How to Craft an Eco-Friendly Menu

Your menu is the best place to begin incorporating greener practices in your kitchen. Folks are looking for restaurants doing good work for the environment and supporting local economies. Customers care about eco-friendly topics; studies show that customers are willing to pay more for these efforts.

Here are just a few ways to begin crafting a more eco-friendly menu:

Pump Up the Veggies

This goes far beyond the vegan and vegetarian dietary preferences, a vegetable centered menu is just better for the environment. Vegetables are less of a drain on valuable resources than animal proteins. They require less water, less space for transportation, there is no need to feed them, they do not emit greenhouse gasses, and the list goes on. Increasing your vegetable main dish count shows off your creativity as a chef while simultaneously reducing your carbon footprint.

Local and Seasonal

Sourcing as much local and seasonal product as possible decreases the strain on the environment by reducing the mileage products have to travel to enter our kitchens. This is also a key feature for your menu and shows your support of local producers and farmers – a win win.

Scratch Cooking

There is a lot of valuable energy expended by big companies making products that we’re skilled enough to produce in house. This can be anything from making your own pasta and breads, to producing your own condiments. Not only will this decrease the demand for big factory produced items, but will also entice customers.

Stem to Root Philosophy

“Stem to Root” is a program established to promote using the entire vegetable, animal, or fruit. All in the name of reducing our food waste and landfill contributions. This is a fun challenge to engage your staff to develop creative recipes all while lessening your restaurants waste.

Sourcing and Promoting

When you opt in for animal protein menu items, do so with eco-friendly sourcing in mind. Feature local farmers or ranchers, purchase meat with sustainable labeling; grass-fed, free-range, organic, gestation crate free, etc.

Source seafood that has a green rating from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood watch. These items are the best farmed or fished species available without causing detrimental effects to our waterways.

Use specific phrasing when advertising your menu, tell the customers that Farmer Bob down the road raised these chickens or that this steak comes from grass fed cows and is certified organic, etc…


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Patterson Watkins

Professional Chef/Recipe Development/Nutrition Expert/Food Photography

Patterson Watkins is a freelance recipe developer and industry consultant. She has dedicated over 15 years to food service management, encompassing restaurants and corporate dining. Patterson’s work has been featured in Taste of Home, Better Homes and Gardens, American Lifestyle and Urban Outfitters. For more information about Patterson and her work please visit

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