As Leanpath's full time Executive Chef, I've trained and coached hundreds of chefs and managers on preventing food waste in their operations. One of the most persistent issues is also one of the most avoidable: food waste from items expiring in storage. Avoiding this waste takes establishing and following strict processes to ensure everything in storage is used before it can expire. Here are three questions to ask yourself or your team to find out how effective your kitchen is at avoiding expired food waste.
#1: What is your process for utilizing open and dated items?
Answer you want to hear: We have processes in place that help us utilize all opened product within three days.
Chefs should know that it all starts with ordering the right pack size and then pulling out only what is called for in the production sheets, and only prepping what the production sheets call for. Anything that’s left over is properly stored and quickly repurposed.
#2: Is there a “to use” cart or shelf in the cooler?
Answer you want to hear: Any and all product that does not get prepped or utilized during the day gets properly wrapped, labeled and dated and then placed on the “to use” shelf in the cooler.
This is the area all chefs go to first before opening a new pack or container. You should keep a running list of all “to use” items on a clipboard outside the cooler. All product that did not get prepped or utilized during the day should get wrapped, properly labeled, and placed on the “to use” shelf in the cooler.
#3: Do you designate one cook to be in charge of the “to use” area of the cooler?
Answer you want to hear: Our lead line cook has been designated as the go-to guy for all opened product.
It’s this person’s responsibility to make sure that everything is wrapped and stored and to make sure that any food that is nearing expiration is used or, if possible, frozen to make sure that it does not become waste.