4 Tips For Improving The Efficiency Of Cafeterias And Food Courts

Posted on: 15 August 2016

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Cafeterias and food courts often have long hours with many meals served. So when you are considering improvements for corporate kitchen efficiency, you should determine ways your dining establishment can be more efficient to save time, money, and products.

Limit Wasted Food

One of the major ways your establishment can improve efficiency is to minimize food waste. This will ensure money dedicated to dining options, utility costs, and time is not unnecessarily spent on items that are unpopular with the people you serve. Take time to evaluate your current menu options and speak with food service personnel to determine which items are frequently left behind at the end of the day. You may also want to conduct a survey and ask people which options they want readily available.

Once you have a general idea of popular foods, you can begin establishing a menu to minimize food waste. You should also consider which options are available in your area for food donations. Depending on the regulations in your area, you may be able to donate prepared food at the end of each day to homeless shelters or other agencies that provide hot meals to those in need.

Scale-Back On Hours And Offerings

There are likely many hours during the day when few, if any, people stop by for food. This means your dining establishment is wasting valuable time and effort. Consider scaling back your dining hours to a few hours at each meal. Between times, you may have a food service employee handling the cash register for simple, premade items, such as salads, sandwiches, and snacks. Scaling back on dining hours also provides your dining staff with sufficient time to prepare for the next food service.

When you establish a menu, you should also consider how much of each type of food to make and stick to your plan. It is a poor use of time to have food service personnel cooking extra portions of food as it nears time to clean up and prepare for the next meal. When people who visit your dining establishment know the quantity of food is limited, they may be encouraged to stop by earlier during your operation hours because there is a sense of urgency.

Use More Single-Serve Items

Many dining facilities prefer to purchase and prepare items in bulk because it is seemingly less expensive and more efficient to prepare than utilizing single-serve foods. But you should consider if single-serve items would better meet the needs of your dining facility, even if the upfront cost is a little higher. For example, single-serve coffee or tea pods will be more expensive per serving than brewing an entire pot of coffee, but unfortunately, the frequent need to brew fresh coffee because it can become bitter while remaining on the heating element can negate the lower cost. Single-serve options also allow your dining facility to have any number of beverages readily available within seconds and less overall waste.

Try Eco-Friendly Dinnerware

Traditional silverware and dinnerware is popular in dining establishments because it reduces trash and the items can be used multiple times. Depending on the number of meals served each day, the dishwasher may need to run all day to keep up with your establishment's needs. The amount of water used to keep a continuous supply of clean dishes combined with the energy required to heat water and sanitize dishes can quickly add up. Unfortunately, dishes are not always adequately cleaned the first time and must be washed again.

You may want to consider using eco-friendly dinnerware as part of your efficiency strategy. The easiest eco-friendly products to integrate are plates, cups, and bowls. Unlike foam or paper products with a slick coating, they are designed to be recyclable and are biodegradable when thrown away. Instead of silverware or plasticware, there are compostable options. Since it may be expensive to exclusively use these products at your dining facility, you may want to use eco-friendly products once the original batch of clean dishes is finished or between major meals to avoid running the dishwasher frequently. To ensure you are making the right investment, you will need to know if there are proper disposal methods in your area. Some products are only compostable in commercial compost facilities.

Increasing efficiency in food courts and cafeterias requires a coordinated effort aimed at saving money, energy efficiency, and being less wasteful overall. Even small changes can eventually make a significant difference at your facility.