Reducing food waste in a professional kitchen is an ongoing battle. Some solutions are easier to see and implement than others. There are quick fixes that can show an immediate reduction in the amount of food waste, like smaller portions, small batch cooking, cooking to order. Some solutions take time to implement and results come slower, but the outcomes are long-term and impactful. Smart “menuing,” proper forecasting, strong inventory and purchasing practices will make the most impact in the long run. One of the biggest waste culprits in the kitchen is one that often goes unchanged and that is the practice of overbuying.
Be it purposely or by mistake, food is often over-bought and without strong practices in place to utilize all purchased food, the products most likely end up in the compost or trash bin. Simply put, overbuying is when too much food was purchased that could be utilized before it either spoiled, went beyond the serve by date, or the quality deteriorated. Some might think that all chefs have a handle on purchasing food for their kitchens, but the truth is, not every chef has the experience, know how, or financial acumen to be able to make smart purchasing decisions. Combine that possible lack of skills with the absolute fear of running out of a certain product and you have a recipe for food waste.
So what can chefs do to curb the practice of overbuying?
Here are some solutions: