6 ways to use excess & expiring inventory in your kitchen (plus prevention tips)

Editorial Team

3 min read
Chef carrying crate inside stock room

There are a lot of moving parts in your foodservice kitchen, and instead of moving excess and expiring inventory straight to the trash, try these creative ways to help profit. Plus, discover easy solutions using Thrive inventory to reduce expiring and excess stock to begin with.

Every time your kitchen staff throws an ingredient away because it expired or you have more than you can use, you are essentially throwing money down the drain. Foodservice businesses operate on extremely tight margins so optimizing your inventory movement can mean better cash flow management.

What is excess inventory?

Ordering for foodservice businesses requires a tricky balance between supply and demand. However, you might not be able to serve everything as intended. For instance, if you prepare for a big crowd for a festival but it rains all weekend, you will likely have way more ingredients than you actually need.

What is expiring inventory?

Most products in your kitchen have a shelf life, which means at a certain point you cannot serve them anymore. This is especially important to monitor in establishments to avoid giving your customers food poisoning, which will negatively impact reviews, loyalty, and trust.

Creative ways to move excess and expiring inventory before it’s too late

Run specials

Add a weekly or even a daily special to your menu that highlights the ingredient in an exclusive way.

Use generic menu language

Easily swap out ingredients on your menu that you need to use up with generic language like “roasted vegetables.”


Sell pastries from the morning or the previous day at an attractive discount that customers won’t be able to pass up.

Use third-party services

Consider food waste platforms like Too Good To Go where you can list unsold food at the end of the day at a discount.


While you won’t profit from donating, it is a great way to give your products to those in need and to highlight your commitment to sustainability to your customers.

How to reduce expiring and excess inventory

Track your inventory levels

This is the first step to understanding your kitchen. Too many foodservice businesses rely on guesswork and nightly cycle counts. This leads to human error and discovering issues rather than preventing them.

Try Thrive’s inventory management system for foodservice businesses to know exactly what you have in stock, what is expiring and when, and ingredients that haven’t been used recently.

Practice demand forecasting

In addition to knowing the status of your inventory at the moment, having detailed insight into the future is equally as important. Demand forecasting in Thrive looks at your sales trends and your inventory levels to predict when you will run out of stock. This is especially important for ensuring you only order what you need.

Set maximum PAR levels

PAR levels are another way of controlling your inventory levels. Maximum PAR levels in Thrive help ensure that you don’t over-order products, which can often lead to expiring and excess inventory.

Implement FIFO

By practicing first in, first out (FIFO) in your foodservice business, you use older ingredients or products first. This reduces the chances of using items that have passed their expiration dates or are no longer safe to consume. Food waste takes over $160 billion out of foodservice businesses each year. Think of what reducing it can mean for your bottom line. While introducing new processes and tools into your kitchen may require upfront investment, it can help positively impact your cash flow management immediately.

Thrive integrates seamlessly with Clover’s POS systems for restaurants. Visit the Clover App Market to start using Thrive to manage your inventory today.

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