These practical steps will not only help you reduce food waste in your business, but also save you time and money in the long run.
If you’re looking to cut costs and increase profits, join our free Your Business is Food program. It provides you with all the information, advice and resources you need to reduce food waste in your business, while engaging staff and customers in the process.
Step 1 - Do a review
Most food waste is generated by everyday activities like purchasing, preparation and plate waste. Once you know how much food you’re throwing out, you can work out how to reduce food waste and start saving money. Here’s how to conduct a food waste review.
- Collect three bins or buckets - one each for preparation waste, food spoilage and plate waste. Remember to label them so you know which one is which.
- Ask staff to place all food waste into the corresponding bin and weigh the bin at the end of each day, or when full. Do the collection every day for a week.
- Record how many meals were served each day.
- At the end of the week, add up the totals for each bin and the number of meals served.
- Do another review once you’ve made changes in your business, to see how you’ve improved.
Step 2 - Sharpen your orders
Checking how much stock you already have and only ordering what you need can make a big difference when it comes to cutting costs and reducing the amount of food you throw out.
- Order fruit and vegetables in season to save money. If you source them locally they’ll likely last longer as they haven’t travelled as far.
- If possible, order ingredients cut to size, so you can minimise offcuts.
- Consider what meals are more popular each day and season, so you can adjust your order to suit demand.
- Only purchase items in bulk if you have space to store them and can use them before they expire.
- Work closely with suppliers to develop a good ordering system and maximise profitability.
Step 3 - Create a clever menu
A well-designed menu will not only keep your customers satisfied, but also help you maintain an efficient kitchen with no unnecessary staff or food costs.
- Record the number of each meal sold each week, to help you understand which menu items are popular and which can be removed.
- Create meals that help you use up stock, like making soups or sauces from leftover meat and vegetables.
- Employ ‘nose to tail’ or ‘root to stalk’ cooking methods, where you use every part of the ingredient.
- Explore ways of using the same ingredients for a number of different dishes on the menu.
Step 4 - Store food smarter
Storing food correctly is one of the best ways to reduce operating costs, boost profits and avoid spoilage.
- Try to store food as soon as it’s delivered, using airtight containers or vacuum packaging to keep it fresh.
- Check the date labels and rotate stock as soon as it arrived, so the oldest food is always used first.
- Keep storage areas clean and dry, and check the temperature of your fridge and freezer regularly.
Step 5 - Train your staff
Reducing food waste requires ongoing communication with your team, so they can support your initiative.
- Try to involve all staff and nominate a champion or team to take ownership of the program, monitor progress and answer any questions.
- Get feedback from staff about the menu, portion sizes and items that are often left uneaten, like garnishes or condiments.
- Keep your team updated on progress and celebrate their achievements.
Step 6 - Reduce plate waste
Your food waste review will help you understand how full your customers are and what items they regularly leave on the plate, so you can implement solutions to reduce plate waste and increase your profits.
- Offer a range of portion sizes to give customers more choice about how much they eat.
- Offer side dishes and garnishes as an option, rather than adding them automatically.
- Offer take-away containers when customers still have food left on their plate. The Food Act 2003 (NSW) allows businesses to provide take-away containers and puts the onus on the customer to store and handle food safely. Our Your Business is Food takeaway container stickers let customers know what to do.
Step 7 - Donate or recycle
If you have unsold portions of food that are edible, you can donate them to charity. With more than 100,000 people in NSW going hungry each month, it’s a great way to reduce food waste while helping people in need.
- Charities like Foodbank, OzHarvest and SecondBite collect unsold food and provide it to people experiencing food insecurity.
- The Love Food Hate Waste Donation Tool Kit (PDF 3.0MB) provides all the information you need to make sure you meet your food safety obligations.
- You may be able to set up your own worm farm or compost bin, instead of sending leftovers to landfill (just check with your local council first).
- Find a service in your area that collects food waste, or talk to nearby businesses to see if you can come up with a solution for everyone.