Strategic Menu Development: Impact on Waste Reduction, Pt . 1
Control of waste is all too often a retro-fitted program in foodservices and restaurants. Rarely is waste control built in from the inception of concept choice, through menu development and into equipment selection. “There is always waste” too often leads to thinking that waste cannot be managed. Foodservice operators opt more often to focus on reactive measures rather than proactive strategies. In a business where success is measured in tenths of points, it is preposterous not to manage the one aspect of an operation that does not involve key dictated aspects such as labor, customer counts or pricing.
Not much will occur if an operation does not take “Zero Waste” seriously as a cultural value. Those operations most effective with waste management have “no waste” as part of their mission statements. Sound bold? Boldness is what creates attention, challenge and change – and success. Environmentally aware operators create detailed training materials clarifying the effects of waste on the planet, the immediate environment and the community in which they conduct business. The degree to which employees embrace such knowledge can be inspiring. They tend to see the larger picture to which they are contributing and begin to identify more opportunities for waste prevention. It is this ownership of preventative strategies that leads to new methods of waste control.
Here are four key steps to get started:
First -- Establish an internal culture that believes in and fully understands the “Whys” of championing and sustaining waste management practices.
Second: Create an appreciative environment that not only defines keys to waste management, but also acknowledges on-mission behavior.
Third: Identify Key Result Areas for waste prevention and assure they are taught and rewarded.
Finally: Reward new ideas and methodologies for waste prevention.
Child Development specialists have known for some time that eating habits established within the first year of life establish an individual’s “fat level “for the rest of his/her life. Systems develop that become virtually impossible to overcome later in life in reaction to undesired bloat. For foodservice operations, this bloat or waste is built in when menus are determined. Menus are too often designed without “inventory intelligence.” In one operation, an inventory audit was done and it was determined that over 400 ingredients were being used to create 40 menu items. This is not unusual. Once all recipes were studied and altered, a set of 275 core ingredients was established – without noticeable alteration of flavor profiles. The operator was able to save thousands of dollars per year. Various techniques applied in the development of a menu can assist in achieving purposeful waste reduction before an operation ever opens its doors. This is a key function of a menu development consultant and a key reason they need to be bought in is to prevent problems that they are too often brought in later to fix. A good consultant can
· Create menus that build into the recipe matrix secondary and even tertiary use options for ingredients;
· Utilize “platform recipe development,” wherein a few base items create the foundation for several others, such as utilizing one salad dressing as a base for not only other dressings, but also marinades, sauces and dips;
Develop proper portioning standards that prevent excessive waste coming back to the dish room;
· Build the menu around items that, by their very nature, have multiple uses, such as boneless chicken breasts (soups, salads, sandwiches, entrees); and
· Create high-perceived-value menu items whose likelihood of selling at high and frequent levels leads to waste avoidance.