Anyone who manages a home on a budget and tries to be green and eco-friendly will join me in agreeing that controlling food wastage can make a big difference to both the planet and your pocket. As grown-ups, we can do this easily enough; however for toddlers and preschoolers, especially finicky ones, the concept is a little tough to grasp. Here are some simple tips to minimize food waste when you have a toddler at the table.
1. Serve Small
Serving a toddler a large portion-size of anything, even a favorite food, can result in a wrinkled up nose and an obstinate “I don’t want this”. I serve small, bite-sized portions. If she wants more, she asks for it. Also, I usually serve three or more foods in her plate – rice/bread, veggies/chicken and lentils. Bite-sized portions of all three are great for a complete meal and add variety to her plate as well.
2. Serve Smart
While my toddler, fortunately for me, is not fussy or picky, she does enjoy food that is shaped differently and a fun mealtime. So, sandwich stars or rice towers win favor and she laps them all up easily. Also, she’s incredibly possessive about her plate. It’s a sweet, little sectioned plate by Super Healthy Kids (see my review here) and it makes serving her three different things super-easy. So, investing in a separate, small toddler-sized plate can not only help reduce portion size but also, add a dash of independence and individuality to mealtimes.
3. Serve Later
Sometimes, a toddler just ain’t hungry. I learnt this when my daughter refused her favorite pasta dish at dinnertime, followed by a vehement “No” when I continued to offer it to her. So, step back, just cover the dish and put it into the refrigerator. Offer it later. Odds are they’re just not in the mood for food.
4. Don’t Bulk-Buy Toddler Favorites
Is a certain breakfast cereal a favorite with your toddler? Buy that, but not in bulk. It is super-easy for a toddler to change favorites and if you’ve bought four cartons of a favorite cereal, chances are you’ll be stuck eating it till it gets over.
5. Deal with Food Waste
So, say you try all of this and you still have food and produce that gets wasted. Deal with it. Overripe fruit? Turn it into cake, muffins or smoothies. Leftover cooked food? Reinvent it. Cooked veggies can be turned into cutlets or kebobs. Biggie at Lunch in a Box has some good ideas on dealing with food scraps along with some great recipes with leftovers.
How do you deal with food waste with your preschooler? What do you do to prevent throwing away uneaten food?
Photo Credit: Emran Kassim