To run a successful restaurant is most certainly no easy feat and we applaud you if you are one of those gifted restauranteurs who have already achieved it.

Whether you are just starting out or you are a restaurant industry veteran, embarking on a cost-cutting exercise at regular intervals (or even on an ongoing basis) is always a good idea, without compromising on quality of course. In fact, in some areas, a “leaner” approach could actually increase the quality of food and service.

Food, glorious food – the delicious cornerstone of your whole business.

On 20 March 2019, the Minister for the Environment announced the key findings of Australia’s National Food Waste Baseline, which is part of implementing the National Food Waste Strategy.

In 2016-17, Australia produced 7.3 million tonnes of food waste across the supply and consumption chain. Of this, 2.5 million (34%) was created in our homes, 2.3 million tonnes (31%) in primary production and 1.8 million tonnes (25%) in the manufacturing sector. That’s a lot of food, some portion of which is being wasted in restaurants across Australia.

How you can do your part in reducing food wastage and your food costs at the same time (not just in your restaurant, but also in your own home):

  1. Monitor stock levels closely so you don’t overbuy. Using a digital inventory management system will enable you to set alerts so that you know when stock is running low and you can reorder before you run out. The less money you have stuck in stock, the better your cash flow.

  2. Track the quantity of each menu item being sold so that you know which ingredients you need to order and in what quantities. Over time trends will emerge which will allow for more accurate ordering. It will also be an indication of which menu items are most popular and help you to decide what items to add, keep or remove.

  3. Keep an eye on how much food is being left on your customers’ plates. If a certain dish consistently has leftovers on the plate, consider reducing the portion size. It could also be an indication that a dish is not going down well, so it may be a good idea to ask what your customer thought of it.

  4. Pre-portion ingredients where possible to ensure consistency and to improve preparation speed. Doing so will ensure optimal use of the food items.

  5. Design quick-reference cards for your chefs so that they know exactly how to prepare each menu item. This will help them to use the right quantities of each ingredient and retain the consistency of your dishes. When training new chefs, these cards will come in very handy.

  6. Create a food preparation list so your staff know how to prepare each item and how much of each item to prepare. Once food has been prepared for cooking it will spoil quicker than if stored in its original state, so you want to estimate as closely as possible how much needs to be prepared for food service each day.

  7. Use the FIFO method, i.e. first-in-first-out, which will ensure the items are used in order of expiry date. This involves training your staff to pack items from oldest in the front, to newest at the back.

  8. Ensure maximum usage of each item. RestaurantOwner.com suggests providing a clear plastic food box to each of your kitchen staff with their name on it. Each person would tip all their scraps, trimmings and waste into their own food box. At the end of each shift, you or a manager could have a look at the contents of each employee’s food box to see if there is excess wastage. It may be that some of them need training on how to prepare food to minimise wastage. Being able to see what is being discarded will help them to be more aware of wastage and gives you the opportunity to identify items that could potentially be used elsewhere in the kitchen. This skill and awareness will not only help your business but will also help your employees reduce food wastage in their own households.

  9. Find alternate uses for food usually thrown away, e.g. breadcrumbs out of stale bread; jam, puree or smoothies from overripe fruit; soups from (usable) vegetable cut-offs; broth from bones, etc. The possibilities are endless and it’s a great opportunity to get your staff involved in coming up with ideas. Offering up a prize for the best implementable idea each month will sweeten the deal.
  1. Consider using seasonal ingredients. When buying items out of season, the cost is usually much higher. Ingredients bought in season will also taste at their best. Changing your menu to track what’s in season is a strategy you could look at adopting.

  2. The farm-to-table trend is all the rage so why not tap into it? If you support farmers in your neighbourhood, they could probably deliver fresh produce on a regular basis, so you wouldn’t need to keep much in stock. Ingredients will get to you as fresh as they can be, and you would be benefitting your local community.

  3. Find larger vendors that are able to supply multiple products so you can negotiate discounts and better payment terms. Although they might not be the cheapest at first glance, consolidating your purchases across fewer vendors could save you on total overall spend. The large vendors may also keep more stock on hand should you need something urgently.

There are many ways to bring down your food costs, and just as importantly, overall food wastage in Australia. Not only will you be boosting the profits in your business, you will also be playing a part in caring for our one-and-only planet. This has the makings of a good public relations story, so also think about how you can turn your food wastage reduction initiatives into an opportunity to promote your brand.

You invest so much time, money and effort in your business, so we want to make sure your restaurant is protected. Ryno Insurance will work with you to customise insurance cover for your one-of-a-kind restaurant.

P: 1300 650 670
E: hello@rynoinsurance.com.au
W: www.rynoinsurance.com.au/hospitality

Important Note: All insurance policies have exclusions. Please refer to the Product Disclosure Statement or Policy Wording to decide whether an insurance policy meets your needs.

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