The optimum storage of food products in a restaurant environment is key to prioritizing function and safety in your food business. Outside of opening hours, restaurant kitchens are busy areas of activity before the first guests arrive, and after the doors close for the day. As space is often very restricted, the design of kitchens and other back of house areas should be optimized for maximum efficiency of movement, and use of space which always ensures safety.
That’s why, in this article, we’re discussing some key design elements for various areas of the kitchen. From the receiving area to the walk-in freezer, here's how to guarantee the sanitation, shelf-life and quality of your food products throughout your restaurant.
Optimize storage in the receiving area
The receiving area is generally the place where food items and all other necessities are delivered. With deliveries taking place daily, this is the point where the food storage process begins, so optimizing your storage system should start here. It’s important this area is kept well organized to prioritize efficiency of this process, and ensure everything runs smoothly in the kitchen and dining environments.
Correct management of deliveries will help to ensure stock is stored correctly, and in the right place. So, to use your space to its maximum efficiency, why not invest in some organizational shelving to store as much as you can in your receiving area? This space is also the first stage in inventory control—so, knowing what is on hand and how long it has been stored will help to minimize waste caused by over-ordering or spoilage—and by having your items neatly laid out and labelled, you can check stock at a glance. This kind of efficiency can save you restaurant money in the long-run, so is well worth considering.
Prioritize safety in the walk-in freezer and refrigerator
Frozen goods should be stored in a walk-in freezer, which must keep frozen items at the correct temperature to avoid thawing, and contamination—meaning safety should be especially prioritized in these areas.
One of the most common food safety violations in restaurants is incorrect refrigerator temperatures. Walk-in refrigerators need to keep refrigerated goods at a temperature that doesn’t risk freezing liquid products, but not so warm that they’re at risk of spoilage. Fresh food should be kept between 0-4 degrees Celsius, the chiller compartment close to zero degrees Celsius, and freezer close to negative 18 degrees Celsius. An important consideration to bear in mind when it comes to walk-in refrigerators is that every time the door opens, the temperature is affected. So, constant monitoring of your refrigerator temperature is essential in allowing you to maintain excellent standards of food storage hygiene, and to prevent a short shelf-life on your products.
Think storage principles
Dry foods also require correct storage temperatures. For optimum conditions, place dry foods in areas with low humidity levels, and store them away from stoves. To promote freshness, store dry goods in tightly sealed containers which can easily be stacked for efficient storage. Storing these items above floor level is an efficient way to prevent infestations from insects, rodents, or cross-contamination with other items, while saving flooring space for bigger items and kitchen equipment.
When it comes to storage, organization should follow a ‘first in, first out’ rule—as it’s more efficient if you ensure that older items are used first. It may be easier to put the new food in front if you are in a hurry, but taking the time to replenish and face up, with older items at the back has several benefits. This method will prioritize food quality as less produce will be likely to go out of date, while also aiding food safety due to a reduced chance of spoilage—and consequently, use of spoiled goods in the kitchen. So, it may be worth spending that extra couple of minutes out of your day to organize your shelves to cut costs on replacement of food in the long run, and prioritize sanitation.
Whether you’re redesigning your restaurant food storage area, or are considering optimizing your storage options, be inspired to put design at the forefront of your restaurant food storage requirements and considerations.
Tom Brialey is the founder and director of Action Shelving, which adopts his philosophy that, in addition to the highest quality products, you must also provide the highest standard of service to your customers in order to succeed. That’s why it’s Tom’s mission to provide expert support 100 percent of the way.