food waste policy

What Are the Best Practices for Reducing Food Waste in Restaurants?

In the culinary world, food waste is an unfortunate reality. From overproduction to spoilage and plate waste, restaurants grapple with the challenge of minimizing their environmental impact while maintaining profitability. Understanding the causes of food waste and implementing effective strategies can significantly reduce waste and promote sustainable practices in the restaurant industry.

What Are The Best Practices For Reducing Food Waste In Restaurants?

Causes Of Food Waste In Restaurants


  • Inaccurate demand forecasting: Misjudging customer demand leads to excess food preparation, resulting in waste.
  • Poor inventory management: Inefficient inventory systems contribute to overstocking and spoilage.


  • Improper storage conditions: Incorrect temperatures or lack of proper storage facilities can cause food to spoil quickly.
  • Lack of FIFO (First In, First Out) inventory management: Failing to use older ingredients before newer ones leads to spoilage.

Plate waste:

  • Large portion sizes: Generous portions often lead to customers leaving uneaten food.
  • Lack of customer awareness: Many customers are unaware of the environmental and economic impacts of food waste.

Best Practices For Reducing Food Waste In Restaurants

Pre-Production Planning:

  • Accurate demand forecasting: Utilize historical data, POS systems, and customer feedback to predict demand accurately.
  • Efficient inventory management: Implement FIFO inventory systems, conduct regular audits, and use technology for inventory tracking.

Production and Storage:

  • Proper storage conditions: Maintain appropriate temperatures for different food items and use airtight containers to prevent spoilage.
  • Portion control: Train staff on proper portion sizes and offer smaller portion options or half-orders.
  • Creative use of leftovers: Incorporate leftovers into new dishes, offer discounted "family meals" or "doggy bags."

Customer Engagement:

  • Educate customers about food waste: Display signage or provide information on menus, offer smaller portion options or "shareable" plates.
  • Encourage customers to take leftovers home: Provide to-go containers or doggy bags, offer discounts or loyalty rewards for taking leftovers.
  • Implement a "pay-what-you-waste" policy: Charge customers a small fee for excessive plate waste.

Additional Strategies for Food Waste Reduction:

  • Composting and Food Donation: Compost food scraps and organic waste to reduce landfill waste and create nutrient-rich soil. Donate surplus food to food banks or shelters to help feed those in need.
  • Employee Training and Awareness: Train staff on food waste reduction practices, encourage them to be mindful of portion sizes and storage procedures, implement regular training sessions, and create a culture of sustainability.

Reducing food waste in restaurants requires a comprehensive approach that involves pre-production planning, efficient production and storage, customer engagement, and additional strategies like composting and food donation. By implementing these best practices, restaurants can significantly reduce their environmental impact, save money, and contribute to a more sustainable food system.

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