How To Keep Your Restaurant’s Food As Fresh As Possible

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Most diners expect fresh food when they go to a restaurant. Not only does fresh food taste better, it’s healthier – it isn’t loaded with preservatives, nor is it frozen to the point of losing all nutritional value.

Most restaurants struggle with serving fresh food because it doesn’t seem financially sensible. Unless you’ve got a steady stream of customers, food will go off before it gets a chance to be sold leading to huge losses in wastage. However, with the right strategy applied, serving fresh food can be profitable. Here are just a few tips for keeping food as fresh as possible.

Refrigerate, don’t freeze

There are some foods that need to be frozen such as ice cream and foods that often always come pre-frozen such as seafood, but other than these necessary foods you should make a conscious decision to only refrigerate foods. Freezing has a noticeable impact on a food’s flavour – especially when it comes to vegetables and meats. It may make food last longer, but what’s the point if that food has lost all taste?

The best commercial refrigerators are able to keep food crisp and cool for several days. You’re best reading reviews online – in many cases, you may have to invest in something a little pricier so that you know temperature will be well regulated.   

Consider where you source your food

Where you source your food from can also have an impact on the freshness. The distance that food has to travel can make a big impact on its freshness – for the freshest food, you’re often best off supporting local farmers and producers. Visit local markets and create close relationships with local farmers and producers who can then supply you with a steady stream of fresh ingredients. Buying local ingredients isn’t always more expensive – in fact, you can sometimes save money by cutting out the middleman.

Of course, not all foods can be sourced locally. In these cases, you should look for an organic vegetable supplier or a fresh meat supplier that you can rely on to only supply fresh foods. There are many companies out there that specialise in these services, rejecting foods that are processed or frozen before transported. Some suppliers may stock a mixture of processed and organic foods – be wary with these suppliers as not everything they sell you will be fresh (phrases like ‘organic traces’ can often be used deceivingly).

Improve Restaurant Environment

Enhance the freshness of food in a restaurant environment by optimizing temperature control. Investing in high-quality refrigeration units and ensuring they are regularly maintained is crucial. Furthermore, installing an automated climate control system can help regulate the temperature more efficiently, keeping perishable items fresh for more extended periods. 

While the upfront cost of high-quality kitchen equipment can be high, the long-term benefits often justify the investment. Additionally, consulting with culinary professionals and equipment suppliers can provide insights into the best products tailored to your restaurant’s operations.

Adding commercial kitchen benches to your restaurant can offer several benefits, enhancing both functionality and workflow efficiency. These benches provide ample workspace, allowing chefs and kitchen staff to prepare multiple dishes simultaneously. This can speed up service, especially during peak hours.

Utilizing auto window blinds can also play a significant role in maintaining optimal temperatures by blocking out excess sunlight and heat during peak hours, preventing unnecessary fluctuations that could compromise food quality.

Poper ventilation is paramount in preserving food freshness. Installing ventilation systems that circulate fresh air while expelling stale air and odors can prevent the buildup of moisture and bacteria, thereby extending the shelf life of ingredients. Moreover, strategically placing exhaust fans near cooking areas can remove excess heat and humidity, creating a more comfortable environment for both patrons and perishable goods. By integrating sensors or timers with the ventilation system, airflow can be adjusted automatically based on occupancy levels and cooking style and activity, ensuring consistent air quality throughout the restaurant.

Lastly, maintaining cleanliness and hygiene standards is essential for preserving food freshness. Implementing strict cleaning protocols for kitchen equipment, storage areas, and dining spaces can prevent cross-contamination and bacterial growth. 

Additionally, incorporating UV-C sanitation technology in food storage areas and preparation surfaces can help eliminate harmful pathogens, further safeguarding food quality. Regularly inspecting and replacing air filters in ventilation systems can also prevent the accumulation of dust and debris, ensuring optimal air quality.

Tighten up your stock control

In order to cut down on fresh food wastage, you need to build a clear idea of how many customers you’re likely to get each day and what they’re likely to order. This means tightening up your stock control. There are analytic stock keeping software tools that can help to pinpoint trends and give you accurate figures on how much ingredients to order in based on previous performances. Such software may not be able to take into account anomalies such as local events and large bookings that may bring in extra customers, so you need to be aware if this yourself.

If you’re about to launch a restaurant, you may not be able to predict these figures although you may still be able to do some research into the area to get an idea of the type of business other nearby restaurants are getting.

Working with fresh foods does require a lot more logistics work and you’ll likely be ordering in small amounts of new ingredients every day rather ordering huge amounts in bulk. Some restaurants hire staff members simply to take care of logistics and the day-to-day financial side to running a restaurant.

Reconsider your menu

The less ingredients you need to stock, the less chance that these ingredients will expire before being eaten. Try to create a menu of dishes that people are going to regularly order so that all your ingredients are getting used. Promote dishes with ingredients that are about to expire in order to make use of these ingredients. In some cases, you may have to get creative and whip up new recipes that make use of the ingredients, promoted as a daily special. ‘Soup of the day’ is one of the most common ways in which restaurants use up these ingredients. You may also be able to create pies, curries and stews out of these leftovers. By considering a more flexible menu that changes from day to day, you’ll get through most of your fresh produce with little wastage.

Technology can significantly enhance inventory management in restaurants, reducing waste and optimizing ingredient usage. Inventory management systems track stock levels and expiration dates in real-time, prompting menu adjustments to use ingredients before they expire. With Point of Sale (POS) system integration, inventory records are updated automatically as dishes are ordered. Predictive analytics forecast future demand, aiding in precise purchasing decisions. Digital menu boards facilitate real-time menu changes, promoting dishes that use soon-to-expire ingredients.

Conclusion

Keeping restaurant food fresh is crucial for enhancing food quality, ensuring safety, and boosting customer satisfaction. Fresh ingredients attract health-conscious customers, provide a competitive edge, and support positive online reviews. Efficient stock management reduces waste and costs, contributing to economic and environmental benefits. Overall, freshness is fundamental to a successful restaurant, impacting reputation and operational efficiency.

About the author

Martin

Martin was born in England but now lives in Perth, Western Australia. He has a passion for breakfast, coffee, hot curries & fast food, and is a cat & Dalek person.

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