Efficient food prep unlocks door to lower food waste costs for kitchens

Kitchen prep

The cost of food being wasted in the UK from the UK hospitality and foodservice industry is estimated at more than £2.5 billion a year.

What’s more, 45% of food waste comes from food preparation, underscoring the difference that having the right equipment and practices can make from both a financial and operational perspective.

Figures from waste resource charity Wrap estimate that 920,000 tonnes of food is wasted at outlets each year, 75% of which is avoidable and could have been eaten.

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Foodservice supplier Alliance Online has published a guide to some of the methods that restaurants can adopt to reduce wastage and ensure more effective prep. Here are some of its top tips:

1. Get staff buy-in

One of the ways to reduce waste and manage it more effectively is to hold a staff meeting and teach your staff the importance of waste management.

Once you’ve held a session, get simple notes clearly typed up so everyone has a copy and understands your waste system.

There are simple things that might be causing more food waste than you think, for example, the work flow of the kitchen.

If there isn’t a streamlined direction in the kitchen then your staff will be moving all over the area probably knocking into each other and causing food and drink to spill unnecessarily.  Look at the work flow and introduce a system which reduces small accidents.

2. Check food prep equipment

If your food equipment isn’t operating efficiently there’s bound to be more waste. Knives that don’t chop well, food peelers that take off more than just the skin of fruit or vegetables, saucepans which burn food at the base…ask yourself if you need to invest in new utensils and saucepans.

By using good quality food equipment you will reduce the amount of kitchen waste.

3. Monitor waste production

If you aren’t sure how much waste your kitchen turns over then set up a trial and keep an eye on it for a week so you can see where the bulk of the waste is coming from.

This is a trial you can repeat every now and then to see if there is a shift and hopefully the results will help you to plan ahead more profitably.

Collect food waste in different bins: spoilage, plate waste and food prep. Don’t use your waste disposal during this trial.

Weigh the bins daily to determine where the most food waste comes from. Then work out how much food waste you are producing per year per tonne. Food waste per tonne is £3,500 and this figure will help you make the calculation.

Once you know where the waste is coming from you can re-visit your menu and change it to minimise the waste.

You will also understand whether some of the ingredients you are using are going directly to waste and can alter your purchasing accordingly.

4. Check your food stores

Always store your food properly. Make sure you have good quality airtight containers where you need them and keep chilled products at the right temperature so food doesn’t spoil unnecessarily.

If food is kept in the right place and labelled up appropriately you will have less food waste. Make sure your kitchen team use food in strict rotation so food with a shorter use by date is used up before other food set to go out of date later on.

You should regularly rotate your fridge food and dry goods. Make sure the food to be used first is placed at the front; perhaps adopt a rule such as new food always stored to the right-hand side of the fridge or food store and older food stored to the left hand side. This is an excellent method to adopt because your food will always be fresh so reduce waste.

Metcalfe Catering Equipment is the Platinum Partner sponsor of the Food Preparation category of FEJ Kitchen Excellence Week. For information about Metcalfe Catering Equipment and its range of products, call 01766 830456 or visit 

Tags : Food PreparationKitchen Excellence WeekMetcalfe Catering Equipment
Andrew Seymour

The author Andrew Seymour

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