4 ways to crack food waste at your catering business

Catering 4 min read

From Catering Managers, to General Managers and Head Chefs – here at Olio, we’re in constant contact with staff at catering and hospitality businesses across the country. That means we know first hand just how much of a challenge it can be to get a handle on food waste in a busy kitchen. 

Fortunately, through our awesome catering partners like Compass, Elior, CH&Co, Wilson Vale, Olive Dining and many more, we’ve learned a thing or two about innovative – but practical – steps that businesses in the hospitality sector can take to address this issue. 

In this blog post, we’ll share five key strategies to slash your food waste levels – helping you build a greener food business (and hospitality sector as a whole).

Here are our top Olio tips for minimising food waste at your business:

Thoughtful planning and ordering

Careful menu planning and accurate ingredient estimation are super important to avoid over-stocking and subsequent wastage. If you haven’t already, try going back through your historical sales data and customer feedback, to help you make informed decisions about what to order. By scaling back on your inventory, you can prevent food from spoiling before it gets eaten (and you’ll save money, too!).

Fostering a waste-conscious culture within your team 

Educating your staff on proper food handling techniques, product shelf life, expiry dates and portion control will make a big difference to how much food gets wasted in your kitchen. You can have the best intentions in the world as a business, but if staff aren’t onboard with your waste reduction efforts, you’re going to fail. Encourage your team to actively participate in finding ways to minimise waste, like re-using ingredients for future menus (pickling and preserving could be your friend here!).

Pickling or preserving vegetables that are nearing their best is a great way to reduce food waste

Upping your storage and labelling game

Invest in good quality storage equipment to make sure ingredients have the best chance of staying fresher for longer. Another tip is to implement clear labelling – with dates – and running a first-in, first-out (FIFO) rotation system. This is an easy way to make sure that older products get used up before newer ones, reducing the likelihood of items expiring and going to waste (or getting forgotten about at the back of the fridge).

Nailing plate management

Monitoring plate waste can provide a really handy insight into customer preferences, and help you manage food waste levels that bit better. Is lots of food coming back into the kitchen after service? Consider adjusting portion sizes so that they’re smaller. You could even encourage customers to request smaller portions, or offer the option to order half portions. 

Thinking outside the box with surplus food

We’ve spoken about ways to reduce food waste in your kitchen, but when you can’t re-use food in future menus, or turn it into something you can serve the next day, that’s when you should explore innovative ways to redistribute or donate it. 

Partner with local charities, food banks or companies like Olio, so you can have a positive impact on the community at the same time as reducing food waste. 

Olio can get your spare, uneaten food to local people in as little as 30 minutes – plus, we can even redistribute hot food that doesn’t get eaten, thanks to our brilliant network of 90,000 food-safety trained volunteers – helping you truly get to zero food waste. 

At Olio, we know our stuff when it comes to food waste! If you’d like to speak to us about how we could cut food waste in your kitchen – whether you’re an office canteen, hotel, pub or restaurant chain – fill out our super quick form here. You can also get in touch on business@olioapp.com.