Portioning and plate waste

Accurate portion control is a key part of reducing waste and increasing profitability. Not everyone eats the same amount so you could consider offering different portion sizes on your menu so your customers can choose how much they want to eat. See Love Food Hate Waste video and Greene King case study.

Top tips

  • Using standard spoons and measures can help to ensure that portion sizes don’t creep up.
  • Different portion sizes could be offered for toddlers, children and light bites could be offered to adults with smaller appetites.
  • Serving an average portion of vegetables or side dishes and offering a top up if the customer wants more can help to reduce plate waste.
  • Staff can help customers to order the right amount and monitor plate waste which will help you identify opportunities for savings.
  • Consider offering doggy bags.

Hygiene advice for doggy bags / boxes

  • If you want to store the food, as a general rule (for foods other than rice) chill the food quickly, ideally within 2 hours as chilling food properly helps to stop the growth of harmful bacteria and consume the food within 2 days.
  • If you reheat the food, you should do so until it is ‘steaming hot’ throughout , reaching a core temperature of 70˚C for 2 minutes or equivalent.
  • Only reheat leftovers once.
  • It is advised that rice should not be kept or reheated

Ashley Maskel, owner of Six Bells, a pub in Hertfordshire, saved £1,040 each year just by changing the salad garnish served to diners. The pub carried out a food waste review and noticed that a lot of salad was being left on diners’ plates. The chef decided to use a curlier salad leaf that created the same volume on a plate, but used fewer leaves. This resulted in less waste being generated, reduced waste disposal costs and a lower vegetable bill.
(Case study from Unilever Food Solutions)

Greene King has almost 2,500 pubs, restaurants and hotels and is committed to conducting business in an ethical and responsible manner. Portion size is one of the issues people talk about when asked about the food they waste when eating out. Offering different meal sizes can make a real difference to the amount of food left on plates and Greene King has taken this on board by providing menu options for more mature guests and two meal-size options for children.

Golden Years Menu – exclusively for more mature guests, specifically tailored to satisfy lighter appetites.
Juniors’ Menu – suitable for children under 7 years.
Children’s Menu – suitable for children between 7 and 10 years.

Portion Checklist

  • Keep  portion sizes consistent – use standard spoons and measures.
  • Offer the same item in different portion sizes to suit customers' appetite.
  • Offer average portions of vegetables, with top ups if needed.
  • Present food creatively cutting the quantity served.
  • Offer to leave out any of the ingredients where possible e.g. no salad, salad without onions, etc.
  • Introduce ‘doggy bags’ for leftovers.
  • Monitor plate waste. 

Engage your customers to help reduce plate waste

Love Food Hate Waste’s Hospitality Resource Pack includes messages you can display to customers on portions and choice sizes