making dough with Diane: 7 simple steps to less waste

Diane Chiasson
June 30, 2010
One of the simplest ways to save money in your pizza operation is to cut back on waste. Start thinking about real, sustainable practices you can apply to your operation that will help you not only to save money, but to reduce wasted food, water and energy. 
One of the simplest ways to save money in your pizza operation is to cut back on waste. Start thinking about real, sustainable practices you can apply to your operation that will help you not only to save money, but to reduce wasted food, water and energy. 

One of the first steps you must take in turning your restaurant into a greener operation is to get everyone on board. Your staff sees firsthand how much food, water and electricity is wasted, so they would be the first people to get ideas from. Hold a staff meeting and have everyone think of ways your restaurant can save. By allowing your staff to become part of the solution, it will also give them more of an incentive to follow through on the proposed changes.

The less you waste, the lower your costs. By keeping your costs down, you also help keep the prices down for your customers. Here are a few ideas that you can consider practicing in your establishment.

Compost your food waste
Reducing food waste is probably the biggest area to tackle. If you think about all the food you throw out, you are most likely looking at thousands of dollars a year. Some things you can do to help reduce your food waste include composting all your food scraps and selling the compost to local farmers who could use it to feed their animals. You can also look into recycling your cooking oil, which then can be sold to pig farmers.

Cut back on portion sizes
Assess how much food you are putting on each plate and see how often the plate gets finished. If you find that most of your plates are coming back with food still on them, it’s likely you’re over-portioning and can cut back on the size of the dish. Start displaying nutritional information about ideal serving sizes to get your customers on board.
Use PLA packaging
You probably already use recyclable cardboard boxes for your pizzas, but you can also encourage your customers to take home their leftovers by packing their food in corn-based (PLA) biodegradable packaging containers. Use recycled napkins, biodegradable eating utensils and have clearly marked areas for the disposal of compost, garbage and recyclable products in your restaurant.

Change your light bulbs
Restaurant operators often forget that cutbacks can also be made in the utility bills. Some simple changes you can make to cut your electricity bill include switching all your light bulbs and fluorescent lighting to energy-saving bulbs. You can also install timers or occupancy sensors in your washrooms and storage areas, so that the lights are off in rooms when no one is in them.

Rethink your appliances
Another area where you can cut back on electrical costs is your appliances. Assess your appliances and see if all of them need to be turned on at the same time. You can also check to see if the size of your appliances is suited to the needs of your restaurant. Perhaps, a smaller, more energy-efficient piece of equipment might be all that you need. McDonald’s recently replaced its fryers with ones that use 40 per cent less oil and six per cent less energy.

Clean your air conditioners
Running an air conditioner to cool your restaurant is a huge expense. Consider installing a programmable thermostat to keep the air in your operation at a steady, comfortable temperature all day. Open windows if possible. Clean the air filters in your air conditioners to keep them running at optimal efficiency.

Turn off the taps
There are several ways to save on water in a restaurant, especially in the back-of-house. By planning in advance, thaw frozen foods ahead of time in the refrigerator instead of thawing products in the sink and running the water continuously. Invest in an energy-efficient dishwasher. Check your restaurant for leaky taps and faucets. Consider installing water-efficient toilets in the washrooms.

Buy local
While purchasing produce from local farmers might cost more by the pound, the cost of transporting the goods will be lower because of the shorter distance. At the end of the day, it might cost you the same amount of money, but you will be serving food that tastes fresher!•

Diane Chiasson, FCSI, president of Chiasson Consultants Inc., has been helping foodservice, hospitality and retail operators increase sales for over 25 years. She is recognized as an industry leader in providing innovative and revenue-increasing foodservice and retail merchandising programs, interior design, branding, menu engineering, marketing and promotional campaigns, and much more. Contact her at 416-926-1338, toll-free at 1-888-926-6655 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , or visit .

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