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Reduce food waste at your business

A photo shows a chef cutting a potato. A logo with purple text reads Food Waste Stops With Me and then lists the web address
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Reducing the amount of edible food that gets tossed is not only the best thing your restaurant can do for the environment – it’s also a great way to reduce your food and labor costs.

How to spot and stop food waste

We know you’re already running an efficient kitchen, but food waste can often be hard to spot, especially in the rush of prep, serving and clean up. Our green business advisors can help you conduct a waste assessment to understand the quantities and types of food ending up in your garbage.

When you see what gets tossed – from both back of house and front – you may see opportunities to make small changes to food prep, serving portions, or garnishes. These small changes can add up to big savings, on prep time as well as food costs.

You know your operations best, so from there we can work together to come up with effective ways to reduce wasted food and support you in your efforts.

Reduce plate waste

This short video shows three tips to reduce plate waste:

Track your food waste

Watch this 1-minute video on how and why to track your food waste.

Then check out this how-to guide and template tracking sheet:

Identify food waste

Watch this 1-minute video on how to do a waste audit. Or borrow our DIY waste-sort kit: contact us.

Helpful checklists

More ways to reduce food waste and green your restaurant

Find best practices and videos from the National Restaurant Association’s ConServe program.

Find resource guides for groceryrestaurants, and large commercial kitchens from the state of Oregon’s Wasted Food, Wasted Money site.

Hotel kitchens and catering

Hotel Kitchen provides a toolkit for organizing hotel management and staff to plan food waste reduction. They also offer webinars and case studies.

Donate food

If you’ve got extra edible food, don’t toss it, donate it to families or individuals in need. Your donation is protected by Good Samaritan laws and is tax-deductible. 

Contact us for donation assistance, or reach out to one of these local food rescue agencies:

Free, hands-on assistance

City staff can provide hands-on assistance and learn about your business to get you just the information you need. 

Contact us

Get ideas from your peers

Every kitchen is unique but seeing what works for other businesses can spark ideas for what could work at yours.

Hear from local chefs Carlo Lamagna, Lisa Schroeder, and Craig Haynes about why they’re passionate about not letting food go to waste – and how they run their kitchens to assure it doesn’t:

See how Embassy Suites found ways to reduce food waste by as much as 50 percent:

Watch more videos showing how restaurants around the Portland region are reducing food waste.

World Foods

Three images are shown next to the logo for World Foods: A table covered in appetizers, including hummus and olives; a chef behind the deli counter chopping greens; and a latte in a bright red cup with a swirl of caramel on top.

World Foods carries foods from around the globe, as well as food made from scratch in their Portland stores. They believe it’s part of their responsibility as grocers to make sure food makes it to people rather than going to waste. Here are a few examples of how they’re putting that belief into practice: 

  • When groceries and perishable items are nearing their best-by-date, they’re offered to the local nonprofit Urban Gleaners or to staff to take home. 
  • Larger portions of groceries or ready-to-eat foods are offered to Oregon Food Bank, Rafael House, or other local food banks and shelters.  
  • Produce, meat, and dairy items from the grocery store are also used as ingredients to create delicious food in the deli section. 

Mediterranean Exploration Company & Shalom Y’all

Three images side-by-side: an iced drink, a plate of food, and a person with an apron

Our staff’s creativity in reducing waste through cross utilization can be seen throughout our restaurants, including using citrus peels and juiced rinds as a syrup base for cocktails and agua fresca.

Staff pay attention to what goes in the compost and look for ways to use scraps before they get tossed. For example, we were producing over 150 pounds a week of lamb caps, a by-product of lamb chop ribs. We started collecting the lamb caps from three of our locations, cooking them down with shawarma spices, and turning the meat into a new carnitas dish. We also rendered the fat and it added it to our kebabs to keep them juicy.

We now have virtually no waste from the lamb chop caps and we’ve turned a loss into a profit!

Hopworks Urban Brewery

Three images side by side: a person writing on a piece of paper, a food scale, and a person smiling

Our kitchen has always been very conscientious of food waste but we still felt that too many food scraps were making it into the compost. We pay close attention to food waste and track it where possible so we can be smart about purchasing.

  • We track traditionally slow volume days (certain holidays and times of year) and adjust PAR levels during those times.
  • We use a waste sheet log to track all food that gets tossed (spoilage, over production, trim, etc.).
  • We’ve reduced the number of items on our menu that need to be pre-prepped.
  • We’ve increased our ability to cross-utilize ingredients.

