Turn Your Restaurant Leftovers into Profit

Wasted food on wooden served festive table after dinner party. Leftovers, empty plates, left half eaten food and meals. Top view.

Turn Your Restaurant Leftovers into Profit

It May Look Like Waste Now, But Wait Till You Read This 

If you’ve been following our blog, you probably managed to minimize your waste by at least 10%, which means great news for your revenue stream. Now that you’ve got into the habit of weighing and categorizing your waste, it’s time to get creative and make some money. From recycling and composting to donating leftovers and even to selling your waste, there are different ways in which you can make what seems like yesterday’s food into profit. 

Just Because It’s a Few Days Old Doesn’t Mean Its Waste

You’re probably right not to use a week old tomato for your fresh tomato mozzarella salad. But that doesn’t mean it can’t make for a delicious pasta sauce, paste, soup, stock, smoothie, or more. Dehydrating fruit and vegetables, in general, is easier than you think. You can make anything from a bar snack to a sun dried tomatoes focaccia using a basic dehydrator. The best way to go around this is simply to have fun with it.   

Sell your restaurant’s unused food before it becomes waste. There are various apps that help restaurants sell anything from morning scones to vegetarian dishes to lunch specials. Be sure to leave a sign out at the end of the day to invite neighbors and passersby to enjoy delicious food at a discounted price. 

Child’s hands throwing out kitchen waste from the vintage cutting board to the garden compost heap for recycling and fertilizer.

This nutrient-dense soil is also known as the gardener’s “black gold”.

Learn about Composting

Composting is not just about doing your share for the environment by separating plastics from biodegradables. It is also about complementing your business plan and revenue.  

Many local farmers, for example, use food scraps for animal feed and are willing to pay, if only a small fee, for taking it off your hands. Just make sure you’re not violating any local, state or federal regulations. 

If you have a vegetable garden, whether at the back of the restaurant or at home, manure compost can do wonders for your soil. It enhances water and nutrient holding capacity, eventually helping you grow a truly organic garden.

Use fruit and vegetable peelings, old baked goods, grains, herbs and any other food that is not meat, fish or dairy.


Throw away your trash in an orderly fashion. This will help you implement reusable items and reduce expenses on non-food products. Have a separate bin for glass, cardboard, plastic and so on. Many items you can sanitize and reuse, for example as leftover food containers. Some you can simply use again and again, like cloth napkins as opposed to paper ones. Empty bottles can become vases, and many other items can be used as decoration. Get your team involved and have some fun throwing ideas around. You’d be surprised at how creative people can be.

Donate Leftovers 

There are many organizations out there that are always looking for any type of excess food to take back to homeless shelters. In San Francisco, for instance, there are even delivery groups that volunteer to pick up your donation and distribute it to various feeding programs.

You can also offer staff meals. You may not have enough of something to make it through a full dinner service, but your staff would certainly appreciate it more if you gave it to them for free as opposed to just throwing it in the trash.

Whatever you decide to do with your restaurant’s waste just remember that it’s not all trash and that there’s real money to be made from it. More importantly, Try telling your customers that the food they’re eating was grown in a fully organic garden at the back of the restaurant, or that whatever they leave on the plate will be nicely packaged and sent to those who need it most. Tell them that, and you’re guaranteed they’ll be back.

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