From Waste to Win

How much food does your bakery throw out in a week? How about a month? From scraps of dough to surplus produce, the amount of food that ends up in a landfill adds up quickly. By exploring original ways to use otherwise wasted ingredients, you can identify potential menu additions, give back to your community and reach new customers. Plus, you can ultimately save time and money.

At Dough, a bakery and ice cream shop in Tampa, Florida, U.S., finding creative uses for leftovers has helped cut monthly expenses roughly 12 percent, according to General Manager Tina Contes. Unsold brownies are cut and mixed into ice cream; sauces are used to sweeten coffee drinks and donut frosting; and donut holes are fried into apple fritters. “It would be impossible to stay in business if we didn’t manage our waste,” Contes says.

Here are five more ways to turn leftovers into new offerings.

1. Don’t Scrap Anything 

The team at Volare Bread in Hamilton, New Zealand, has always made a point to save pastry scraps. A staff member came up with the idea to turn them into a new product, and now, the bakers roll up any pastry scraps into a slab of dough and combine it with ingredients like marmite and cheese or pesto and sundried tomato to make bakery scrolls. “We let our staff run free with ideas of creating more ways to become sustainable,” says Cameron Hunter, Key Accounts Manager for Volare. “Any good ideas [can be] put into practice, and benefit something that would otherwise be waste.”

2. Upgrade with a Fresh Twist

It’s not only leftover baked goods that can do double duty—bakeries can avoid the costs of wasting raw ingredients, too. When The Cookie Cups, a Minneapolis, U.S., bakery that sells cookies in the shape of mini cupcakes, has surplus blueberries and strawberries—usually reserved for batters—the bakery adds them to frosting. “Our customers comment on the fresh taste and it makes us stand out from our competitors,” owner Nicole Bandklayder says.

3.  Think Outside the Box

When London, U.K.-based home baker Sammie Le realized how many egg yolks she threw away whenever she made macarons for her family, she set out to find a use for them. She found an ice cream recipe that required egg yolks and ultimately opened macaron ice cream sandwich shop Yolkin. By searching for creative ways to use leftovers, Le was able to place a unique spin on a traditional dessert and make something no one else in her area offered.

4. Cater to a New Customer Base

Southern France Patisserie in Chicago, U.S., specializes in croissants, tartes, bite-sized eclairs and gateaux, most of which are out of reach for customers with a gluten allergy or intolerance. To serve these customers, Chef-owner Amanda Tommey Terbush uses leftover egg whites to make the cake portion of entremet, a traditional French mousse cake, and macarons, both naturally gluten-free desserts. She keeps the menu fresh with a rotating lineup of seasonal fruit fillings, chocolates and dried fruits. “This gives our gluten-free customers choices they might not find elsewhere,” she says.

5. Work With the Community

At Volare Bread, any leftover products that are still good to eat are donated to Kaivolution, a New Zealand-based food rescue service. The bakery also collaborates with local councils on food-saving and overall waste minimization initiatives. By promoting its commitment to minimizing waste, Volare opens the door to new ideas on what to do with leftovers and brings in new business from community members looking to support sustainable organizations. “Everyone has their own unique ideas,” Hunter says. “They may or may not work in your business, but [being open to them] allows buy-in from the staff as well as free ideas that can help save money.”