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Environment / Food / Pubs / 07 November 2019

Take Stock of your Food Waste this Christmas

Christmas is one of the busiest times of the year for any kitchen and front of house. Whether from increased covers or a series of buffet parties, there’s likely to be a lot more food leaving the kitchen and, sadly, a corresponding spike in food waste.

‘Guardians of Grub’ is a campaign designed for the hospitality and food service sector to help reduce their carbon impact and limit wasted food. It’s about empowering kitchens to be even more efficient by sharing free tools and case studies to ensure operators are focused on feeding people, not bins.

Our favourite festive tip is to make the perfect stock by using any leftover bones in your broth, and any herb trimmings that usually go in the bin can add flavour too. This will help give you the perfect stock for risottos and soup!

Our six tips to limit wasted food at Christmas are:

  • Get the right portion size. Offer portion sizes and side dish options as well as takeaway doggy boxes. There’s nothing nicer than seeing a party go home with a Boxing Day treat. Asking about what they want in the first place will help avoid unnecessary waste.
    • Case study: The Ship Inn. Plate waste was reduced by 67% by putting out smaller portions of sauce and offering smaller portion sizes, particularly chips. The kitchen also stopped putting garnishes on sandwiches, burgers and other meals.
  • Engage with your customers. Let them know you care about what happens to the food you are serving and that ensuring they get the very best, without waste, is important to you. Find out what food they don’t like and leave it out of their meal – research shows that people increasingly care about food waste, so this approach will help them take action.
  • Clever ordering can cut waste. Check your stock and purchase only what you need for what’s coming up. Try buying smaller portions of fresh produce (and ordering more often), as well as supporting local suppliers – you’ll get fresh seasonal produce that lasts longer. You can keep track of how you are doing with our Guardians of Grub tracking sheets to see how you can improve next year and for future festivals.
    • Case study: Greene King. Too much food was being prepared late in the evening service period, after the main evening peak, which led to unnecessary spoilage. By tracking bookings and customer numbers in the restaurant, requirements for defrosting and other preparation could be more carefully controlled, reducing wastage of high value ingredients.
  • Savvy storage stops waste. First in, first out! Store newer items at the back to ensure older items are used first, and label and date new supplies as they come in. Use airtight containers or cling film to keep ingredients fresh – or freeze them. Look at how leftovers can be utilised in new dishes; bits and pieces not served might make additions to the next meal. Freeze and defrost meat in batches, rather than all at once.
    • Case study: Dragon Hotel. The introduction of a stock control system has led to reduction in food costs of 4% overall, and a better menu design has led to a 25% decrease in perishable food purchasing costs.
  • Festive menu. Explore ways of using the same ingredients for different dishes. Use cooking methods for meat, fruit and vegetables and herbs that make the most of ingredients and get creative by using leftover ingredients and offcuts.
  • Essential skills. Empower staff and train them on how to throw away less food safely. Review your preparation schedule and food handling procedures and remove less popular or time-consuming dishes from your menu.

You can work out which top tips are best for your commercial kitchen by tracking where the food thrown away on your site is coming from. This will allow you to find the hot spots, working with your kitchen team to find out how you can save and see how this makes a difference straight to the bottom line. Check out the operational tools here to find out more.

Written by

Eleanor Morris

Guardians of Grub Spokesperson

Further Reading