Analyze Kitchen Workflow
Observe and audit the workflow of your kitchen staff. Consider the moving parts of your kitchen, observing how staff members interact with equipment, ingredients, and each other. Identify areas that cause bottlenecks or inefficiencies, and use these as starting points for improvement.
Optimize Storage Layout
While everyone’s space is different, the lower-down frontside shelves in your storage room are the most easily accessible. Put your most frequently used ingredients on these accessible shelves. Keep less frequently used items or bulk storage towards the back or on higher shelves.
Clearly label each item
Mark up your ingredient container with its name, date of receipt, expiration date (if applicable), and any other relevant information. This practice helps your staff keep track of inventory and reduces waste by staying on top of expiring items. Additionally, you should consider adopting an inventory management system or software to track and manage your inventory effectively.
Implement the FIFO Inventory Management Method
FIFO stands for “First In, First Out”, ensuring the proper rotation of perishable items. Stock your newer items at the back, while bringing your older to the front of each shelf, minimizing food waste and maintaining freshness.
Categorize Your Inventory
Organize your stock into logical categories based on product type; including dry goods, canned goods, spices, dairy products, meats, beverages, cleaning supplies, and non-food items. This macro-level grouping makes finding certain items intuitive for your staff. Clearly label each section to ensure easy identification and retrieval. Consider using color-coded labels or signs to further enhance organization and minimize confusion.
Your storage room needs to have a regulated climate, to prevent food spoilage and also maintain the comfort and safety of your staff.
Temperature: The ideal temperature for a kitchen is usually 64-70°F (18-21°C). This range helps slow the growth of bacteria while providing a comfortable working environment. Refrigerators should be set 40°F (4°C) or below for perishable items, while freezers should stay below 0°F (-18°C) for long-term storage of frozen items.
Humidity: Controlling humidity prevents the growth of mold while also preventing the buildup of condensation. The ideal humidity is typically around 40-60%. Ventilation and fan systems can help maintain consistent humidity levels by evacuating excess moisture.
Lighting: Proper lighting is not only a crucial safety feature, but it also ensures your food is properly stored and prepped. Adequately bright lights should illuminate any space where staff work, in order to mitigate risks of accidents and allow your staff to find any ingredient or piece of equipment they’re searching for. LED or fluorescent lights are commonly used in commercial kitchens due to their brightness and energy efficiency. Motion-sensor fixtures are perfect for areas walk-in storage areas, turning on the lights for your staff while their hands are full of ingredients.
Train Staff and Establish Protocols
A storage system only works if everyone is on board. Train your staff in storage procedures, inventory management, and organization protocols. Establish foolproof systems and procedures for receiving, storing, and rotating stock. Maintaining the organization and cleanliness of the storeroom should be part of your staff’s daily responsibilities. You might also consider posting a map of the storeroom as a cheat sheet for new hires.
In addition to the above steps, make sure you follow these two principles on top of everything else.
Utilize shelving and storage solutions: Install shelves that are both sturdy and adjustable to accommodate different sizes and weights of items. Storage bins, racks, or shelves with dividers keep smaller items organized and prevent them from cluttering the space. Maximize your vertical space with wall-mounted shelves or hanging racks to maximize storage capacity.
Maintain clear aisles: Regularly make sure the storeroom aisles are clear and unobstructed to facilitate easy movement and prevent accidents. Avoid storing items in the aisles, as they slow your staff and create tripping hazards.