Aaaah food. The stuff you lovingly plan and prepare, so that your children experience a wealth of new tastes, and receive a perfect balance of the major food groups.
Hmmm, food. The stuff that gets pushed around the plate, licked, prodded and dropped, before being rejected, unfit for anyone else to munch.
Food that was the flavour of the week last week; but akin to poison this week. Food that was piled onto the plate by the ravenous child, who then decides that four mouthfuls are quite enough to sustain her. Meals that were planned and bought on Sunday, but languish in the back of the fridge amongst the general chaos of illness/running late/the wonderful ease of fish fingers.
If you’re a parent who has ever given half a thought to climate change, the chances are you despair at the amount of food you send to landfill. Read on for easy, no-hassle ways to reduce and manage your family’s food waste...
Make it bite-sized
In an eye-opening study by Cornell University, the number of children who ate more than half an apple was 71% higher when it was cut into chunks. It turns out that it’s not just your to-do list that benefits from being cut in bite-sized pieces - the sheer size of some fruit and veg is overwhelming for little mouths and minds.
Not only do individual pieces mean your children are likely to eat more - you can store and save the unused food.
Save what they don’t eat
Your child eats six mouthfuls and wants no more. An hour later, your child requests a snack. Do you want to reduce waste? AND help your child eat more healthily? AND reduce his snack mentality? Then replace the snack with the food from his meal that he didn’t eat.
Start your child’s meal with a small portion, and be ready to offer seconds. Just like the bite-sized chunks of fruit, a smaller portion looks less daunting than a full plate. Extra food that’s not been on the plate can be frozen or saved for another meal.
Meal plan with your children
We all know that meal planning saves waste and money - and getting your children involved is a double whammy. Their suggestions may surprise you (in a good way…) and they are more likely to eat what they have chosen.
Fruit and veg wrapped in plastic aren't just unnecessary, it adds to food waste. If you need four carrots, then buy four carrots - don’t buy a bag. If you’re shopping with children, asking them to pick the loose fruit and veg staves off boredom. They are also more likely to eat ‘their’ misshapen carrot or giant cauliflower.
Have a weekly ‘use it up’ meal
You know how your children eat some weird and wonderful combinations? Roll with it. Once a week - ideally the day before you do a food shop - have a rummage through the fridge and concoct a mish-mash-meal of everything that’s on-the-turn/seen better days/now looks totally uninspiring.
Your fridge contains two eggs, bendy green beans, a 2cm cube of cheese and two ends of cucumber? Well, toast the slightly stale bread ends and you’ve covered all the major food groups. Give it a cool name - ‘Space explorer’s energy boosting egg-stravaganza’ anyone? - and watch it get eaten with more enthusiasm than the lasagne you slaved over.
It’s also a good reason to explore the Depths Of The Fridge, so you can plan your meals to use up any more left-overs at the beginning of the week.
Get a bokashi bin
This isn’t about reducing your waste - it’s about dealing with it more effectively. ‘Normal’ compost can’t include cooked food, dairy, bread and meat, but if you invest in a hot composting system like a bokashi bin, then you can stop virtually all your food waste going to landfill. An added bonus: children LOVE using a bokashi bin.