Restaurant Food Waste Reduction Ideas

Building a Bridge to Food Waste Reduction at Your Restaurant

Food waste is a huge issue that weighs heavily on the entire foodservice industry. In restaurants alone, billions of pounds of fresh produce are lost to spoilage every year due to inefficiency. The impact of food waste doesn’t just stop at landfills. Food waste also represents the wasted water, energy, resources, and labor that all go towards growing, transporting, and storage.

Reducing your food waste is an enormous opportunity and Affinity Group is here with not only the practical tips and tricks you need to improve your restaurant’s profitability but also the insights and inspirations to harness the value of showcasing your commitment to sustainability that so many of today’s increasingly environmentally focused diners care about.

1. Add Up All the Ways You Waste 

If you really want to reduce your food waste, you need to know exactly how your restaurant currently wastes food. You can start by dividing your recyclables, trash, food waste, etc., by either setting up different waste bins or by sorting through waste at the end of your business day. Repeat this process over a couple days to get a baseline on what you waste and then multiply each category weight by a month, quarter, or year, to find out your total waste footprint.

2. The Importance of a Good Education

Educating your staff on the importance of reducing food waste will be key to your efforts in making your restaurant more efficient. Make sure to highlight the cost savings, as well as the environmental and social benefits of minimizing restaurant food waste. Consider creating a team of staff members who are responsible for spearheading food waste reduction efforts.

3. Keep Track of Your Trash

A waste log is a simple tracking tool for your staff to write down wasted product. Your waste log may be digital or just hanging on a clipboard in the kitchen. A well-kept waste log will allow you to spot patterns in food waste, so you can make a plan to fix it. It also acts a great reminder in helping your staff stay accountable in their day-to-day actions regarding food waste levels.

4. Make a Menu Change

If you are looking to minimize food waste, making your menu more efficient is a great place to start. Cutting back on the offerings on your menu or offering the option for smaller portion sizes will help streamline your inventory. By offering fewer menu items, or using similar ingredients in different dishes, you will use your inventory faster thus ensuring a better turnover rate with less waste.

5. Learn to Love Leftovers

After modifying your existing menu, take a look at your kitchen scraps. Are there any new, creative dishes you can add to the menu that can help reduce your food waste?

If you have extra ingredients or fruits and vegetables that are imperfect or unusual, see if you can create new recipes and add them as a daily special or appetizer that helps your staff make the most out of all food ingredients. Not only is this an efficient use of ingredients, it’s also a great way to get your staff involved in the process or reducing waste.

There are also apps that allow restaurants to sell their leftovers for very cheap at the end of the day. Grocers, bakeries, bagel stores, and sandwich shops utilize these apps heavily since their product can’t be used the next day.

Popular apps to look into:

Too good to go


Your local


Repurpose your protein trimmings to avoid being wasteful.

6. Let the Data Decide

Invest in tools that allow you to accurately project sales levels. By utilizing historical sales data from comparable time periods, you can make data-driven purchasing decisions. With accurate sales numbers in hand, you are better equipped for purchasing new inventory and optimizing food waste reduction.

7. Count on Your Inventory Count

Consistent, regular inventory management is a key tool in helping you create a food waste reduction strategy. Accurate inventory management lets you see exactly what ingredients are coming in and going out of your kitchen and helps you minimize over-ordering. In addition, by analyzing your inventory, you’ll have a better understanding of when you need to move a product faster and exactly when you need to make new purchases.

8. Share with Your Staff

You may end up with surplus food that can’t be sold on your menu but is safe to eat. Creating a shared meal, or “family meal” as it’s commonly called in the industry, is not only an easy way to reduce waste, but having a meal together is also a great way to help your staff bond with each other.

9. Make the Most of Compost

If there is food waste that you cannot minimize, reuse, or repurpose, your food scraps are an excellent source for compost. Instead of ending up in landfills, compost adds nutrients back to the soil. Do some research on the best local resources on how you can compost on-site, with a composting facility, or with a local hauler who can pick up your food scraps.

10. Get Serious About Global Sustainability

Finally, all your food waste reduction strategies won’t mean anything if it’s only about increasing your personal profits. Making an actual effort to be a part of the global goal of becoming a more sustainable planet is something everyone from your staff to your customers can be inspired by AND benefit from. Creating a culture that celebrates the benefits of reducing food waste can help encourage connection with your employees. Plus, if they feel proud of their work and engaged in their role, you can potentially contribute to better retention.


Reducing Food Waste Puts You in a Win-Win Situation

From increasing profits, to boosting employee morale, to making a positive impact on the environment there are many benefits to reducing food costs and making your restaurant more efficient. Remember that when you’re looking for the insights and inspiration you need to run your restaurant even more efficiently, Affinity Group is here for you. Our passionate team of experts always know how to help you target opportunities and relationships that will help you reach your full potential as you continue to Build your Bridge to Success.