We’ve been working hard on reducing our food waste and are a lot better than what we used to be (although there is probably room for improvement!). But one area where we really struggle with, as parents, is dealing with toddler leftovers.
Our local council don’t offer food waste collections (although I have heard through the grapevine that they will next year). We do compost all of our vegetable peelings and raw food waste, but leftover cooked food is a bit of a problem.
Toddlers and young kids are notoriously fussy eaters, and although our daughter isn’t as fussy as some (although she does have her moments!), she doesn’t always finish whats on her plate. I try to reuse what I can to a point – however I draw the line at half chewed food or food that has already been reheated and then not eaten. I feel so guilty at throwing it in the bin when there is probably something that can be done with it.
Typical lunchtime leftover – uneaten omelette
When I was little my mum wouldn’t make me leave the table until I had eaten everything on the plate. I can vividly remember being about six and sitting there for what felt like hours trying to eat some golden wonder potatoes which I absolutely hated (and still do!), in tears and gagging with every bite. Have you had golden wonder potatoes before? They are very dry and floury, and my mum used to boil them for us even though Wikipedia says you shouldn’t boil them! I still feel sick at even the very mention of them and their vile dryness!
On top of this, my primary school favoured the same approach. You weren’t allowed to go outside and play until you had eaten everything. My school used to serve disgusting hamburgers (aah, the eighties, when hamburgers were considered nutritious meals for children!) – consequently, until switching to vegetarianism, I was probably the only meat-eating young person who did not like burgers! I also have terrible associations with rice pudding and anything similar.
While my parents and school were only doing what they thought was best for me at the time, I don’t like that I’ve got such bad feelings associated with some foods because of this approach. I’ve only relatively recently started eating cauliflower after many many years of avoiding it like the plague.
Consequently we have quite a relaxed approach to my daughter’s eating. We provide her with nutritious food and let her eat as much or as little as she likes. While I hope this will help avoid future food hangups, it’s not great for our food waste situation!
So parents who have been there before, how do (or did) you cut down on your kid’s food waste? Offer food in smaller portions? Reduce snacking? Or do you just accept it as necessary waste? Or perhaps we’re being too liberal – do you insist they clear their plate?
Something I am interested in is bokashi. I found this article on bokashi quite useful – has anyone else had a good or bad experience with it?
I’d love to hear your thoughts on kids and food waste. Perhaps you’re a clear your plate proponent? Or is it just me or do you avoid certain foods after being made to eat them as a kid?