Hints and Tips: Salad Bar Waste
Salad Bar: A thorny issue
When starting a tracking/prevention program, it’s often the salad bar items them can be targeted early for an easy win. Why? Many cafe operations deem the salad bar easy to do, you set it up, keep it full and then throw it away. It’s often not till we start tracking these items that operators realize how much waste comes off the salad bar daily, making it a good target for reduction. If operators review food waste tracking data for the salad bar, they often see a recurring pattern: lots of discarded lettuce as well as the “sneaky waste” in sides that can add up quickly. With a few changes, you can keep the salad bar looking bountiful and this is a great opportunity for waste prevention.
- Review restock policy: How do you re-stock the salad bar throughout service? Often we start will full pans of lettuce and keep them topped off until the end. Instead of continually keeping full six inch deep pans of lettuce throughout the service, start off big and then rotate to smaller pans as service winds down. You can then keep the salad bar looking full, but by the end you’re down to a four inch or smaller pans of lettuce, less waste.
- Take a look at the sides: Pay close attention to the sides and what is thrown away. Key in on the less popular items and remove them from the salad bar or move them to smaller vessels. As with lettuce, the most popular items can be re-stocked into smaller containers as service winds down.
- Look at the space: Salad bars can take up a lot of real estate, does your volumes necessitate such space? Based on your sales, you maybe able to shrink down the salad bar and use decorative covers to make areas to display items such as breads, desserts or other impulse items. You could be creating daily waste by putting out less popular or unnecessary items to just fill the void.
- Target service periods: If you run a dinner or late shift service some customers have had success by offering a selection of pre-made salads instead of a full salad bar. Cuts down on waste and depending on timing and food safety any un-used salads maybe able to be rotated into the next days grab-n-go selections for lunch. Just make sure your grab-n-go team takes inventory prior to building that days lunch selections!
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