150 Questions to Ask a Restaurant About Food Waste

Have you ever wondered how much food gets tossed out at your favorite restaurants? Food waste is the term for any edible items that get discarded or uneaten rather than consumed. 

It’s a big deal, not just for restaurants but for the whole planet. Want to know how the restaurants you visit are doing their part? Here’s a list of questions you can ask them to dig deeper!

Food Waste Management Practices

  1. What strategies do you have in place to minimize food waste?
  2. How often do you audit your restaurant’s food waste?
  3. Do you have a system for composting leftover food?
  4. What do you do with unserved food at the end of the day?
  5. Are there any partnerships with local farms or composting facilities?
  6. How do you manage overstocked items to prevent waste?
  7. Do you implement portion control to reduce waste?
  8. What efforts are made to utilize every part of the ingredients?
  9. Is there a plan for repurposing food scraps?
  10. How do you train staff to reduce food waste?
  11. Do you donate leftover food to charities or food banks?
  12. What measures are in place for managing spoilage?
  13. How does your menu design minimize food waste?
  14. Do you offer options for customers to take leftovers home?
  15. How do you handle customer plate waste?
  16. Are there incentives for customers to order responsibly to reduce waste?
  17. What technologies are you using to track and reduce food waste?
  18. How do you manage food waste during special events or catering?
  19. Do you follow any regulatory guidelines for food waste management?
  20. How do you ensure food safety while managing food waste?
  21. Are there any future plans to reduce food waste further?
  22. How do you balance offering variety with minimizing waste?
  23. Do you have specific waste bins for sorting waste on-site?
  24. How are waste oils and fats disposed of or recycled?
  25. What challenges have you faced in your food waste management efforts?

Sourcing and Procurement Policies

  1. How do you select your suppliers in terms of sustainability?
  2. Do you prioritize local or organic produce to reduce environmental impact?
  3. Is there a policy for sourcing seasonal ingredients to ensure freshness and minimize waste?
  4. How do you evaluate the sustainability practices of your suppliers?
  5. Do you have any requirements for suppliers regarding packaging to reduce waste?
  6. Are there strategies in place for bulk buying to minimize waste?
  7. How does your restaurant manage inventory to avoid over-purchasing?
  8. Do you engage in any direct farm-to-table procurement?
  9. How do you ensure the ethical treatment of animals by your suppliers?
  10. What standards must your seafood suppliers meet in terms of sustainability?
  11. How often do you review and update your sourcing policies?
  12. Is there a contingency plan for supplier disruptions to avoid waste?
  13. How do you monitor and manage the carbon footprint of your supply chain?
  14. Do you collaborate with suppliers on waste reduction initiatives?
  15. How is unsuitable or excess stock handled with suppliers?
  16. Do you have any certifications or memberships to verify sustainable sourcing?
  17. How do you communicate your sourcing policies to your customers?
  18. Are there efforts to diversify your suppliers for sustainability reasons?
  19. How does your purchasing policy address the issue of overfishing or endangered species?
  20. Do you use technology to streamline your procurement process for efficiency?
  21. How do you manage supplier relationships to ensure they align with your sustainability goals?
  22. What percentage of your menu is made up of sustainably sourced ingredients?
  23. Do you factor in the impact of transportation when choosing suppliers?
  24. How do you handle discrepancies in your suppliers’ sustainability practices?
  25. Do you provide feedback to suppliers on their sustainability performance and improvements needed?

