How we live is being transformed in many ways by sustainable practices. And it has become even more evident in the food industry. The Financial Times reports that an estimated one-third of the food produced globally ends up as food waste. This contributes to greenhouse gas emissions and other forms of overconsumption and surplus. It is no surprise, then, that a zero-waste philosophy is spreading across Europe and other regions, calling on restaurants to avoid adding to this issue. As a result, food establishments are being encouraged to adopt more sustainable practices such as generating less waste and using renewable resources.

So without further ado, here are three sustainable habits that restaurants need today:

Sourcing produce from small businesses

More restaurants are sourcing ingredients from smaller suppliers, such as local farmers and fishermen. There are many benefits to getting food locally. Not only is produce cheaper for restaurant owners, but it is also often more flavorful and easier to obtain. It provides a better marketing opportunity as people generally gravitate towards restaurants that show their ingredients are locally sourced or farm-to-table.

Septime in Paris, France, is one such restaurant sourcing from small businesses. Their seafood comes from a supplier that sources purely from small-scale fishermen that use sustainable methods to prevent overfishing. The restaurant also ensures that every part of the animal is used when buying meat — a win-win situation for both the cattle rancher and the restaurant itself. It is especially important for restaurants like Septime to use inventory management tools to ensure a good balance and sufficient supply without overstocking.

Improve inventory management processes

Operating sustainably is not always easy. Newer businesses often encounter these challenges in the early stages, and restaurants are no exception. Ben Horowitz covers how to overcome these challenges in his book The Hard Thing About Hard Things, which talks about the hard-hitting facts of starting, running, and succeeding in business. This is especially true during the pandemic as restaurants are trying to adopt a more sustainable approach.

For food establishments, starting with one’s resources is crucial, which is why improving your inventory management processes matters. Not only does it help food waste reduction, but you can also plan and allocate your produce more efficiently. Inventory solutions should also be automated and intuitive since businesses are expected to provide stellar service quickly. TotalCtrl gives you a real-time view of what’s in your inventory at any given time while providing data to streamline restaurant operations. These solutions make it easier to function sustainably, even with the struggles of running a business during this time.

Use leftover ingredients

Food waste is a huge issue in the culinary scene, and one restaurant that has actively found ways to solve this is Rest in Oslo. It deliberately uses imperfect produce and misshapen vegetables to save what would be considered waste at grocery stores. However, it’s important to use tools to measure just how long your food will last. TotalCtrl does this by controlling inventory based on expiry date data. It helps kitchens prioritize the right raw cooking materials. Restaurants can use this software to prevent food waste using a more accurate monitoring system, making the establishment more sustainable.

Whether your restaurant focuses on preventing food waste or installing tools like solar panels, sustainable habits should be maintained over the long run. A little bit of effort now can make a big difference later, and your customers will be taking part in a greater effort to save the environment for a more sustainable future.

Written by Aliyah Beatrice Clay
Exclusive for totalctrl.com

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417 000 tonnes of food is thrown away yearly in Norway, corresponding to NOK 20.7 billion and 1.26 million tonnes of gas emissions. We use the earth’s resources to produce food and up to ⅓ of this goes to waste. Food waste emits large amounts of methane and carbon dioxide, leading to an increase in greenhouse gas emissions. Each of us can make an impact on the amount of food that is thrown away as well as the authorities and municipalities having the power to change how we handle food waste.

The European Waste Framework includes major goals to improve food waste for consumers and businesses. UN’s sustainability goal 12.3 also states that we will half the world’s food waste by 2030.

What can we do today to get one step closer to achieving these goals and following the guidelines?

Recycle Waste

First, it is crucial that we ensure that food waste gets reused properly.. Food waste and leftovers can be converted into bioenergy during decomposition processes. It is therefore important to build effective partnerships between municipalities and companies that handle food waste. Such cooperations can help ensure that organic residues are converted into bioenergy.

We Need to Learn More and Spread the Word

There are several players out there who have a vast amount of knowledge on food waste and sustainability. It is therefore critical that institutions such as schools reach out to such players by helping to create awareness about this.

