5 Ways To Avoiding Food Waste with Children

Your son pours himself a gigantic glass of milk, assures you he will drink it all, and then finishes about 3 sips. Your daughter looks at dinner in disgust, and refuses to eat a single bite. Littered around the house are apples with a thin line of bites around the center, opened and discarded snack bars, and crumbly messes.

If this sounds familiar, you’re not alone. In an article published by the College of Agricultural & Environmental Sciences UGA Cooperative Extension, Travis Smith (a CAES agricultural economist) noted that families with infants and small children waste more food.

Yet, if you care about the environment at all, chances are the trail of uneaten food left behind by your kids is probably driving you wild. Fortunately, there are ways to help reduce the amount of food wasted in your house. Here are our 5 favorite tips.

Save Leftovers for Snacks

Some days, your child will pack down more than their body weight in food. Other times they will eat half a baby carrot, announce they are “full” and get down from the table.

Pressuring kids into eating everything on their plate can lead to eating disorders later in life, but what do you do when they refuse to eat? A great solution is to save even the tiny portions of leftover food and put them together in a snack tray later.

Sliced apples that weren’t appealing for breakfast are a great mid-morning snack, and a few bites of chicken from lunch can help your child survive the afternoon when waiting for dinner.

Often times, children aren’t hungry for dinner but start begging for snacks an hour later. If you have their meal waiting for them, you’ll have less food waste and healthier options for them than goldfish.

Make Food Easy to Eat

Many times children waste food not because they don’t want it, but because it is too hard to eat it. If your child tends to eat just a few bites of an apple, try cutting the apple into bite sized pieces. Cut up food is easier for them to handle.

In one study focused on school lunches, researchers found that serving sliced apples did decrease waste compared to serving whole apples.

If you can make food easier for your child to eat, chances are they’ll consume more than if it is too hard for them.

Make eating fun

Sometimes, kids don’t eat because it’s not fun. If you have an epic round of Hot Wheels going, what would you rather do? Eat broccoli or play with your cars? Playing table games can help slow people down long enough to get that food in their mouths. Here’s a list of several fun games that can make table time more enjoyable.

Serve small portions

One day your child can eat the entire pot of spaghetti. The next day two strands of pasta are enough to satisfy them. It can be really hard to predict how much a child will eat, but it’s easier to get your child seconds or thirds than it is to deal with their uneaten plate.

Explore the subject of waste

For older kids, learning about food waste can help them become more aware of what’s being tossed out. Doing a trash audit as a family can help them realize how much food is wasted without pointing fingers or making accusations.

It’s also helpful to learn where the biggest waste is coming from–and it’s not always the little ones. If you notice there’s a type of food waste that is yours, you can help model the correct behavior by addressing it.

Simple changes can make a big difference in how much food is wasted in your house. Addressing food waste can not only help the environment and teach your kids about sustainability, it can also save thousands in food bills. All together, reducing waste is a win-win for the planet, your family, and even your pocket book.

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