Reducing waste is more than just a kitchen trend, it’s your ticket to a better profit margin.

Here are MasterFoods’ four techniques to make better use of your ingredients to create cost-effective combinations that sell.

There was a time when pork belly, lamb shanks and beef cheeks were considered by chefs as not worthy of their menus. But as diners have become more adventurous, secondary cuts and repurposing offcuts have evolved into a profitable avenue for chefs to tantalise their diners.

  1. Use it all

Reducing waste goes far beyond simply ordering the right quantities. Start by paying attention to what ends up in your bin after prep and consider how it could form part of another menu item. Entire menus have been built on this concept, so don’t be afraid to experiment and be creative. It could be as simple as making potato skins out of the leftovers for mash.

Next, evaluate the versatility of each menu item. While some ingredients are limited in their uses, others such as the humble potato or egg can be repurposed in different ways. Consider reducing food safety risks and costs with pre-prepped finishing sauces. This will minimise the number of ingredients you need to stock. It will also build flexibility into your operations, safeguarding you against wastage if certain menu items don’t move.

  • Keep a close eye on your pantry

Throwing away unused items is throwing away money. If you’re not already using an ingredient in your pantry, find a way, or get rid of it. Ingredients that sit idle on your shelves are taking up valuable real estate and will likely just end up with freezer burn. Get the most out of your pantry items before they pass their use by or best before date to minimise your losses and maximise your profits. Consider creating new flavours with what you’ve already got. For example, mix and match your sauces. Add a peri peri to an aioli to make a new mayonnaise.

  • Use your specials board

Your specials board is your holy grail to move these creative new flavour combinations. It will provide you with the flexibility to use up those ingredients fast and allow you to get your creative juices flowing. Find inspiration and play with flavours to give you the confidence to know you’re not just getting rid of items but creating exciting new options for your customer.

  • Serve the right quantities

Do chips or other items regularly come back on the plate untouched? You can reduce waste and improve your sales on other menu items by serving the right portions. Pay attention to what people can and want to eat and adjust your portion sizes accordingly. Remember, filling your customers with a heavy entrée will mean they won’t be as tempted by your desserts. Design your menu with the next course in mind and sell food with high value and high profitability, wherever possible.

For more ways to reduce waste and maximise your profits, download MasterFoods’ rogue magazine here.