Food waste is a massive problem in our homes! In the EU around 50% of food waste comes from households and it is costing the average UK family around £700 a year. Aside from costing us money, food waste is also bad for the planet. We need to stop wasting that food right away, reduce our impact on the environment and put our money to better use!
Reducing food waste is often easier said than done though, especially when you have kids. With the really young ones, sometimes it seems food goes everywhere except in their mouths. As they get older they might tell you one day that something is their absolutely favourite food in the world and then point blank refuse to eat it when you make the heinous mistake of trying to feed it to them again another time!
Kids are naturally fussy, it is a survival mechanism, they prefer to eat familiar foods that they know are safe and can be very suspicious of new foods. Some kids are a bit more adventurous and bigger eaters than others, but with most there ends up being food waste of some kind and to a certain extent it is all part of the learning process, but there are ways you can reduce food waste with kids and here are a few tips how to do that:
1. Weigh or measure out portions of things like rice and pasta according to their age range/ appetites before you cook them.
2. Only put a little on their plate at a time (or get them to serve themselves a little at a time) and let them know they can always have more when they have finished what they have on their plate.
3. Try to avoid giving them snacks or filling drinks like juice or milk too close to meal times as they only have small tummies (well the younger ones do) and then might find it hard to eat their meal.
4. Get them involved in deciding what to have at meal times. Give them a choice of two things and get their buy in. They are less likely to refuse to eat what you made for them, if they chose it!
5. Keep offering them small tastes of foods that they wouldn’t usually eat, to familiarise them with those foods. They might not like them straight away, but eventually they may do and the wider range of food they like the less food they will waste as they get older.
For food that can’t be rescued, get a compost bin or a worm bin (if you have access to a garden) and teach your kids about separating out their food waste. If they are a fan of worms they will enjoy feeding them and seeing how full the compost heap can get with them!
For most families it will be really hard to eliminate food waste altogether and it is important for kids to have a chance to play with new foods before they will get to know and love them. Reducing your food waste is a more realistic, practical and achievable goal, that will benefit both your wallet and the environment!
Zoe Morrison blogs over at www.ecothriftyliving.com, runs a friendly Facebook group for people who want to reduce their food waste – https://www.facebook.com/groups/reduceyourfoodwaste/ and is currently writing a book – The Ecothrifty Kitchen (how to save money and the environment by reducing waste in your kitchen).