A few simple steps can prevent most leftovers and waste when out on your hot dog cart. Sometimes its unpreventable – but most of the time you can avoid wasting food. Can you just reheat tomorrow?
THE UNAVOIDABLE WASTE
I had honed in my zero waste skills and had several carts running with little to no waste daily, but then one bright sunny Saturday morning I was setting up for a community yard sale and put on extra hot dogs and sausages.
I was correct in assuming many of these yard sale folks would have skipped breakfast and would become my first big rush – as I setup.
As I began serving, I added more and more to my steam pans to avoid getting caught without enough product that was ready to be served. My plan was working perfectly until the winds suddenly picked up.
I stopped serving for a second, put the umbrella down to avoid becoming the next Mary Poppins and kept going. Six point three (6.3) seconds later… BAM. The sky turned black and buckets of rain came down.
I loaded up and left. All in all.. I lost about 10 pounds of meat and an entire pan of chili.
Weather can and will interrupt some of your days. Usually though, it can also be avoided. Had I checked that morning's forecast – I'd of been keenly aware of the looming threat. (apparently the yard salers didn't see it either)
ZERO WASTE (almost none)
It's easy to get caught up in a rush and then you become too optimistic. You over plan, over cook and you will waste even more. It's why over the years I've taught the techniques to avoid the waste while still being able to serve quick and avoid folks having to wait too long.
Rapid boiling, rapid steaming and having pre-portioned products are key to successfully avoiding waste. Separating your hot dogs into smaller frozen backs of different numbers allows you to grab a 5 pack, a 15 or 30 to put into your pans in an instant.
Same goes for chili and other condiments with higher values. Many vendors only keep a little chili hot and then add small pre-portioned Tupperware type bowls when they need more.
I know… it seems like common sense but even the best vendors let emotions get in the way and we often will over prep and over cook – leading to waste. Pro Vendor tips and trick inside VendorsUnited.com.
IS IT WASTE OR MARKETING MATERIALS?
Long before I knew all the tips on preventing waste, I had figured out that my waste could be used as instant and delicious marketing. I created a few fliers and each time I had waste, instead of throwing it out and righting it off… I chose to give it to others.
I'd drop 5 leftover hot dogs, prepped and loaded with condiments at the Sheriff's Office or the homeless shelter or a local business. My flier would share about my catering and event bookings and also had my menu and locations.
Those little gifts from what would have been waste… they became assets and my business grew even faster.
When my leftovers were too cold to deliver, I'd take them home and my kids would get yet another hot dog mid-day snack.
CAN I REHEAT AND RE-SERVE TOMORROW?
YES! But only if you love to get a bad reputation or at the very least have a mediocre product. Take a hot dog, boil it. Then re-freeze and then re-heat it… whatcha think? Yuck. Even if they stayed tasting good… they certainly don't look the same.
Same goes for chili and cheese sauce. Once heated and not used… don't plan on using that later. Keep your reputation for great, fast, delicious foods intact and avoid stepping over dollars to pick up dimes. (a Jason Brown saying)