Video: Stop throwing money away with these 5 tips to reduce food waste in your restaurant

Food waste is a problem. It’s costing you time, money, and added stress.

A healthy food waste variance in the restaurant industry is right around 7 percent. If you’re not hitting that mark, don’t worry! With a few easy adjustments, you can start reclaiming your margins and capture more revenue.

In this month’s OpsWise video, you’ll learn helpful food waste tips to start today, including advice on:

  • Sales forecasting
  • Ordering
  • Prepping
  • Training
  • Tracking

Want to tell your team? Download our PDF handout for a one-page summary you can share with your managers and employees for future reference.


Download the PDF handout


Hi, this is Claire from Delaget.

Controlling and maintaining ideal food cost variances is a big deal for restaurant operators, because it directly impacts your profits and loss.

Food waste, including mistakes and miscalculations, can make up as much as 2% of your targeted food cost variance. That adds up to some serious money over the course of a year.

Don’t miss your opportunity to identify a food waste problem – follow these five tips to help your team minimize food waste.

#1 – Know how much food you really need to order

Sales forecasting is the starting point for everything you do. Focus on making accurate daily forecasts that apply to your ordering cycles – typically every three to four days . This will set the tone for how much product you need to order and prep. A forecast variance of 5 to 7% is a great target.

#2 – Create a build-to-order plan

Balancing inventory to provide enough product to meet demand while limiting expired food waste is a real challenge.

Accurate inventories, along with accurate forecasting, will set you up with a great build-to-order plan.  Trust the numbers, blend in some gut-feeling, and employ a checklist to optimize order placement. The more attention to your process, the better; and feel free to get a second opinion before submitting an order.

Receiving is a key factor as well—avoid waste by rotating product with FIFO (first in, first out) and using the oldest product first.

#3 – Make sure your managers are setting the prep schedule

Don’t leave the prep schedule in the hands of employees—they have a habit of over-prepping.

The manager-in-charge must own the prep schedule and assign the proper amount of food prep for each time period or day part. Keep in mind, when you lose food to over prepping, you are losing the labor associated with preparing it as well.

And don’t waste food to improper carry-over procedures. If your brand allows carry-over items – products held overnight and used the next day – be sure proper procedures are followed for cooling, packaging, and reheating the product the next day.

#4 – Train your cashiers

Make sure your cashiers are fully-versed on the ins and outs of your menu, know how to ring through your Point of Sale, and are able to anticipate guest needs BEFORE they serve a customer. You’ll see more accurate customer orders, which reduces waste and mistakes. Plus, your speed of service will improve.

And don’t forget to monitor cashier performance: high deletions, voids, and cancels will signal training opportunities that – when corrected – will improve customer experience and reduce waste. 

#5 – Track and report on waste

Do you know how much of your food cost variance is lost to waste?  If you’re serious about waste and your food cost variance, you must track it. Include these numbers in store reporting.

Share the results and set new goals with your team.  This is the most overlooked tactic to understanding food cost variance problems. Make this a priority and watch your food waste problems vanish. 

And there you have it, five tips for reducing your QSR’s food waste and improving your food cost margins. Does it seem like a lot to manage? Don’t worry – there are above-store reporting solutions available that help you track food costs and identify potential areas where waste is occurring. 


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