Food inventory management

Reduce food loss at your business by tracking food you throw away.


Minneapolis restaurants create 35,000 tons of food waste each year. That's 30% of the city’s total food waste.

Ideas to reduce food waste:

  • Track the food you throw away to better manage your inventory. Download the City’s wasted food log
  • Discuss inventory practices with your team and make needed changes.
  • Consider using software to track food inventory and losses.

Get started

Manage your inventory

Use your oldest foods first

  • Rotate stock
    Rotate stock within and across food storage areas and coolers to prevent waste.
  • Incorporate line checks
    Use line checks to identify nearly expired items. Use them right away.
  • Clearly label food with expiration date
    Develop an effective date marking system for all foods. Identify older products for immediate use.
  • Cross-section communication
    Communicate across stations on the line to align production with demand. Use older ingredients first.

Consider other inventory management ideas

  • Check deliveries
    Inspect incoming deliveries to make sure food is in good condition.
  • Use your freezer
    Properly freeze excess portions of food to extend shelf life.
  • Understand sales trends
    Track your customers' ordering habits. Use that information to make smaller batch sizes when it makes sense.
  • Sell excess food
    The Too Good to Go app lets you track surplus food and sell it to people in Minneapolis. See Too Good to Go
  • Do menu planning
    Make your menu flexible so you can substitute ingredients.

Maintain equipment properly

  • Prevent equipment malfunctions
    Work with your HVAC company to create a refrigeration maintenance plan.
  • Store food effectively
    Do not overcrowd coolers or freezers.
  • Keep coils clean
    Keep cooler and freezer coils clean and free of dust.
  • Maintain gaskets
    Make sure refrigeration and freezer gaskets are in working condition.

Keep food temperature safe

  • Cool food rapidly
    Use effective cooling methods to avoid throwing away improperly cooled food. Fill food two inches or less in an uncovered pan and store in a working cooler.
  • Monitor coolers
    Check your coolers regularly to make sure cold foods are held at or below 41°F

Trim waste

  • Monitor garbage and compost bins
    Look at what fills your trash and compost bins. See what could have been used for something else.
  • Trim waste efficiently
    Monitor unusable trim waste. Make sure your cooks are breaking down meats and produce effectively.
  • Make stock
    Transform most trim waste into a stock.
  • Divert
    Divert unusable trim waste to a compost bin or donate for animal feed production. 


Prevent Wasted Food in Minneapolis: Getting Started

As restaurant workers prepare food, some may not realize how much will be wasted.

  • By keeping food from going to waste, you can save your restaurant money.
  • On average, every dollar your restaurant spends on preventing wasted food will save you seven dollars.

Video available in three languages

Chef with clipboard looking at food inventory
Person looking at laptop in coffee shop

Get help from Hennepin County

The County offers free technical help and grants to businesses. Learn how to reduce wasted food, donate food and compost with organics recycling.

Contact us

Minneapolis Health Department




Public Service Building
505 Fourth Ave. S., Room 520
Minneapolis, MN 55415