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).
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.