Cooperation Between Authorities and the Food Industry

The food industry accounts for 46% of all food waste. Therefore, industries and the authorities must work together to reduce this measure. The government can implement change by setting goals and introducing laws and regulations. For example, financially supported initiatives for the introduction of sustainable technology and support initiatives from the business community.

Food Banks

Food Banks collect food from places such as grocery stores. The food is then either stored in a warehouse or given away as soon as possible given expiration dates. Food Banks donate food to aid organizations or deliver food packages to people who need it.

Introduce Inventory Systems

The largest contributor to food waste is the public sector. For example, schools and kindergartens account for 12% of food waste in the public sector. This can be greatly reduced by implementing softwares that is suitable for inventory management given the relevant business. 

With TotalCtrl, we can take a big step together towards the goal of halving food waste by 2030.

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Restaurants do inventory counts several times a month as they receive orders at least once a week. The manual work is time consuming and most restaurants spend more time than they think when it comes to inventory management.

The restaurant managers we have worked with would much rather spend their time on other tasks (e.g. counting cash, dishwashing) than constantly having to make time to count their inventory.

Why do most people want to avoid counting their inventory manually in restaurants? We see that there are several reasons for this.

Lack of Organization and Control

One of the reasons that keeping track of inventory is so time consuming is that prior to getting to the stage of counting inventory, time needs to be spent on organizing, cleaning and sorting products. 

You have to get rid of items that have gone out of date, clean the shelves, sort and group different types of items – all this before you can even start counting each item.

No System for Expired Products

Most restaurants know that FIFO is an important rule when it comes to inventory management – First In, First Out. In a time-pressured industry such as the restaurant industry, one will often just grab the first thing one finds and therefore often easily forget this. Waiters may  feel that it is not their job to oversee this or do not see the value of FIFO. Furthermore, the management team does not have time for this.

Whatever the reason is for not being able to follow the FIFO-method, a significant part of restaurant inventory ends up being thrown away, making it much harder to keep count.

Read more about how restaurants can reduce food waste here.

Lack of Knowledge Among Employees

Let’s say that you as a restaurant manager have control over an organized inventory and follow the FIFO method. But, you know you can not do this alone. Many new waiters and employees come in and out of the restaurant industry, this means that more time and effort needs to be spent on teaching staff how to manage inventory. 

Price Lookup

After you have counted as well as organized stock and written everything you have down on paper, you have to look up all the prices. You probably have several hundred items in your stock and need to look over the price you paid for each of these, another time consuming task. 

Manual spreadsheets

After organizing, counting and researching prices on inventory – all this is then manually entered into a spreadsheet on the computer. This can often lead to several errors, underlining why counting items manually  is  hard and time consuming.

Time-consuming Calculations and  Analysis

Furthermore, you also need to analyze numbers for your restaurant and understand what those numbers mean. Have any items disappeared? Are you ordering too much of something that leads to food waste?

Furthermore, the whole process needs to be repeated again….


Inventory counting is a time consuming and endless process that can be improved with the help of inventory management software. Read more here about how the HORECA industry can digitize their inventory system.

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There are several reasons to be smarter when it comes to fully utilizing the food we buy ? We all need to get better at using leftovers. With this, we give you 10 tips on how to use all your leftovers and avoid food waste:

  1. Have a plan

When planning meals, think about what your potential leftovers can be. This can save you time, money and avoid food waste. For example, when cooking vegetables, you can cook enough to not only last you for the day’s meal but use the vegetables as a soup or a pasta dish later in the week.

  1. Portion and store smart

Many food products come in large packages, it is thus important that you learn how to store this in the best possible way. It can be smart to freeze items such as bread, tortillas and pita. When it comes to your leftovers, you can store this in glass containers, (both reusable and sustainable), allowing you to see what’s inside. To freeze your leftovers, you can use zip-loc bags, labelling it with the date and what it contains.

  1. “Kitchen sink” meals

Well-cooked vegetables, pieces of cheese, beef, shrimp or chicken can be mixed with salad and your favorite dressing for a fresh salad.

  1. Alternative to composting

As an alternative to composting, you can store vegetable scraps in a zip-top bag in the freezer to make stock. This can be thawed and placed in a pot of water. Leave it for 2 hours, strain – and you will have a great veggie stock.

