While taking all the steps to ensure higher revenue and profit margins, restaurateurs often ignore a critical aspect of restaurant operations: kitchen waste management. Now, there are two aspects to kitchen waste management. One is to ensure that minimal waste being generated at your restaurant. However, there are certain food wastage that cannot be avoided. Hence comes the second part of kitchen waste management, and that is recycling and disposing of the waste in a responsible manner. In this article, we’ll discuss the importance of waste management in a restaurant and how you should achieve it.
The Need for Kitchen Waste Management in Restaurant
The primary reasons kitchen waste management is essential in your restaurants are:
1. It Definitely Costs You Money
Lack of kitchen waste management is one of the main hidden reasons that lead to escalating food costs. You buy raw materials with money, hence if your kitchen ends up generating large amounts of waste then it is you who is losing out on the money. For example, if you are unaware of how many customers visit your restaurant on a daily basis, and your kitchen staff makes the primary arrangements, like chopping of vegetables, of exactly double the number of expected customers, then either you will have to store the excess amount of chopped vegetables and to use it next day by compromising on the freshness of the quality of food offered, or it goes into the dustbin. In both the situations, you are at loss.
2. It Impacts Environment In a Negative Way
Food waste is increasingly becoming a growing area of concern for our community in terms of waste collection, disposal, and greenhouse gases. When rotting food in your restaurant ends up in a landfill it turns into methane, a greenhouse gas that is particularly damaging to the environment. Food waste not only damages the environment it also wastes the valuable water and energy resources used to produce food. Customers are also now moving towards more eco-friendly alternatives, and a restaurant is no different when it comes to making dining choices. A green restaurant that is making conscientious decisions towards recycling and reducing waste automatically gets bonus points.
Top Kitchen Waste Management Techniques That You Must Swear By!
Kitchen waste management has become a growing concern so much so that, there has been a buzz around the media on this. The Times of India reached out to various restaurant owners to know the techniques of kitchen waste management they implement. The answers ranged from reuse of leftovers, feeding their staff to hiring in-house food controller to check the spoilage and wastage of food.
Knowing that kitchen waste management is essential for all restaurants, we here would guide and point out the various techniques which you can quickly implement that will ensure that you are generating minimum waste in your restaurant and responsibly dispose off the waste.
1. Educate Your Staff
Unless your staff are aware of the negative impacts of the kitchen waste management, then how will they realize the predicament of the situation and act responsibly to curb the generation of the waste? Hence, your first step towards controlling kitchen waste is to educate your staffs on how to prepare the dishes. If there is a recipe management system in your restaurant ask your staffs to strictly follow the quantities of items in each dish. You as a restaurant owner can ask your manager to provide training and a detailed manual to all your new staff, and also to schedule a periodical session to refresh the memory of your already existing staff on kitchen waste management techniques.
2. Create a Food Waste Audit
Unless you know from where food waste is generated, how will you try and control it? Hence, your first step should be to identify from where it is generated and how much is it generated. The best ways to keep a count of how much waste is generated is by managing a waste sheet.
Waste includes food items or drinks made incorrectly. Thus a waste sheet should include the name of the item that was wasted, why it was wasted, the quantity of the wasted material and the cost of the item that was wasted. Following this method will ensure that you have put down your finger on the focal point from where food waste is generated.
Waste generated at the customer table must also be taken into consideration. This is generally called the post-consumer waste or the food the customers pay for but don’t eat. This could be for any reason, either the quantity was too much or a kid refused to eat the item ordered by the mother or, they simply expected a different type of dish while ordering, hence left it untouched at the table. However, you can hardly control the behaviour of the customers, keep a track of the waste generated from the customers’ end will help you evaluate the changes that need to be brought forth from the restaurant’s end that will help to reduce the generation of kitchen waste.
3. How To Reduce The Generation Of Kitchen Waste
Once you have the clear idea about the items that are wasted and the quantity of the items that are wasted you can move to the next step on how to reduce the generation of kitchen waste. The best way to go ahead with this is to use the right restaurant kitchen equipment for food preparation and divide the waste generated into categories.
(i) Pre-Consumer Waste
These are those items that do not even get a chance to come out of the kitchen. This is one such domain where you can act and expect very positive returns as there are many aspects of pre-consumer wastes that you can control.
