Restaurants in the UK contribute around 199,100 tonnes of food waste, which equates to roughly £682 million each year. Food is one of the biggest ongoing expenses of running a restaurant, so you need to minimise waste and get the most out of your food supplies.
The good news is, there are several simple ways to extend the lifespan of your food safely. Here are some clever ways to extend the expiry date of your products and maximise your restaurant’s food budget.
Vacuum packing is an advanced form of packing that involves placing food products in a plastic film package, removing air from inside, and sealing the package. This process extends the expiry date of products by providing a protective ‘skin’ that helps keep oxygen and bacteria away from food. Vacuum packing is especially good at prolonging the shelf life of meat and dairy products.
According to EPPM, “A vacuum-packed steak has a lifespan of around 16 days, whereas a steak stored in standard tray/lid packaging has a shelf life of just 6 days.” Vacuum packing allows food to travel safely for long distances and remain fresh and safe to eat at the time of consumption.
A vacuum packing machine is a great investment for any restaurant business, especially for those that store meat and dairy products. All restaurants should consider using a vacuum packing machine to reduce food waste, lower carbon emissions, and save money. A commercial vacuum sealer can also be used to draw air away from food and extend the shelf life of products.
Tray sealers are designed to prolong the shelf life of your food by protecting products from germs, bacteria, and other contaminants. Tray sealers are a secure packaging solution that is leak-proof and tamper-evident. They also improve product presentation and offer an attractive packaging solution for a wide variety of food products.
Freezing foods is one of the best ways to extend their shelf life. Most products can be frozen including bread, meats, and vegetables. The National Center for Home Food Preservation advises that “fruit and vegetables can be stored in a freezer for approximately 8-12 months, poultry can be stored for 6-9 months, and processed mear can be stored for 1-2 months.”
When they are packaged and stored correctly, frozen food items should maintain their flavour and nutrients. That said, the quality of food items may be reduced if you freeze food products for long periods. Store frozen food at -18 degrees or lower for the best quality and avoid overloading your restaurant freezer with products.
Restaurants typically waste huge volumes of food products because items expire or go bad before they are used. A simple way to minimise food waste is by organising your refrigerator so that older items are nearer the front, with newer items placed at the back.
That way, your kitchen staff will use the food that has the lowest expiry dates first. This is especially important when it comes to perishable items like fresh fruit and vegetables. You should also encourage your kitchen staff to check the expiry dates and try to use food items that are about to go off.
Pickling is a great way to extend the shelf life of fruit and vegetables that are about to expire. Most fruit and vegetables can be pickled. You simply place slices in a jar, add vinegar and water, and then store the jar in the refrigerator until they are ready to eat. Herbs and seasoning can also be used to add flavour to pickled vegetables.
You could add pickled vegetables to your restaurant menu or even sell them to customers. Pickled fruit and vegetables can be kept in the fridge for several months if they are packaged and stored correctly. Check out this article by kitchn for tips on how to quickly pickle any vegetable.
Restaurant managers have a legal responsibility to ensure that food is stored in line with health and safety guidelines. Adopting good packaging solutions will prolong the shelf life of your products, keep food fresh and tasty for your customers, and reduce your overhead costs.
Food waste is a huge expense for restaurants that can easily be avoided. These tips will extend the shelf life of products and ensure that food items remain fresh and useable for as long as possible.