Growing up in a small family of 4, I don’t remember food waste being much of an issue. My sister and I had a few foods we were keen on, however, we ate just about everything my mom cooked. I think the only thing I didn’t like was Shepherd’s Pie; it’s always been too dry for me.
With 5 kids, my life is different. Some of my kids are willing to try foods, but others have a negative reaction to foods which is simply a part of their temperament. I’ve watched my oldest son, who always had a strong negative reaction to change and new things, outgrow his negativity to some extent as his taste buds matured. One of my other sons has strong reactions, too, though if he gets to make the food, he’s more interested in trying it.
All these different reactions can make for food waste in our kitchen. If I try a new recipe that none of the kids like, I often end up eating it for lunch or we’ll serve it again on Leftover Night.
Minimizing Food Waste
- We try not to attempt too many new foods and recipes at once. I read somewhere that it can take as many as 30 introductions before some kids are willing to eat new foods. At that rate, it could potentially take a year for a child to like certain vegetables. That has happened to use. My daughter used to dislike almost all vegetables. Now she’s more willing to try new ones, and she’ll eat certain ones like roasted broccoli without the usual fuss.
- We serve smaller portions. I would rather have a request for seconds and thirds than have to throw out something covered in ketchup because I know no one will eat it. It’s also easier to throw out oversalted food when they’re in small, to-try portions. Some foods can’t be salvaged.
- We encourage our kids to offer up what they can’t or won’t eat at the table. Someone may never like potatoes, but they’ll eat the beef that another child isn’t interested in. The side benefit to this is fewer people are leaving the table to get seconds in the kitchen.
- I always try to re-use unwanted food in other ways. For example, if a child doesn’t want to finish their apple, I would offer it cut up with peanut butter on it, or I might cook it in a little water and put it on oatmeal. If I can’t think of anything immediately, I will freeze the food for a later time.
- We don’t offer substitute foods like a slice of bread or applesauce. Usually, a child decides they don’t like something when we’re sitting down at the table. To prevent extra work on the parent’s part, we emphasize the strategies above and make it clear that we did our job by putting food on the plates and it’s the children’s job to eat the food or not. There’s always breakfast the next morning. If our family were smaller, we probably would allow bread as a replacement for not eating dinner.
How Do You Prevent Food Waste in Your Family, Small or Big?
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