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Re:Menu- Managing Restaurant Food Waste

When it comes to reducing food waste in the professional kitchen there are some tried and true methods for achieving optimal results. In this case, not only are the results reduction of overall waste, but better yet; increased revenue! More on that later.

Let's break this down into what I call the "Food Waste Reduction Timeline".


- Use Cycle menus when possible

Cycle menus are reoccurring menus on fixed timelines. 2, 3 or 4 week rotations. Simple right? That way you know you'll use up inventory before spoilage and you can use how the menu did last time to solve waste issues.

Menu cycles will ensure the ingredients for the week/month sync up with each other. Focus on the best seasonal ingredients for that timeframe for freshness.

Here's an example: Fresh tomatoes daily: salsas, bruschetta, roasted at entrée station etc.

Order on what's on menu and needed

-Eliminate all standing orders for food. All food orders should be reviewed daily to ensure appropriate adjustments.

-Make one large order and one “supplemental” order per week.

-Establish the minimum or maximum of food that needs to be maintained between deliveries based on the menu. Consider building in population fluctuation for weather and holidays.

- Before placing an order, inventory walk-ins and storerooms for items already on hand. (Do not guess- I know silly but you'd be surprised how much it happens)

-Keep a good, detailed and accurate inventory. Food on hand should not exceed it's shelf life.

-Remember to inventory "Food in Process": it's not just about what's in the store room and cold holding. (fridge freezer) Look at what's being prepped for the day, and set up in the kitchen (on station)

-Utilize everything for the day and put product back into menu (lunch/dinner specials). Chef should create a list of things that can be produced from leftover product.