Top tips on how to get kids interested in food waste

Posted by Rob Smyth | 05/05/2017 | Category: Food

Do your kids complain that they don’t like what you have served them for dinner? Do they take one bite out of a banana and leave the rest? Do you find yourself scraping the leftovers into the bin? Help your family develop good eating and food waste habits.

There are three kinds of food waste: not finishing food on the plate, waste from food preparation (like peelings and stalks) and food that is safe to eat but is thrown out because it has passed its best before date. Here are our tips to help your children value their food.

Not finishing food on their plate:

• Involve the children in planning the week’s meals and allow them to include some of their favourites. If they have had a hand in choosing their food, they are more likely to eat it. However, they do need to agree to try other things so their diet doesn’t become boring or less balanced.
• For one week, do a little experiment…save any food they don’t eat in a bag and keep it in the fridge. At the end of the week, show them how much food they wasted. Multiply that by 52 and they can imagine how much food and money they can waste in a year!
• Make sure they actually feel hungry for a meal. Limit snacks and try not to allow any in the hour before a main meal.
• Chop up fruit and veg as they will eat more if there are bite-sized pieces. The remainder can then be popped in the fridge of freezer to eat later or to use in smoothies.
• Take them shopping with you and make them aware of the cost of different foods e.g. “That item costs 2 weeks’ pocket money”.
• Visit a farm to learn about crops and animals or even just plant a few herb seeds in a pot on the windowsill, so they learn how long it takes to produce food for their plate.

Combating waste food from preparation:

• Find ways to use parts of fruit and veg that you usually throw away. Turn potato peelings into crisps - sprinkle with salt and pepper and pop them in the oven. Broccoli stalks are often wasted but make up half the vegetable portion you have bought. Use them in soup, cut them into slices and grill them or boil them up to make vegetable stock (this goes for most discarded veg parts).
• You can’t always use everything, but you can explain what happens to the food when we throw it away and start your own compost bin. 

Food that has passed its best before date:

• One day each week, have a leftovers night and get everyone involved in making a buffet-style meal from what’s left. You’ll be surprised what you can come up with and you might even use that tin of food that’s been hiding in the back of the cupboard all this time!

About The Author: Rob Smyth

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