  1. Turn dinner into a lunch

This saves both time and money in a busy everyday life. Place a portion from your dinner in a lunch box and use it for lunch the next day.

  1. Leftovers are ingredients

Your leftovers can be used in many different dishes. If you blend cooked vegetables with a can of tomatoes you can make a delicious veggie sauce for pasta.

  1. Old bread?

Mix together remnants of herbs and bread in your food processor to make bread crumbs, and freeze these. Use as a topping for fried or baked cheese, or you could add cheese and make a spread for baked mushrooms.

  1. Leftover day

Do you have a lot of leftovers that accumulate in the fridge during the week? Dedicate a day where you commit to “eating down your fridge”. 

  1. Soup

You can make soup out of the extra vegetables you have from a previous meal. Put it in a blender with 3 cups of vegetable/chicken broth, and heat the soup. Add a little spice and top with pesto or croutons.

  1. Don’t buy in bulks

Buying in bulk may be convenient, but this shopping method leads to more food waste. Try to avoid buying more food than you need. Instead of big hauls at the grocery store, have frequent trips every few days. Remember to use up all the food you purchased during the last trip before buying more groceries. Also, make a list of items that you need to buy and stick to that list. This will help you reduce leftovers, save food and money.

And not to say at least, you can make a pizza out of almost anything?

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Monday 31 May, we held our first “TotalCtrl webinar” on digitization and green technology. Here we wanted to go deeper into how the technological landscape in municipal Norway looks like today and why digitization is important for sustainable development in the public sector. During the webinar, Charlotte Aschim (CEO, TotalCtrl) and Nam Vo (Project Manager, TotalCtrl) shared their experiences with green technology and their work in the fight against food waste.


The technological landscape in municipalities today
We have noticed that Norway is behind our neighboring countries Denmark, Sweden and Finland when it comes to digitization and technological development in municipalities. A lot of people might associate new technology with something that is time- and resource consuming, and are skeptical of new things they do not know. This makes the implementation of new technology even more difficult. We see that it is especially the smaller municipalities that is behind when it comes to new technology and digitization. A survey conducted by SINTEF with 340 municipalities shows that it is easier to implement new technology in the large municipalities than in the small and medium-sized ones. Much of this may be due to lack of resources and expertise.


Challenges in kindergartens, and nursing homes
We see that the older generation work at nursing homes, where one can imagine that these do not absorb new technology as well as the younger generation, and rather want the old routines that have worked in all years. The kindergartens we have worked with, on the other hand, have a greater knowledge of environment and sustainability. Several kindergartens are green flag certified, environmental lighthouse certified, health-promoting kindergartens, environmental kindergartens and / or BREEAM certified. One of the reasons for this may be because there are more young people working in the daycare sector who often stay up to date with what is going on in the technology world. But even in kindergartens, we see that they have challenges when it comes to manual routines, and that the use of pen and paper is still common practice. An example of this is seen when ordering food in kindergartens. Each department must check what they have in stock and write down what they will need so that the general manager can collect these notes to be able to order. This often leads to a lack of control, which in turn leads to food being thrown away … This could have been avoided if the kindergartens had better communication and control over what is in them at the various departments.

Ensure good integration of technological solutions in municipal Norway
Based on our experience from both private and public actors undergoing a digital shift, we see some clear similarities in what makes it work:
1. It is important to ally with a so-called “Champion”, ie. a person who is committed and has anchoring authority.
2. One must ensure that both time and money are allocated to the digital shift.
3. Planning, mapping and communication are extremely important factors!

Kommunenorge’s job ahead
The UN’s sustainability goals are becoming more important with each passing day, and aim to secure a future for our future children and grandchildren. Norway has imposed a number of goals on the municipalities that will be tried to be achieved by 2030, including halving food waste. Here we see that there is a great opportunity for municipal Norway to use digitization and green technology. It is important that the municipalities take the initiative, and use the knowledgeable companies out there who want to help.

After a great success with this webinar, our next webinar will have the theme “The digital kindergarten” which will be held in June.

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Working in grocery stores during our studies, we became worried for the future. We witnessed tremendous amounts of food being wasted every day.

