Your restaurant is first and foremost, a business; and with any business comes cost. For a restaurant, the area that has the highest associated costs is food.
According to a study by the Natural Resources Defense Council, 30 to 40% of all food produced in the U.S. is wasted, which ends up costing approximately $165 billion every year. One of the biggest contributors to the food waste problem is the restaurant industry, and all of that waste can hurt your bottom line. By following these tips and making some small changes in your restaurant, such as taking inventory, changing your food orders, and using your food creatively, you can control the necessary food costs. Making your business more efficient and profitable.
Reducing food costs and waste starts with tracking and monitoring the food coming into your restaurant. Many restaurants order food in bulk shipments, but it can be difficult to use all of that food before it spoils. To reduce spoilage, here are some steps you can take:
#1. Track Your Inventory, Consistently.
By checking your inventory on a regular basis, this can give you an idea of how and at what rate your food is being used or wasted. For example, if you notice that you have arugula or salmon that is going unused and spoiling, change your food order to a lesser amount to reduce the food waste. Conversely, if you’re running out of tomatoes before your dinner service even starts, you need to increase your food order.
#2. Strategize With Your Suppliers.
Once you have an idea of how much food your restaurant uses at a given time, you can work with your suppliers to lower food costs. Research and shop around to see what competing suppliers are willing to offer. If you have a good relationship with your current supplier, ask them for a discount or to match prices with their competitors.
#3. Join a Group Purchasing Organization (GPO).
Join a purchasing group to enjoy lower food costs. Why? Due to the sheer volume of the purchasing power, suppliers often offer lower prices. Group purchasing organizations pool the resources of many small restaurants together to get the best quality goods while keeping costs low. The combined capital of many individual restaurants is significant, which gives the organization considerable leverage when bargaining with suppliers, ensuring that you’re getting a good deal.
#4. Control Portion Sizes.
Controlling the portions of your food is an excellent way to reduce waste. Monitor how much food is being thrown away. If your customers can’t finish a dish consistently, the portion is too big. Use restaurant portion control tools like portion scales and portion spoons to serve the proper amount of food to your customers.
#5. Use the First In, First Out (FIFO) Method.
This tactic is as straightforward as possible: use the first ingredients that you put into your pantries and refrigerators first. This forces you to use the oldest food first, ensures that you’re always stocked with fresh ingredients, and helps prevent food from expiring without being used.
It may sound intuitive but this is one of the simplest and most effective ways to reduce waste. Use labels or sharpies to indicate which ingredients to use first. Trust us, it is a game-changer.
#6. Daily Specials Are Your Best Friend.
Daily specials can be an effective tool for reducing waste in your kitchen. When you notice food that has been in your pantry for a while, come up with a recipe that features or uses that ingredient, and add it to your daily special list. You can also coordinate with your front-of-house staff to encourage customers to try the daily special, allowing you to clear out your stock while also making a profit.
These tips are small individually, but when used together, produce a significant impact on your business and bottom line. Tell us which methods you employ to keep your restaurant lean and efficient!