Here, Mike Hardman from the catering supplies wholesaler Alliance Online explains how you can reduce waste in your care home kitchen. This will help to limit the impact your work is having on the environment and could save you money, too.
Each year, approximately one third of the world’s food produced for human consumption is wasted, according to research from the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations. When you consider the fact that, in the UK alone, 8.4 million people struggle to afford regular meals, this is incredibly shocking. Plus, the impact of all this food waste on the environment means it’s unsustainable.
We all need to be looking at ways in which we can reduce the amount of food waste we create. And, as the hospitality and food service industries are responsible for throwing away 920,000 tonnes of food annually (WRAP) — three quarters of which is still perfectly edible — it’s vital that care homes commit to making changes. To help you out, I’m going to outline three simple ways that you can drastically reduce the amount of food waste that is created in your care home kitchen. Read on to learn more.
Create an accurate inventory and keep it updated
It’s important that you keep an accurate and up-to-date inventory of the food that’s coming into and leaving your kitchen. This is because it will help to give you a much better idea of what stock you have plenty of, and what needs replenishing. As a result, when you put an order in for more supplies, you’ll know exactly what you need to buy, and won’t end up with more food than you’ll be able to use up before it goes off.
You should start by making a note of all of the ingredients you already have in your care home kitchen, along with all of the use-by-dates — this is especially important, as it will give you an idea of which items need to be used up the quickest. You can then plan your residents’ meals accordingly. Then, whenever you run out of something or a new batch of supplies is delivered, you should update your itinerary in line with this.
Think carefully about your residents’ portion sizes
Any food that’s left on your residents’ plates after mealtimes will have to go straight in the bin. If you find that you’re throwing away a lot of food after it’s been serves, it might be time to look at the portion sizes you’re offering.
Making a simple change such as offering two different portion sizes could dramatically reduce how much food is being left on plates. This will allow your diners to choose a larger or smaller meal depending on their appetite on a particular day.
Donate any extra food that won’t get used
If you often have edible leftovers, why not look at donating them to a worthy cause? There are plenty of organisations out there who will be grateful to receive any food that would otherwise go to waste, and they’ll be able to use this to help those in need.
The Trussell Trust, for example, has a 400-strong network of food banks, which all provide a minimum of three days’ worth of emergency food and support to people in crisis. As 13 million people live below the poverty line in the UK, they’re always in need of more supplies so, if you have a surplus of non-perishables that are still in date, they’ll happily take them off your hands.
Food Cycle is another great organisation that’s helping vulnerable people by providing them with cooked meals when they need them most. Donating food to any charities that need it will go a long way to reducing your kitchen waste and is an incredibly valuable way for you to give back to your local community.
If you’re looking to reduce the amount of food waste created by your care home kitchen, taking these tips on board is a great place to start. They’ll help you to limit the negative impact your work is having on the environment, save you money in the long run, and offer a great way for you to help charities that will be grateful for your support.