Together we started our company, TotalCtrl, with the goal of developing a digital tool that would help fight food waste while saving our customers time and money. It all started with the intention of helping grocery stores, as that was where we had first-hand experience with food waste, but after learning more about food waste we found that most of the food waste happened at the consumer level. According to research, you and I were to blame for enormous amounts of fully edible food being wasted every year. 40-50% of all food that is wasted is wasted by households, you, and me. And the reason for this is that we lack control over our inventory, we forget to use the food before it expires, we buy double, and it is a hazel using time to get better control and to be creative in regard to how to utilize existing items in recipes.

After extensive market research we found that the consumer was extremely interested in having a solution that would notify them prior to expiry dates, give them recipes based on inventory and digitize their kitchen. They were interested in this if it helped them save time and money. If it also helped reduce food waste, that would be a bonus, but not something the consumer was so concerned about – in late 2017. Charlotte learned how to code via YouTube and created a prototype of the solution and had it tested by over a 100 people. They loved it.

For us, TotalCtrl, it did not make sense to build such a solution for consumers as it would not make financial sense. So we sent out cold emails to all the online retailers in Norway. I think, at that time, it was about 12 players in the market. The second biggest online retailer in Norway, Handleriet.no, said: yes, this is something we would like to be part of. Together we formed the requirement of the Handleriet.no app.

It was a success. Handleriet.no was happy and TotalCtrl had proven that the technology worked. The solution got a lot of attention and was also ranked as one of the most innovative digital retail solutions, alongside Amazon and Walmart by Retail Insider, but despite increased revenue, Handleriet.no had to close shop in August 2019. Running an online retailer in Norway is hard, and the costs to big to handle. This meant the end of the Handleriet.no app, but not the end of TotalCtrl.

The goal moving forward is to scale the TotalCtrl Home solution globally, ensuring that all consumers plan better, use and purchase food smarter.

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There are more than 900 nursing homes in Norway that account for 40 000 occupants. 80% of the care centers occupants are long-term residents. That means there are approximately 11.6 million hot meals served annually. Elderly care centers produce nearly 72% of all food waste produced in the public sector.

We are here to help! In this post, you will find tips on how to make food management in care centers more sustainable and how to reduce the amount of food being wasted.

Collect data

Perhaps the most important step, collect data and analyze results! Start by taking measurements. Get to know the scale of the food waste in your facility and control your progress over time.

This also includes observations. Do you know which kind of meals and what type of food are discarded the most by elderly care center residents? Is it meat / vegetarian / vegetables / pasta or desserts?

Identify at which stage the food is wasted the most: 

  • Storing – improper storage temperature and missed expiration dates
  • Preparation – leftovers after the preparation process 
  • Serving – serving too big portions

What kind of details can help you to reduce the amount of food being wasted?

  • Order food in accordance with current capacity. If you cooperate with Central Kitchen in your Municipality, make sure you update a number of the residents regularly.
  • Do nursing home residents eat less than expected? If you are observing a large amount of discarded food, review the recipes you use and make changes to the number of ingredients.
  • Research from the University of Stavanger shows that replacing dinnerware in elderly care centers from white to colored increases food intake by care center residents. That could help in both malnutrition problems prevention as well as reducing food waste.

TotalCtrl introduces software that improves inventory management in the nursing home. Gain control, make food management easier and faster, reach sustainable goals, and get valuable time to focus on helping patients that need you.

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Kindergartens are responsible for about 12% of all food waste produced in the public sector. Is there any way to solve it? Today we introduce a few tips on how to successfully reduce food waste in Kindergarten.

Scale your leftovers

This is the key step in the food waste reduction process. Data collection gives you an overview and helps you to keep an eye on the progress.

Kids are conscious and eager to learn about new things. Involve them in the process and show how to measure food waste. Analyze food loss and what kind of food is mostly discarded in your kindergarten. Think about what leftovers could be reused and how.

Few examples?

• Salmon leftovers can be eaten the next day on breakfast with a sandwich or salad.

• Vegetables can be used in omelets

• Dry bread can be turned into croutons

Education and practice

Organize workshops and talk about childrens’ food preferences. Ask what they like or dislike about meals in kindergarten. Maybe there is something that you can improve in the meal plan and make them eat willingly.

