Reducing food wastage

  • 04 Oct 2014

The UK wastes 15 million tonnes of food every year.

3.9 Million tonnes comes from the hospitality and food production business.

By properly analysing your food wastage on a regular basis and ensuring that your menus have proper cross-utilisation of produce from each dish you produce, you will dramatically improve your profits and margins.

There are 6 parts to reducing wastage:

  1. Keeping ordering to a minimum and managing delivery quality
  2. Correct and regular stock rotation checks
  3. Monitoring & recording your wastage
  4. Product cross-utilisation in menu planning
  5. Portion size and control
  6. Training

Keeping ordering to a minimum and managing delivery quality

  • By ensuring your stock levels are kept to a minimum level (without running out of important food items) is very important. As a chef you need to quickly establish “what do we really need to last us through today”. Even with small teams chefs will often buy items ‘just in case’. When multiplied by 30-40 items, the stock levels rise very quickly and amazingly will use more and waste more the more they have.
  • Deliveries can often be something that a kitchen porter or a junior member of the team carries out. It is extremely important that individuals are trained and have the expertise to check quality and “use by” dates on food deliveries.
  • By ensuring you accept the freshest of produce and you are showing your suppliers that you will not tolerate sub-standard products you will naturally use fresher produce with a longer shelf life, which is both better for your customers as well as reducing wastage.
  • Using proper ordering sheets with controlled par stock levels on them is an excellent way of managing this.

Correct and regular stock rotations

  • Ensuring the chef or a senior member of the team checks all of the fridges and stores on a daily basis is critical to reducing wastage. Quite often produce gets mixed up and new items are moved to the front which then usually means the older produce will expire.
  • Having a checklist for each of the areas is a good way to ensure that everywhere is monitored including all the dry stores, fridges and freezers.

Monitoring and recording your wastage

Asking your chefs to write down everything that they have to throw away is the best way that you can assess your wastage. It is very important to discuss this with your team beforehand and explain that they will not be punished if they waste food. Ensure that if they have any questions they should ask them to avoid confusion or uncertainty.

Getting them to record this onto a form is an excellent way that you and your senior chefs can review if there is any pattern to this. Once you know how big the issue is you can then:

  • Adjust your dishes to incorporate some of this produce.
  • Develop specials that utilise this waste before it is to late.
  • Discuss with the team how waste can be reduced.

Did you know:

As an example, take a team of eight chefs working five days a week (and taking four weeks holiday a year). If every chef throws away £1.00 worth of food each day that he or she works this will equate to £1,920 per year wastage.

Product cross utilization in menu planning

  • Once you have established what items are being wasted on a regular basis, as a chef you then need to see if any of this produce can be used to create either replacement or additional dishes for your menu.
  • When writing your menus think carefully about using everything that falls out of your dish’s preparation.

For example:

  • Using beef trimmings from your steaks to make a burger or a filling for a ravioli or pasta dish.
  • Drying carrot trimmings and grinding to powder that you can sprinkle onto a pasta dish.
  • Keep cheese trimmings to make a warm cheese croquette potato dish for a vegetarian dish.

Portion size and control

  • I ask many chefs not only when did they last eat in their own restaurant, but also when did you last eat three courses in one sitting. Many chefs have no answer to this or they are suitably embarrassed that they have never done this.
  • By fully understanding what your guests experience, you can make sensible decisions not only about your dishes but also the portion size and how suitable they are.
  • Understanding if you have the right balance of protein, starch and garnish (if appropriate) is your first step to managing your portion sizes.
  • Once you have established the individual components of your dish and how much should be on the plate, then you can write exact recipes and take suitable presentation pictures.


As with everything you do in your kitchen, the better you train your team, the better the chance of you delivering a consistent product, even when you are not there.

Continuously talking and developing your team to become Chefs and managers will not only make them stay with you longer as they are learning, but also reduce your level of wastage.

Key points

  • Monitor
  • Measure
  • Adjust
  • Set standards
  • Train


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