Every year, US restaurants waste between 22 and 33 billion pounds of food.
Not only is food loss a waste of money, but it's also damaging to the environment. When unused food gets thrown away, it's transported to a landfill where it releases methane and contributes to global warming.
While it's impossible to avoid food wastage entirely, there are ways to repurpose unused ingredients and make your kitchen more sustainable.
1. Save Scraps for Fermentation
Fermentation, or the chemical breakdown of bacteria, yeast and other microorganisms, is a process commonly used to make things like beer, wine and yogurt. It can also be used to transform food scraps into new, tasty ingredients. Stuck with kale or broccoli stems? Make pickled vegetables! Have some apple peels? Make apple cider vinegar! The possibilities are endless.
2. Turn Old Ingredients Into Cheese
Next time you suspect your milk is going sour, don't just dump it down the sink — try making cheese instead! Old milk can be used to make cheese curds, cottage cheese or firm cheese with the consistency of feta. All you need is milk, white vinegar and a cheesecloth.
3. Make Fuel Out of Coffee Grounds
Have you ever wondered how much waste results from your morning cup of coffee? The answer is a lot. Coffee shops accumulate tons of coffee grounds that usually end up sitting in a landfill. However, believe it or not, these grounds can actually be used to create fuel to power wood burners and stoves. They can also be used to make unique dishes and mugs. If you don't know how to repurpose coffee grounds, consider donating them to an organization that can!
4. Use Food Waste to Make Compost
Composting is a natural process that involves recycling organic matter — such as food scraps — to create fertilizer. Professional restaurants in the United Kingdom (such as Arbor and Sat Bains) have successfully implemented composting systems to lower the amount of food scraps that end up in the trash.
5. Donate Your Cooking Oil
Cooking oil is more versatile than one might think — along with frying up your favorite dish, it can be repurposed into biofuel and used to heat homes. This sustainability method is frequently used by Arbor, a restaurant that earned the title of "UK's most eco-friendly restaurant." In addition to donating your unused cooking oil, consider giving extra ingredients to local food banks and homeless shelters.
6. Create Sustainable Packaging
Food isn't the only thing you should recycle — making packaging sustainable is also a great way to help the environment and reduce waste. Things like styrofoam and single-use plastic, which account for 30% of municipal waste, can pollute the air and harm animals. Environmentally-friendly alternatives such as cardboard boxes or recyclable paper bags are better for the earth and help improve your brand image.
7. Open Up A Dark Kitchen
A great way to reduce your food waste and your costs is to open a dark kitchen. Unlike a traditional brick-and-mortar restaurant, dark kitchens have no dine-in area — instead, they serve customers solely through online ordering. Thus, they only require a small kitchen space to operate. Different virtual brands may rent the same space, consequently sharing utilities, appliances and even ingredients. If you have ingredients that are going to expire, you can give them to another ghost kitchen rather than let them go to waste.
8. Invest in High-Quality Food Tech
Whether you run a ghost kitchen or a traditional restaurant, you probably rely on delivery services to reach a solid portion of customers. While delivery applications are a great way to expand your audience, they can be difficult to manage. Most restaurants receive different devices for each service and have to manage multiple tablets at once. Not only is this process inefficient, but it can also cause food wastage as a result of missed or mistaken orders.
Instead of juggling multiple devices, consider streamlining all orders to a single device using Cuboh. This platform revolutionizes the restaurant industry by sending every order to your restaurant SaaS system in real-time, consequently increasing your capacity for online orders. With the right restaurant technology, you can boost productivity and help save food in the process!