Simplified recipes and teach kids how to create a shopping list. It’s the first step to establish good grocery-shopping habits early.

If you have the possibility, take children to the kitchen and show them how food is stored and where you keep fruits, vegetables, and other products.

Implementing inventory software

It is still very common that inventory management in public institutions is very time-consuming and done manually with pen and paper.

TotalCtrl has a solution that reduces the time spent on food management and helps to cut costs and reduce food waste. Through our digital tool TotalCtrl Inventory, you can notice a real difference in the time spent on stocktaking and you can finally focus on the children – because they are the most important ones in kindergarten 😉

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Food waste is one of the biggest tragedies of our time. We use the natural environment and human effort to produce food and nearly 30% of what we produce goes to the trash bin.
Food leftovers that go to the landfill emit significant amounts of methane and carbon dioxide which contribute to increasing greenhouse gas emissions. It also affects the landscape that we live in. Each of us has an impact on the amount of food wasted, But municipalities hold the power to change the way we handle the waste.

Let’s have a look on what your municipality can do about food waste:

Recycling systems

Providing proper recycling for a municipality is a necessity, but what specifically can one do with leftovers? Food leftovers can be turned into bioenergy during the decomposition process. Cooperation with food waste management companies is an efficient method to ensure that all of the organic leftovers will be turned into bioenergy.

Educational campaigns

Providing educational campaigns amongst society and especially at schools is crucial. Increased awareness will turn into less food waste generated by households. This is a long-term plan, but it’s totally worth investing in it!

Cooperation between Government and Food Industry

The Food Industry is responsible for 46% of food loss. Therefore, cooperation between the industry and the authorities is extremely important. The government should be the leading force in executing change, by setting goals and introducing laws and regulations. An important aspect is financing support in the introduction of sustainable technologies and supporting initiatives undertaken by industry.

Food banks

Food banks collect food from entrepreneurs and supermarkets. They store it in warehouses or hand it over immediately if it is food with a short use-by date. Food banks donate food to aid organizations that run shelters or deliver food packages to the people in need.

Introducing food inventory management Systems in public institutions

The biggest contributors to food waste in the public sector are elderly care centers with as much as 71% of the waste and 12% of both schools and kindergartens. Those amounts can be significantly reduced by implementing suitable inventory software.

With TotalCtrl Inventory, you can reach the goal of reducing food waste and have a real impact on the future of our planet!

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Cooking and preparing food is one of the most common activities we do at home. According to statistics, an average European spends 1 hour daily on meal preparation and 1 hour 45 minutes on eating every day. That’s a lot! One of the things you can do to help yourself in this daily task is good pantry organization. 

In this article, you will find tips on how to organize your pantry and how to store dry food properly to extend its freshness

Products such as flour, oats, seeds, pasta, and rice should be kept at room temperature, so you can easily keep them in kitchen cabinets and drawers. It’s very important to conserve dry products from moisture and insects. The best solution for that is an airtight plastic container or glass jar. You can use glass jars and bottles that you already have at home or buy new ones. 

Except for the appearance of the pantry, there are few important technical issues you should be aware of.

Make sure to finish all that you have, before refilling containers, so this way you will avoid the situation when the container is half full with fresh product and a half with one that expires soon. 

Choose the size of the container according to your needs. Products that you use often, store in big containers, and those ones you use rarely in small ones instead.  

The expiration date of dry products is usually long, but always make sure how much is left while buying them. 

Keep dry products away from the oven and dishwasher. This type of devices will heat food unnecessarily 

How to store seasonings?

Seasonings just like other dry products are good to store in dry, dark, and cool places. The best solution is to pour spices from paper packages that don’t protect them from moisture into airtight containers. If you choose small glass jars, it will be easier for you to search for specific spices when needed. 

How long are seasonings kept fresh? Ground spices should not be stored for more than six months and the storage time of unground spices is longer. However, the best way is to check for freshness by the smell.

Kitchen moths – unwelcome guests in your kitchen. 

We usually bring them from the store. So after opening the package make sure if the contents look and smell ok. It’s very difficult to get rid of them and usually ends up throwing out absolutely all of your kitchen stock. 

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