Keep Your Profits: 4 Ways to Manage Your Food Inventory

and Minimize Food Waste

For restaurants, throwing away expired or spoiled food is like throwing away money out of your till. Every brown leaf of lettuce or rotten tomato that is wasted comes straight out of your profits. Managing your perishable food inventory is tricky – you want just enough to cover your daily needs without buying more than you can use before it must be replaced. Here are four tips to help you effectively manage your food inventory to avoid throwing away your profits.

1. Electronically Track Your Food Inventory

The key to knowing exactly how much of each item you need for your restaurant is through inventory tracking. Larger restaurants and chains use software to track every item they buy and how much they throw away to manage profitability, and so should smaller restaurants. Tracking allows you to see at a glance how much of each item you used during different weeks of the year and plan accordingly.

2. Follow the First In, First Out Rule Meticulously

Spoilage is a big problem in the restaurant industry, and a costly one. It is vital that perishable items are stocked and used with the “first in, first out” rule. New items should be stocked behind the existing items when they arrive. This may mean pulling out items to stock them correctly in tight refrigerated spaces, but it is worth the effort to minimize food waste. 

3. Portion Control for Consistency

If you have large fluctuations in how much of certain items you use, it could be due to portion control. Ensure your employees have measurable amounts for food items to create consistency in the food you serve and for inventory purposes. If one cook is using two tomato slices on each burger and others are using one, your supply will never be consistent with the amount of food you are selling.

4. Beware of Niche Items

Having unique items on your menu can differentiate your restaurant, but make sure those dishes with niche ingredients are profitable. If you only have one dish on your menu that requires a specific perishable item, monitor it closely. When you notice you are throwing that item away too often, you may want to consider reducing how much you buy, removing that dish from your menu or only serving it as a special.

Spending money on items you do not use directly impacts your bottom line. This is true of your restaurant’s food inventory and it is also true with business insurance. Make sure you have the right-sized insurance policy for your business. Contact us at The Clausen Agency, Inc. for a free coverage evaluation.