- Managing Inventory and Storage: Do you see that there are items which are getting spoilt even before they are used in the kitchen? If so, then make sure that you don’t order the items in excess. Managing your inventory well is an art, make sure your executive chef is properly informed about inventory management and places orders at the right time to avoid wastage of raw materials.
In addition to this, you must have proper storage facilities. Not having proper freezers can be another reason why your raw materials are getting spoilt. Every item has different storing temperature, make sure that you do proper research on them. This will increase the shelf life of the items. You can also put labels on your items, that would act as a reminder that those items will be of no use very soon.
- Try And Use The Leftovers: The chefs in your kitchen must have a creative mind to use yesterday’s leftovers as a new innovative addition to an already existing dish, or a piece of garnish. Such little innovations will not cost you much but will ensure that you are using your leftovers to the optimum level and these sudden changes will keep your customers hooked to your restaurant.
If the amount left behind cannot be used for another serving, you can offer your staff a free meal. During the meal, you can discuss if your staffs are facing any issues at work if they have any new ideas that can be incorporated and such other related stuff. This will not only ensure that your items are not wasted, it will also make your staffs feel needed.
If the food left behind is of a considerable amount, but for some reason or the other you will not be able to use it next day, for example, if the next day is a designated state holiday or if your restaurant will remain closed the next day for some other reason. In such a situation, you can get in touch with local NGOs and donate your food. This will ensure that your excess food items are being properly used instead of getting wasted.
- Vegetable Peels which Can Be Used As A Fodder: Kitchen has a lot of vegetable peels, instead of throwing them in the dustbin, you can very well get in touch with local farmers and give it to them, who can use these peels as fodder for their animals.
(ii) Post-Consumer Waste
These are those waste which is generated after they leave the kitchen. Although there is hardly anything you can do to control customer behaviour, there are certainly few methods that you can follow that will ensure that the generation of this type of waste is well under control.
- Portion Control Is A Must: If you see that there are a few dishes that your customers are unable to finish every time they order, you must get the hint that there are some issues. If there are no complaints on the taste then you should understand the probably the portion size of the dish is too much to be finished. In such a situation you must strategize on how to control your portion. You can definitely take help from consultants on the most suitable portion size, you can even use measuring utensils like measuring spoons, bowls and the like. This will ensure that you are not serving more or less than what is expected.
- Scrape The Menu Items Not Performing Well: There have to be a few menu items which are either less ordered or not ordered at all. When you can locate these menu items you can either bring in some innovations into the dish to attract the customers, if this technique fails then you can decide to scrape the item from your menu itself.
- Make The Dish As Per The Expectation: It is often seen that customers return their dish if they are unsatisfied with the taste of the dish or with the ingredients that have gone into making the dish. In such a situation your kitchen has no other option but to discard that rejected dish and prepare a new one. To avoid such situations that produce such wastage, you can insert a detailed description of the dishes in your menu card. This will prepare your customers and they will expect accordingly.
Encourage Customers To Pack And Take the Excess Food On The Table, Home: If you see that there is the considerable amount of food that a customer is leaving behind, you can advise the customer to take the food back home. Keep disposable containers handy so that customers can take home whatever they are unable to finish.This will help in reducing the generation of kitchen waste to a great extent.
4. Tips On How You Should Get Rid of Disposables
There are a few items that just cannot be consumed, this includes plastics, cans, disposable bottles as well. Instead of just throwing them, which will just add up to the garbage of the world, you can find effective ways that will reduce their negative impact on the environment.
Run Your Own Composting Program
If you can squeeze in a small area behind your restaurant or in any part of the city and run your composting program then nothing like it! Composting is essentially a waste disposal treatment which is the controlled aerobic decomposition of organic waste material, with the help of small invertebrates or microorganisms. There are various techniques of composting as well, they are static pile composting, vermicomposting, windrow composting and in-vessel composting. However, having your own composting site might not always be a feasible idea. Hence, you can get in touch with a composter who will collect your disposables, all that you need to do is, separate the garbage, that is the one that can be composted from the other garbage.
To a restaurant owner, it is a daunting task to keep a track of the kitchen waste generated and to try and spread the awareness of kitchen waste management amongst your staff. Mostly all restaurants generate a large amount of waste, hence knowing the predicament of the situation we have tried to discuss why is kitchen waste management so important and how you can go ahead and implement it.