Little kids are hungry, but often times their eyes are bigger than their tiny tummies! It is a good idea to teach kids how to appreciate their food and reduce waste from a young age. Here’s to the next generation of squatches!
Here is Sustainable Connections 9 tips for cooking with kids.
- Serve them tiny portions: Kids can be so picky! And parents want their kids to try eating new things, but studies show it can take 15 times for a child to eat something before they accept it. So give a small portion of the new food and see if they enjoy it. Remember, you can always feed them more!
- Feed them your food: Save time, energy, and untouched leftovers by feeding your child the same food you eat! Just make sure bits are small and palatable for the youngsters. If you have a child that is not a particularly big fan of eating, cook a smaller portion of food for yourself and suffice your appetite by finishing your child’s food.
- Limit snack time. The less your child chows down on a pre-dinner snack, the hungrier they will be when they sit down at the table.
- Utilize the tiny portions that have been left behind. A small amount of veggies left on the plate can be thrown into a stir fry, or any extra orange juice left in their cup could be used to help blend your smoothie the next morning. It seems silly, but small efforts add up!
- Finger foods are a smart way to let your child learn independently. If your child eats finger foods, they are less likely to waste food because the portions are smaller. And it gives the child a change to learn how to feed themselves!
- It may be smart to plan a week of meals if you have children. Planning ahead instead of deciding day of can help reduce food waste, allows busy families to make fewer grocery trips, and saves time and gas money. If you aren’t a big planner, there are plenty of apps and online resources that make it really simple to plan meals ahead. If a week seems too daunting to do all at once, start with three of your busiest days and stick to it!
- For families with really little children (especially if they are picky) give their foods silly names. Having fun with food may encourage children to clean their plates and in turn reduce food waste. Carrots are good for vision, so name them “x-ray vision carrots,” and see if that encourages picky eaters to try new things!
- Encourage children to bring home the food that they don’t eat at school in hopes to reduce edible food ending up in the trash. Make sure the portions are not too large so that food does not end up in the waste bin.
- Last, teach your children about food from an early age. If they learn about the value of food, what happens to food if it ends up in the landfill, and how food is grown, they will have a larger appreciation for the things that they eat. If you can fit it into your busy schedule, take your children to visit local farms, keep a garden or a few small plants at home, plan and cook together, explain where food goes when it is thrown away and discuss the cost of different foods at the grocery store.
So, when it comes to kids, waste may happen. But we hope you take these trips, apply them to your family and say hello to zero waste! Enjoy eating!