Waste Not, Want Not
Save money by using a waste log to record what culinary products needlessly get trashed.
If you’re not getting the most use of all your ingredients, you might as well throw money into the trash along with those “scraps.” How do you know? Keep a waste log.
A waste log is a simple spreadsheet or logbook to keep a daily record of where you’re discarding food. That could be spoiled produce; extra sauce on a dish; frozen chicken forgotten in the back of the walk in. Mark that all down to knowing where you’re losing money.
“The waste log makes you focus on what you’re putting into a garbage bag or landfill,” says Sieger Bayer, chef de cuisine of Chicago’s Publican. “It’s a good way to guilt cooks to think of everything in this restaurant as a dollar bill. I say they’re throwing my money away.”
A waste log can be used to teach young cooks about the business of running a kitchen, according to Sheila Lucero, executive chef of Jax Fish House in Kansas City, Mo. She teaches cooks to use scrap for stock. Or to scrape the last bit of ketchup out of a container. “It’s only 10 cents at a time, but if you cost it out over a year, that adds up,” she explains. “When you do the math and show it to them, the look on their face is amazing.”
Taking photos adds to the impact when teams can literally see how the losses add up.
“When they write it out [on the waste log] that’s one thing,” says Gregg Rozeboom, CEO of Washington, D.C.-based Fruitive.
“Taking a picture forces them to face reality. It’s so easy now with cell phones to take pictures and attach it to a report. When you’re looking at numbers like a cup of spinach that doesn’t have the same impact as when there’s a picture attached.”