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Tips and Case Studies

Tips for the Catering Sector

  • Portion Sizes – Regularly check plates when they come back to understand which dishes are too heavy or too large. You may notice a lots of garnish left over or too much sauce. Making adjustments can help save money.
  • Accurate Measuring – Use scales to measure out ingredients as well as portions. Your recipe should always be the basis for your selling price. It’s not unusual for an over-service of more than 40% to occur.
  • Specials Board – A daily specials board can help to manage the extra throughput of ingredients. Perfect for great value seasonal items.
  • Your supplier and what’s in season – suppliers of your perishables will have a lot of information about seasonal produce and availability. Use them to help plan your menus and get great value on local produce
  • Accurate Ordering – Employ accurate ordering and stock rotation to avoid ingredients going out of date. If there is a booking cancellation use ingredients on specials board.
  • Get Creative – Be creative with vegetable trimmings to make tasty soups. Use toast from breakfast for breadcrumbs for fishcakes, and stale brioche for bread based puddings.
  • Use of off cuts to create tasty starters. eg, pork and chicken trimmings can be turned into pâtés and terrines. Turn excess produce into chutneys, pickles and jams.
  • Dehydrate excess fruit and vegetables to create highly flavoured powders. Dry out the fruit or vegetable in a low oven and whizz through a processor. Use the vegetable powder in sauces or and fruit powders over sorbets and ice-creams.

Wedding Hotel Case Study

As part of a Stop Food Waste/Green Hospitality Award collaboration 2 hotels decided to examine the food waste generated during wedding events. A series of surveys were conducted to get a baseline figure of waste generated per person at these functions. As part of this process a number of improvement options were identified. These were implemented and 2 months later a further series of food waste surveys were conducted, in order to gauge the extent of the improvements made. The following graphs shows the findings from the before and after series of surveys.


The main areas where improvements were made included:

  • Better potion control when serving main courses
  • Reducing waste trimming on veg and meat
  • Serving veg in large central dishes with refills on demand
  • Staff awareness raising and training on food waste

By applying these options food waste generated per person served was reduced by almost 37% in this example. This improvement occurred in just 2 months!

It is estimated that every kilo of food waste costs a hotel between €3 and €4 (based on purchase, storage, cooking, serving and disposal). Accordingly, the improvements made during this project equated to a food saving of €0.75 per guest, which equates to €15,000 for the year! With savings like this you’ll be married to Food Waste Prevention!

Restaurant Case Study

Goat StDuring a Kerry County Council LAPN project in Dingle – Corca Dhuibhne Glas – The Goat Street cafe conducted a detailed food waste assessment for a full month. During this they measured weight of all food “in” and “out”. Initially all of the staff trained on how to conduct the assessments and during the month long investigation were actively involved. As part of this process they suggested improvements that could be made in terms of food handling, serving, waste management facilities, etc. The key improvements made related to:

  • Bin positioning & size
  • Staff awareness of what is a waste & what isn’t
  • Huge focus on portion size, what’s selling & what isn’t – staff feedback direct to kitchen

After a number of months the improvements were measured in terms of kilos of waste per customer or cover. This is a number that the Sustainable Restaurant Association use to determine how restaurants are performing in terms of food efficiency. The average waste per cover according to the SRA is 0.48 kg. The Goat Street Cafe managed to reduce theirs from over 0.35kg per cover to ~0.12kg per cover after this food waste prevention project.

Bar/Restaurant Case Study

As part of a Roscommon County Council LAPN project a well known bar restaurant got involved in reducing their food waste. This busy bar restaurant pride themselves on big portions and plenty of extras. However, they realised that a lot of the food they were serving was being wasted so decided that something had to be done.

Initially a food waste assessment was conducted. This pretty much told them what they already knew – that there was a lot of plate scrapings coming back. For a week they analysed this and compared it with the number of covers. According to the Sustainable Restaurant Association the average food waste per cover is ~0.48 kg. As can be seen in the image below this is about what this restaurant was generating initially. This profile shows the total food waste per cover and also the plate scrapings per cover. The difference between the two is due to preparation wastes and unserved cooked food.


After the first few days a number of changes were made and these had an instant impact. The main changes included:

  • Giving a choice of mash or chips with steaks
  • Improved management of bread – served to people individually
  • Size of side salads reduced significantly
  • Honey & mustard dressing now the main dressing used rather than house dressing which wasn’t being consumed
  • Using smaller serving bowls for pastas and chowder
  • Encouraging waiting staff to allow patrons a few minutes to digest before asking them do they want more food

Then, after 1 month the site was re-assessed (after the green line). There is a marked difference in the waste per cover – it has dropped from ~0.4kg to ~0.1kg. In addition, the difference between the total waste and plate scrapings has decreased dramatically which indicated a large improvement in the way the kitchen was being run.