Menu Design and Food Preparation

  1. How is your menu designed to minimize food waste?
  2. Do you offer portion sizes that help limit waste?
  3. How do you incorporate ingredients across multiple dishes to ensure everything is used?
  4. Are there any dishes designed specifically to use less popular parts of ingredients?
  5. How often do you update your menu to reflect seasonal ingredients and reduce waste?
  6. Do you provide options for customers with different appetite sizes to reduce leftovers?
  7. How do you balance customer preferences with the need to minimize waste?
  8. What strategies are in place for handling unexpected menu item popularity or lack thereof?
  9. How does the kitchen staff maximize ingredient usage during food preparation?
  10. Do you have special training for chefs and cooks on reducing food waste?
  11. How do you encourage creativity in the kitchen while maintaining waste reduction goals?
  12. Are there any techniques used to preserve excess fresh produce?
  13. How do you determine the right amount of menu variety to offer without increasing waste?
  14. Do you utilize technology to predict popular items and adjust food preparation accordingly?
  15. How do you handle customer modifications to dishes in a way that minimizes waste?
  16. What methods are used to ensure accurate portion sizes every time?
  17. How is kitchen equipment maintained to ensure efficient food preparation and minimize waste?
  18. Are there any systems tracking food use and waste during preparation?
  19. How do you organize the kitchen layout to optimize workflow and reduce waste?
  20. Do you employ any food repurposing ideas for leftovers from food prep?
  21. How does your menu promote the use of whole foods to minimize waste?
  22. What steps are taken to minimize waste during the dishwashing process?
  23. How do you handle food that is prepared but not served?
  24. Do you have measures for reducing cross-contamination that leads to waste?
  25. How is feedback from customers incorporated into menu design to reduce waste?

Staff Training and Awareness

  1. What training does your staff receive on minimizing food waste?
  2. How do you ensure that new hires are quickly updated on your food waste policies?
  3. Do you have any incentives for staff who develop innovative ways to reduce waste?
  4. How is the importance of reducing food waste communicated to staff members?
  5. Are there regular meetings or discussions about waste reduction strategies and outcomes?
  6. How do you encourage staff to participate actively in food waste reduction initiatives?
  7. Do you provide training on properly sorting and disposing of different types of waste?
  8. How do you involve your staff in setting food waste reduction goals?
  9. Are there any specific tools or resources given to staff to help them reduce waste?
  10. How do you measure staff compliance and engagement with food waste practices?
  11. What feedback mechanism do you have in place for staff to suggest improvements in waste management?
  12. How do staff members contribute to planning menus and portion sizes to reduce waste?
  13. Do you offer professional development opportunities focused on sustainability and waste reduction?
  14. How do front-of-house staff communicate your restaurant’s waste reduction efforts to customers?
  15. What role do kitchen staff play in tracking and reducing food waste?
  16. How do you foster a culture of sustainability among your staff?
  17. Are there specific staff members responsible for overseeing waste management practices?
  18. How do staff members participate in auditing and assessing food waste?
  19. Do you have any team-building activities focused on sustainability and waste reduction?
  20. How does staff feedback impact food procurement and menu design decisions?
  21. How are best practices in waste reduction shared among the staff?
  22. Do you use digital platforms or apps to educate or involve staff in waste reduction efforts?
  23. How do you address challenges and barriers faced by staff in implementing waste reduction measures?
  24. What measures are in place to continuously improve the effectiveness of staff training programs?
  25. How is success in waste reduction celebrated with staff?

Customer Engagement and Participation

  1. How do you inform customers about your efforts to reduce food waste?
  2. Do you offer incentives for customers who participate in waste reduction initiatives (e.g., bringing their own containers)?
  3. How can customers provide feedback or suggestions on your food waste management practices?
  4. Are there options on the menu that allow customers to choose smaller portions?
  5. How do you promote the importance of reducing food waste to your customers?
  6. Do you engage with customers on social media regarding your sustainability initiatives?
  7. Are there educational materials about food waste and sustainability available in your restaurant?
  8. How do you encourage customers to take leftovers home?
  9. What role can customers play in helping you achieve your waste reduction goals?
  10. Do you have special events or campaigns focused on sustainability and reducing food waste?
  11. How do you involve the local community in your food waste reduction efforts?
  12. Are there collaborations with other businesses or nonprofits to engage customers in food waste initiatives?
  13. How do you customize your waste reduction messages to resonate with different customer demographics?
  14. What feedback have you received from customers on your food waste reduction initiatives, and how has it shaped your strategies?
  15. Do you provide packaging options that are reusable or compostable for takeaways?
  16. How transparent are you with customers about the challenges of reducing food waste in the restaurant industry?
  17. Do you offer any educational workshops or events for customers about food sustainability?
  18. How do you make it easy for customers to participate in your sustainability programs?
  19. What measures are in place to monitor the effectiveness of customer engagement strategies?
  20. Are there ways for customers to track the impact of their contributions to your waste reduction efforts?
  21. How do you balance customer satisfaction with the need to reduce waste?
  22. Do you have a system for customers to share excess food with others?
  23. What impact has customer involvement had on your overall sustainability efforts?
  24. Do you use customer suggestions to improve your food waste management practices?
  25. How do you plan to increase customer participation in your sustainability initiatives in the future?

