Disposing of food waste responsibly, as outlined in the sister blog to this, is critically important. But, keeping waste to a an absolute minimum is even more important. According to data we gleaned from studying 92 restaurants during our 18-month FoodSave programme, the average restaurant is wasting more than seven tonnes a year worth at a cost of at least £20,000. If food waste were a country it would be the third largest producer of greenhouse gases. Ugh!

So take five and check out the most effective reduction strategies used by the near 100 restaurants, cafés, caterers and pubs that participated in our 18-month food waste reduction programme FoodSave, as well as many other SRA members since:

  • Review portion controlThe Breakfast Club reviews its batch recipes to vary for different days of the week.
  • Monitor plate wasteWahaca reviewed all the food that was going back to the kitchen and the chefs then adapted dishes and removed garnishes.
  • Train staffFoxlow trains its kitchen teams on waste control, waste and staff food budgeting and they set weekly targets. Having experienced a £27,000 saving in FoodSave the Clerkenwell restaurant now aims to keep wastage at 1-5%.
  • Use technology to monitor waste – Caterer Vacherin is measuring its waste gram for gram working with Chef’s Eye while The Shed bought the Winnow food waste monitoring equipment having seen the benefits when using it during FoodSave
  • Maximise use of ingredientsLoam changes its menu daily using up everything, including making a soy sauce from fermented mushroom trimmings.
  • Plan menus creatively The Imperial is has introduced flexible menus and can quickly add specials like soups with items that would otherwise have been binned.
  • Promote doggy boxesWahaca signed up to our 2011 Too Good To Waste campaign and offered its customers doggy boxes ever since – and cut its customer plate waste by 20% into the bargain.
  • Make full use of all fruit and veg –  Poco makes beetroot-leaf crisps and caramelise the stems; while Petrichor at the Cavendish Hotel have been treating their customers to homemade marmalade from leftover orange skin for years.
  • Switch to optional free sidesFoxlow in Clerkenwell reduced the cost of customer plate waste from £612 to 163 a week by encouraging staff to better advise customers how much to order