food and beverage underground

Reducing Food Waste in your Kitchen

One of the major challenges in any commercial kitchen is reducing food waste. If you‘re having trouble in your
kitchen try to change your habits of storage. How many times have you gone through your coolers and found those five gallon containers, we all reuse, sitting in the back of the cooler? When you pull it out and open it you find five little rotting tomatoes at the bottom. This isn't reducing food waste.

Many years ago when I was the General Manager at a growing chain restaurant I had a Regional Manager that would come into my restaurant and without fail would read me the riot act about his pet peeves. One was his beliefs on reducing food waste. This was my first experience with chain restaurants so I just blew most of what I considered his idiosyncrasies as corporate junk. My background had always been with finer dining restaurants and I was always superior in my thinking so I usually just made things right for his visits and moved on.

No paper boxes!

After my corporate experience (which I have enormous respect for now as a learning experience) I opened my first restaurant of my own. I didn’t take long before I found myself using some of the very words I use to scoff at. One that still sticks with me today is similar to “NO, wire hangers! That’s right it’s “No paper Boxes!”

One of the easiest tricks to lowering your food cost is to get your product out of the boxes they come in as soon as they arrive. That’s right, those cans need to come out and go on the shelves individually, that case of brown sugar needs to be broken down and individual boxes put up. The reasoning is self evident, but more effective than you may imagine. The advantages are not so evident as well as this will reduce over ordering, running out of product and theft too.

Now, back to those coolers. The same system is implemented here. Get those products out of those boxes. Items should be stored individually, but since these items are perishable we will go a step further. Open up your cooler and take a good look. Do you have those five gallon hard plastic pickle buckets many restaurants re-use? Get them out!

Make the investment

You are going to need to make a small investment in clear plastic containers of various sizes, but the investment will return ten fold to you. From this day forward everything needs to be stored in these clear plastic containers. We have looked around the internet and the best prices we have found is at Instawares. To see the pricing simply click on the picture of the containers pictured below:

That is the easy habit to implement but the other two are a little harder, but are absolutes if you want to reduce food waste. First, always transfer product into the smallest container you can, second if there is a need for two or more containers of the same product (this should only happen when production dates are important and product is day dotted) the oldest must be in front (good day dotting also goes a long way in reducing food waste) so it is used first, and finally the product is always in the same general area of the cooler. Reducing food waste is the goal so keeping product in front of your staff, and using it in proper rotation is vital.

You, as the Chef or Kitchen Manager can not be in the kitchen 24-7, so you need to instill this system and start accepting nothing less than this system from today on. It takes five days to make an effort and 14 days to make a habit. Once this is a habit with your staff you will be shocked at just how pleased you are in not only the ease of the system, but by just how well it reduces food waste, and how much smoother your kitchen will run.

Go from Reducing Food Cost to Kitchen Prep List

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