Waste Tracking and Reduction Goals

  1. How do you track the amount of food waste your restaurant produces?
  2. What are your short-term and long-term goals for reducing food waste?
  3. How do you measure progress toward your food waste reduction goals?
  4. Do you use specific benchmarks or indicators to assess your waste management performance?
  5. How often do you review and update your food waste reduction plan?
  6. What challenges have you faced in tracking and reducing food waste, and how have you addressed them?
  7. Who is responsible for overseeing waste tracking and the achievement of reduction goals?
  8. Do you use any software or tools to help with waste monitoring and analysis?
  9. How do you ensure accuracy and consistency in waste tracking?
  10. What has been your biggest success in terms of food waste reduction to date?
  11. How do you integrate feedback from staff and customers into your waste reduction goals?
  12. Are there any innovative techniques or technologies you’re exploring to improve waste management?
  13. How do you align your waste reduction goals with broader sustainability objectives?
  14. What role does supplier collaboration play in achieving your waste reduction targets?
  15. How do regulatory requirements influence your waste tracking and reduction strategies?
  16. How do you share your progress and achievements in waste reduction with stakeholders?
  17. What measures are in place to prevent backsliding on your waste reduction goals?
  18. How do you plan to evolve your waste management practices in response to new challenges and opportunities?
  19. Are there any partnerships with local or governmental organizations to support your waste reduction efforts?
  20. What are the most effective strategies you’ve implemented for reducing food waste?
  21. How do you involve the entire restaurant team in striving toward waste reduction goals?
  22. Do you participate in certifications or programs validating your waste reduction efforts?
  23. How do you balance economic concerns with the goal of reducing food waste?
  24. What future initiatives do you have planned to decrease food waste further?
  25. How do you inspire other businesses to take action on food waste reduction?

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is it important to reduce food waste in restaurants?

Reducing food waste in restaurants is crucial for several reasons that span environmental, economic, and social concerns.

Environmental Impact
Resource conservation: Many resources go into producing food, from water and land to energy. When food is wasted, those resources are wasted, too.
Reducing greenhouse gasses: Food that ends up in landfills decomposes and produces methane, a potent greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change.

Economic Reasons
Cost savings: Less food waste means less money thrown away. Restaurants can save significantly by reducing waste through better inventory management, portion control, and staff training.
Competitive advantage: Restaurants that take steps to reduce food waste can attract environmentally-conscious customers, giving them an edge over competitors who don’t.

Social Responsibility
Hunger alleviation: People go hungry in many parts of the world, including wealthy countries. The food wasted in restaurants could be used to feed those in need.
Raising awareness: When restaurants take steps to cut down on food waste, they also educate their customers and staff, creating a ripple effect of understanding and action.

What role do suppliers play in food waste?

Suppliers are also a part of the food waste problem and solution. Restaurants can work with suppliers to order just what they need and even to take back items that aren’t used. This helps cut down waste before it even reaches the restaurant.

Can I do anything with my own leftovers to reduce waste?

Yes. You can:

Take it home: Ask for a to-go box and enjoy it later.
Share: Consider sharing the dish with someone if the portion is large.
Plan ahead: If you know a restaurant serves large portions, maybe eat a smaller meal earlier in the day so you’re hungrier.

How do apps and technology help restaurants manage food waste?

Some apps help restaurants track how much food is wasted so they can make smarter orders in the future. Other apps let customers buy surplus food at a discount. Technology can be a great tool for restaurants and customers to tackle food waste.

Final Thoughts

The next time you’re out enjoying a meal, don’t hesitate to ask the restaurant some of these questions. Being curious could help restaurants think more about cutting down food waste, and it’s a win-win for everyone. After all, the more we know, the better we can all do our part in making the world a better place, one meal at a time!

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Robby is a multimedia editor at UpJourney with a journalism and communications background.

When she's not working, Robby transforms into an introverted art lover who indulges in her love for sports, learning new things, and sipping her favorite soda. She also enjoys unwinding with feel-good movies, books, and video games. She's also a proud pet parent to her beloved dog, Dustin.