Having children at home and trying to cut back on food waste seems very impossible. Kids, in case you don’t know, are huge picky eaters with changeable tastes, their eyes are often bigger than their bellies and they can stubbornly refuse to eat something “new” you’ve put on their plate.
Parents end up very often to waste food and it’s often perfectly good food that ends up in the garbage. I’m not a parent myself but I’ve got nephews and it’s always challenging to control their appetite and convince them that food is precious. I’ve been brainstorming ways to share my love for sustainability with parents and giving them some useful tips will help them save money, save food and train those cheeky little humans to respect food.
So, here are my tips:
- Start a family food waste challenge:
Kids love games and when you set a goal to see how much food is rescued, you’ll be surprised with their enthusiasm in counting and measuring the food that isn’t going into trash. Do not forget to set a family reward for when you reach your goal!
- Limit snacking before dinner:
Kids who snack mindlessly and without supervision tend to eat more and that can negatively impact how much they eat at the dinner table.
- Make food fun and easy to eat:
Cut fruits and veggies into bite-size pieces and store what doesn’t get consumed in the refrigerator for the next day. If you don’t want to keep in storage fruits, you may share some of them with your kids. This way they’ll get convinced that if you like fruits, they like them to. Make kid-friendly snacks and share when needed!
- Reduce portion size:
Serve your kids smaller portions. For older children, let them help themselves to food but discourage overloading their plate. If they are still hungry after finishing what they’ve taken, they can have a second helping.
- Pack lunches strategically:
Food waste can happen at school during lunch as well. Encourage your kids to bring home what they haven’t eaten so you can talk with them about why certain foods weren’t consumed.
- Save the leftovers:
Side-dishes and entries can be given new life in a different recipe the next day. Learn to be creative through cooking.
- Teach your kids about food:
Beyond shopping at a grocery shop or a supermarket, most children don’t have a good understanding of where food comes from and the work is required to produce it. Try some fun and family-friendly activities such as:
- Plan a vegetable or herb garden together
- Cook meals together
- Start a compost bin
- Explain what happens to food when we throw it away
- Be a good role model:
If we want our kids to be sustainable heroes, then we need to prove that we are! It’s important to be a good role model and make sure we’re setting a positive example. Children follow our words and actions and we’re modeling the behaviors we would like them to develop.
With a little commitment and persistence, the above suggestions will give your children the tools they need to value food and not waste it. Teach your kids to be food waste warriors!!