We’ve reduced our food waste and substantially reduced our food cost percentages since implementing these efforts.


Three images side by side: a person weighing dough, a person putting toppings on a pizza, and a person smiling in front of a storefront

Even though we consistently meet our food cost percentages and we have a strong environmental ethic, we still find preventable food scraps making their way into the compost.

  • We’ve built our menus to have lots of cross utilization.
  • We ask purveyors to provide our food pre-prepped when possible in the amounts we actually use, and at the quality needed to reduce loss.
  • We scrape pans, empty containers, and fully use everything.
  • We use a waste log sheet to track overdone pizza, spoilage, and other food waste. We also give credit to managers who carefully track waste, which in turn improves their bonuses.
  • We post recommended servings for many of our menu items that can be comfortably shared.
  • We solicit ideas from customers about products we carry and portion sizes.

Reducing food waste not only helps our bottom line but also helps us to connect with our customers.

Read more about Pizzacato’s efforts.

¿Por Qué No? Taqueria

Three images side by side: a dog sitting on a stool outside, tamales being prepared in bulk, and a menu chalkboard

Because we make everything from scratch, we often have meat, fish, and veggie trim. Guest waste is a large portion of food scraps wasted, especially tortillas.

  • We invested in extra freezer space to save trim and overstock to be repurposed later into soup, stock, or sauces.
  • In some cases, we switched to more expensive cuts of meat that need 25% less trimming before cooking.
  • We started using visual guides to help staff properly size our fresh tortillas. Right sizing the tortillas has helped to reduced front-of-house waste.

We’ve saved on food and labor costs, and reduced food going into the compost from both the kitchen and from the guests.

Read more about ¿Por Qué No? Taqueria’s efforts.

Ringside Steakhouse

Three images of people side by side

Being a high-quality cooked-from-scratch kitchen, we break down our own meat, which produces lots of trim waste.

Instead of tossing the trim in the compost, we use everything we can. Bones are cooked into a rich stock and we render our own tallow.

Turning trim into ingredients not only reduced what is tossed out, but has become key to making the delicious au jus used on our steaks.

Grand Central Bakery

Three images side by side: a person weighing food, a person picking up bread, a compost bucket

Our cafés have always been very conscientious of food waste but we still find preventable food scraps making it into the compost.

  • We compost everything at the dish pit, so we notice what people leave on their plates.
  • We noticed our breakfast garnish (a piece of fruit or two, depending on the season), was mostly being left uneaten and so we decided to eliminate it.
  • We require café managers to report food cost numbers to their managers and co-workers each month. If their goals are not met, they have to conduct additional tracking and staff re-training.

The feedback loop of tracking and reporting wasted food shines a light on the opportunities to reduce food waste and run our cafés better.

Read more about Grand Central Bakery’s efforts.

Spin Laundry Lounge

Three images side by side: A waiter serving food, coffee with a pastry, a person holding a mug

We noticed our compost bins were filling up faster than usual, so we started tracking what was going into the compost. We used a spreadsheet that tracks the types and cost of items getting composted.

Through this tracking, we saw that a lot of pastries got composted at the end of each day. So we:

  • Switched to a vendor that didn’t require minimum orders for delivery.
  • Tracked which pastries were selling and which weren’t and adjusted orders.
  • Considered which pastries had longer shelf lives.

After just one month, we had reduced pastry waste by 55%!

Urban Farmer and Departure Lounge

Three images side by side: a person lighting a candle, a person making candles, finished candle jars

We recognize that all waste is an opportunity to be turned into a resource for the restaurant, and we give staff the flexibility to test ideas out and be innovative.

  • We turn vegetable trim into fermented products, like house-made kimchi and pickles.
  • We render our beef tallow and use it to make candles (reducing our use of Sterno-fluid).

Giving our staff the license to experiment supports our no-waste culture.

Fire on the Mountain

Three images side by side: a dining table with food, a chef holding a pizza, a plate of food

Two of our biggest opportunities to reduce wasted food are improving ordering accuracy and not cooking more wings than we sell.

We’ve put feedback loops in place where we can track ordering mistakes and overcooking so we can catch opportunities for staff to adjust. Tracking and sharing that information with staff is very effective at keeping food waste prevention fresh in their mind.

Tracking and sharing that information with staff has reduced both food waste and food costs.

Read more about Fire on the Mountain’s efforts.

Food Waste Stops with Me is a collaboration between Metro, Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association, Oregon's Department of Environmental Quality, as well as city and county governments, to support foodservice businesses in reducing food waste.