can go to good use. Do you have local farms who would use it to feed livestock? Could you compost it? Or get a company to collect it to be composted.
Rethink your planning. Could you get smaller deliveries more often to better manage stock? If products have a best before date that has passed, check the quality as it will often still be safe to use. Look for signs of damaged packaging or obvious signs of something going stale. It is vitally important that products are not used after their use by date, which is different to best before dates.
Check fridge and freezer temperatures and how you’re storing dried goods if products are perishing before they should. Look at this A-Z guide of how to best store food to extend its shelf life – brws.it/azguide
Food prep waste?
Find inventive ways to use vegetables. Cauliflower leaves aren’t just for protection, they can also make a tasty side dish, braised with butter, herbs and stock. Try this one – brws.it/caulileaves Chop up broccoli stalks and throw into a veg-packed macaroni cheese or stir fry.
Soup is a brilliant dish to use up odds and ends – turn bread crusts into croutons and fry in garlic oil or add scraps of bacon to a minestrone or lentil-based soup as a garnish.
Coffee grounds can be a huge source of waste for cafés. Dan Westerman, Wholesale National Account Manager at Taylors of Harrogate, says: “Don’t discard old coffee grounds in your general waste. Compost them or, if your venue has a garden, sprinkle them on the soil for a great fertiliser. Coffee grounds also make a good alternative to harsh chemicals when polishing your cookware as they’re abrasive.”
Leftovers from service?
If you’re ending up with vats of sauces, rice, soup or similar, make friends with your freezer. Or look at putting on lunchtime specials the next day to use up excess stocks.
This kind of waste can be caused by an issue with menu planning. Go back to your recipes and take a careful look at each dish you make. Check quantities to ensure you only make enough for that exact amount.
Many venues have relationships with local charities such as homeless shelters and regularly donate surplus meals, so definitely consider this if you don’t already do it.
“If food waste were a country, it would be the third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases after China and the US”