Are you Wasted?

This won’t be the first time I rant about food waste. And it won’t be the last, especially when I work in an industry that contributes so much to this tragedy. America wastes roughly 40 percent of its food.  Of the estimated 125 to 160 billion pounds of food that goes to waste every year, much of it is perfectly edible and nutritious. Food is lost or wasted for a variety of reasons: bad weather, processing problems, overproduction and unstable markets cause food loss long before it arrives in a grocery store, while overbuying, poor planning and confusion over labels and safety contribute to food waste at stores and in homes. Food waste also has a staggering price tag, costing this country approximately $218 billion per year. Uneaten food also puts unneeded strain on the environment by wasting valuable resources like water and farmland. At a time when 12 percent of American households are food insecure , reducing food waste by just 15 percent could provide enough sustenance to feed more than 25 million people, annually. Restaurants, hotels and associated foodservice operations are a big part of this problem. The question is, why? And at what cost to the operation. Being a conscience restaurant owner means you are concerned about our planet and people, but also about the bottom line.


I’ve included loss, because often we may not even know where the food went. The first thought is often theft, if we don’t have any kind of food tracking system in place. Although theft is rampant in our industry, it’s not always the reason. Often it’s just food unaccounted for, hence this little list to help you figure it out.

  • Physical inventory system; if you don’t have this in place, you have no idea what’s going on. Period!
  • Excessive trim on meats, vegetables; Remember TPU, total product utilization? Start doing it.
  • Errors in customer orders; staff need to be well trained in menu knowledge, order procedures.
  • Waste tracking forms; I’ll give you one at the end….everything thrown out needs to be accounted for.
  • Recipes, production and station prep lists; Absolute must for consistency and quantity control.
  • Cross utilization of food products and trim
  • Standardized portioning; especially with protein and other more expensive foods
  • Carelessness; spillage, waste and improperly cooked orders
  • Open food abuse; unrecorded sales or unauthorized comps
  • Employee meal tracking and recording
  • Not using features and specials to move underutilized products
  • Theft; this is really a list of it’s own, there are a thousand ways to rip off a restaurant!

If you would like a broader, global perspective on food waste through the whole food chain, check out this article;

And here is your FREE food wastage tracking form, hundreds more like this for paid subscribers!

Cheers, and have a wonderful day! Lest we forget, cherish your freedom!