Whether or not it complements a zero-waste lifestyle, the anti-waste approach is becoming more and more entrenched in your kitchen on a daily basis. But your steps to end food waste aren’t enough on their own. In charge of the balance: children’s food. Rest assured: it is possible to achieve zero food waste with children. How can you do it? We give you our tips, tricks, and advice to reduce it.
5 tips for zero food waste with children
There is nothing like tips to implement as a family to reach the goal of zero food waste with children. Combining the fight against waste with time for sharing will enchant and convince the most reluctant. Learning the right gestures in a friendly atmosphere will demonstrate the idea that limiting waste is not boring. It’s also a way to get a foot in the door of eco-consumption from a young age.
5 simple daily tips:
1. Please make a list of the week’s meals and the shopping list with your child to involve him/her and make him/her responsible for food.
2. Do a batch cooking session together to help them realize how much time and effort it takes to prepare meals that end up in the garbage.
3. Repurpose leftovers so kids don’t realize they are eating the same thing twice.
4. Limit heavy pre-meal snacks: snacking will inevitably impact the amount left over at the table. Choose raw vegetable sticks or take the leftover apple out of the bee wrap to wait until dinner.
5. Find original presentations for dishes they don’t like and tempting recipes for foods they don’t like, such as chips with organic peelings, the famous French toast with stale bread, etc.
Why not organize a family challenge over several weeks?
Start by measuring the amount wasted in the first week. Set a reduction target to reach. Then involve the children in coming up with ideas to reduce the contents of the trash can. Implement the actions you’ve agreed upon in the following weeks. Finally, re-evaluate your waste and reward your efforts with a family activity.
How do you explain food waste to children?
This is the basis. How can you ask children to get involved in something they are not aware of? Whether young or old, girls or boys, children are more inclined to follow our steps when they understand the reasons and the stakes. However, the extent of food waste is not visible to them. Nor is it a central concern in their childhood world.
So, at what age should we start zeroing out food waste with children? From a young age, feel free to verbalize what you are doing yourself by overacting a bit. Toddlers do not speak but observe, listen, and reproduce by imitation.
Then, at kindergarten age, use small posters at home, as in canteens, to highlight good practices.
Finally, discussing food waste and world hunger will not impact older children the most. However, as the saying goes: a picture is worth a thousand words.
Use visuals to represent the data: a pie chart explains that each year in the world, 1/3 of the food is thrown away while one person out of six suffers from malnutrition.
Or compare food waste to a country: it would then be the 3rd largest in the world after China and the United States.
And finally, use short videos that summarize the facts very well, like the one on the 1 Day, 1 Question channel. Or videos made by schools featuring children.
Also, use educational games: educational kits, a game of tag, etc.
This awareness phase is significant. Once your child is fully aware of the issues at stake, he or she will be the first to call you to order in case of a faux pas!
Discover the life cycle of products
It is also interesting to detail the life cycle of everyday consumer products. Children are not necessarily aware of the resources needed to produce their favorite foods or the means used to treat wasted food waste.
From field to plate and from plate to garbage can, it is also a way to discover that all actors in the food chain are responsible for waste, but some also act at their level. The schools themselves are doing more and more to raise awareness among children through workshops in class and practices to reduce the quantities thrown away in the canteen.
Understanding the notion of hunger
For the child to be a real actor in the process and apply the right anti-waste gestures during meals, he must understand how his body works. When hungry, our eyes tend to be bigger than our stomachs. Moreover, appetite varies from day to day, and tastes change rapidly at this age. So how do you go about it?
Dieticians have a straightforward trick to knowing approximately the portion of vegetables to eat during a meal. It consists of placing your hands in a bowl. Of course, children are still growing and sometimes need extra help, but this is a good base for a first serving. And this method allows children to adopt the right reflexes when in the canteen, for example.
All you have to do is buy storage boxes: small, medium, and large ones, preferably without plastic. The principle is simple: serve yourself a small portion and refill as needed, rather than stalling in front of a too-big plate. And when this happens at home, the reflex to adopt is not to throw away but to save it for later.
The same goes for fruit for breakfast or snacks. A half-eaten apple? Wrap it in a bee wrap to prevent it from drying out.
What do you think?