Everyone with kids knows there are two things certain during the school holidays, a.) you need loads of ideas on how to keep your children entertained (especially this year as most of us have used up our local free ideas during lock-down) and b.) your food shopping bill will skyrocket!
Children seem to go from eating three meals a day to viewing your kitchen as one constant grazing table! Especially, if they feel they have nothing better to do. However, this often leads to uneaten dinners and half-opened snacks, creating the dreaded food waste.
So the summer holidays can lend themselves as a great time to introduce to your children a handful of ideas of how to fight food waste. It will help to give them a concept of the value of food, both monetarily and environmentally and why food waste is a problem.
UK families have been working hard to reduce their food waste during lock-down, however, we still waste an average of £470 worth of food per family each year – so getting the whole household involved in the food waste fight from an early age is really important.
Children’s naturally curious nature means that they are open to learning about topics like the environment. They have probably covered topics at school such as the ocean and plastic and habitats for animals and realize the importance of protecting our planet. So they could be your greatest ally in fighting food waste in your home once they realize the impact that food waste has on the planet.
1. Hand Over Portion Control To Kids
Whilst it is tempting to fill our children’s plates to ensure they are well-fed, we often overestimate the amount they will eat. So where possible it can be useful to let them help themselves to food and control their own portion sizes.
2. Get Kids Cooking
Take a look at your fridge together and ‘russell up’ tasty dinner or treats from the contents of your fridge – Things like omelets and pancakes which can be filled with any number of foods, savory or sweet, are fun and quick to make, and put the children in control.
Find a recipe for healthy biscuits or cupcakes – that will make their afternoon. When they understand the effort behind food preparation they will be less likely to waste it….and appreciate your efforts at mealtime a little more!
3. Set Snack Times
Children will often ‘snack’ out of habit or boredom, which then often leads to dinners being thrown away, so try to limit snacks to set times – rather than a rolling buffet. They will then look forward to those snack breaks.
4. Time for Picnics
Kids love the fun and freedom of eating outside and a picnic can be a great way to use up items left in the fridge at the end of the week. An odd couple of slices of ham, a piece of cheese, some hard-boiled eggs, those olives that have been lurking in the fridge for a few days – all make great picnic finger foods. Let the children choose and pack the items and head to the park.
5. Start A Compost Bin
If your local authority doesn’t collect your food waste, get yourself a compost bin. Or even better make it into a summer craft ideas and make your own fairly simply.
The children can have responsibility for separating the food waste – which will give them a good concept of what’s being wasted. Add a plastic and paper bin to separate packaging.
6. Put Up Bird Feeder
A bird feeder house is easily installed on the balcony or in the garden. Get your kids to collect all the bread crumbs, dried bread slices, uneaten end and feed them to the birds. It will start a whole new hobby of birdwatching. Give all the birds that come a name and read about them in the encyclopedia. You can make your own very simply here.
7. Get Kids Involved In Shopping
It’s really important to keep a good inventory of the items you have at home and a clear shopping list when you hit the supermarkets.
One way to do this is to use an app such as CozZo. Older children will love using our scanner feature to zap the bar codes of the items you have in the fridge/freezer and pantry to build your ‘At Home’ list. Or taking pictures of their favorite brand of cereals, so mummy/daddy doesn’t get it wrong again.
Each mealtime they can then take it in turns to swipe the items that are used up and add them to the shopping list of your items to buy the following week.
They can also help in the supermarket by being custodians of the list and ticking items off as you add them to your basket.
The food waste fight really is one for the whole family. If we start young children being aware of the issues and building healthy food habits, it can only be a good thing for their future.
Ask your kids to come up with their own ideas on how they can waste less food. Start now. Make the most of the holidays.