Sustainability within the restaurant business has always been a struggle to balance responsible practices and customer demands, but with ghost kitchens on the rise it's becoming easier to focus efforts on a better future. It can be easy to let the environmental impact of your kitchen fall off the radar during your time spent managing and expanding the business.
As society shifts the collective focus to sustainable practices, even large corporations such as McDonalds and Starbucks have had to invest in more eco-friendly materials. We know most ghost kitchens don't have the resources these giants do, so here are six tips to use to make your ghost kitchen a true pioneer in sustainable food.
1. Sustainable Equipment and Maintenance
The need for temperature control and insane amounts of power in order for your kitchen equipment to run properly is a major concern for the environment. Every bit of electricity used has an amount of pollution attached to it, making energy-efficient tools an easy win when it comes to being a sustainable ghost kitchen. While energy-efficient products can have a higher cost to start, the savings are returned over time as well as lowering the carbon footprint of your kitchen. Don't forget to turn the lights and non-essential equipment off if you're the last one out at the end of the night!
From there, you should look at the cleaners used within the kitchen. A majority of them contain toxic chemicals that while great for sanitizing, can have a horrible impact on the environment. Adjusting your cleaning supplies and lowering power usage is a great starting point.
2. Adjust Your Menu Each Season
Choosing menu items that are always popular and in demand is obviously the best way to keep orders consistent, but just like many of the practices that put profits before sustainability, it doesn't work well in the long run. See what foods are in season and what meals you can create from that list. Not only will this provide your customers with new food and showcases of your ghost kitchen's skills, but you'll find out that you can often get great prices on food when purchased in season.
3. Cut Out Paper Products
Let's face it, paper is more or less viewed as a waste product in general thanks to the transition of every analog interface becoming a digital screen. Even receipts have become obsolete with options available to send receipts via text message or email at almost every digital POS system. If you're taking out ad space in a local magazine or travel guide, you can transition to fully digital marketing such as email campaigns, Google ads or even just spending time increasing your social media following that way you pop up first when someone searches "ghost kitchen near me".
The other side of disposable products is what you provide to your customers. Styrofoam and plastic containers are a cornerstone of takeout cuisine, but no longer have a home in the modern kitchen. When a customer is deciding "What's the best ghost kitchen near me?" they have already decided to look into the practices of each one. By showing you are an eco-friendly and sustainable food provider, you can garner meaningful customers that look forward to reusable or recyclable containers although not every compostable container is made equally.
4. Buy Local, Stay Local
A large portion of the cost for ingredients is the shipping and processing it takes to safely transport each item across the country. As mentioned earlier, local food is often cheaper when purchased during the harvest season as the delivery cost is typically just picking it up within a couple of hours of your location. Shopping local also shows customers you truly care about your community, something that goes a long way in the world of restaurant referrals.
5. Get the Most Out of Each Purchase
Don't let the excitement of local produce and meats get ahead of you. Properly dating and storing your perishables is key to decreasing food waste and cost which benefits you and the environment. Make sure there are no discolorations or foul odors coming from your ingredients, even if you think they should still be good.
6. You Wouldn't Water Down Your Food, So Don't Water Down Your Kitchen
Saving money is the goal of any ghost kitchen, but one of the costs easily forgotten about is the portion of utility expenses that go towards water supply. Efficiency is the key here. Make sure you are only running dishwashers when they are full which saves water and extends the life of your equipment. Take the time to check for leaky pipes or spouts as these can waste thousands of gallons of water each year without you even knowing. Take advantage of each of these tips to see a drastic change in your kitchen's impact on the environment.