Remember those tricky children I mentioned last time? Well, I am still positive mine are not the only ones. So if you are also blessed to have sometimes persnickety and other times ravenous kids, you are in luck! In this installment of Food Saver Friday I am sharing some of the tried and almost always true tricks we use to turn our kids from persnickety nibblers to ravenous plate cleaners.
Persnickety Eaters to Plate Cleaners – How to Raise Food Frugal Kids
I don’t know about you, but my kids are kids. Sometimes they eat. Sometimes they don’t. And it is hard to gauge on any given day which they will be – persnickety eaters or plate cleaners. But as part of my 2016 goal to reduce the food wasted by this family, I knew we were going to have to come up with some clever ways to reign in the kid-created waste. Because seriously – it was getting out of hand.
Tom and I went to the drawing board, brainstorming some actionable ideas in an attempt to raise mindful, more food frugal kids. We began implementing what we came up with during the first part of January. And while I cannot say that these methods stopped our kids from ever wasting a single crumb, I can tell you that we have seen better mealtime appetites and far less waste over the course of the past six months.
So, how are we raising our kids to be food frugal? Well, we…
Cut back on snacks.
This has most definitely without a doubt been the most difficult to accomplish. Our kids were (and sometimes still are) notorious for snacking and sneaking snacks all. day. long. This day-long food free-for-all left (and sometimes still leaves) them completely uninterested in eating come meal time.
But through a series of snack food stashing and explaining why it isn’t okay to waste food until we were blue in the face, we finally got our little sneaky snack fiends under control… mostly.
Control their portion sizes.
I know this sounds like a no-brainer, right? But when you cute little five year old looking up at you with his huge beautiful blue eyes saying, “Mom, may I please have two? I’d really like to have two.” You don’t think twice. You dish him two. But the fact of the matter is that his little tum simply cannot handle two of whatever it was he so politely asked for. So we dish the kids smaller portions with the promise of second when the first helping is gone.
It’s our take on a rule Tom and I both had growing up – “take all you want, but eat all you take.” It gives them the freedom to have more to eat, or to be excused from the table when they are full without wasting quite as much.
Give them choices.
Let’s face it, every palate is different. We all have different tastes, including kids. So letting kids make choices on what they eat just makes good sense… within good reason. I am not a short order cook, but I do try to be mindful of the fact that Tripp isn’t fond of peanut butter, ketchup, or onions and that Ten would prefer not to eat burritos. She loves the meat, just not wrapped in the tortilla…
All that said, we also have the rule in our house that you cannot say that you do not like something without ever having actually tasted it. If you take two bites of something and still don’t like it then you don’t have to eat it. This rule applies to everyone who dines in our home – not just the kids.
Order what we like.
When we go out to eat, Tom and I usually order lighter meals for ourselves and suggest options that we like to the kids. That way if to-go boxes aren’t feasible, we can clean the kids’ plates and no food gets wasted. This has worked out really well for us, except when ordering the lighter meal backfires. Because sometimes, the kids clean their own plates, leaving us feeling slightly hungry with nothing to help them finish.
It goes without saying, but I’m going to say it anyway, kids are kids. These things take consistency to work and even then, they do not work 100% of the time. Our kids still sneak snacks, ditch their dinner, and pretend to not like something we’ve seen them eat a hundred times because – kids are kids. Despite the occasional slip up on our part, or theirs, we have made strides in the right direction. And we are becoming more food frugal as a family.
Next Week on Food Saver Friday
To refrigerate the apple, or not to refrigerate the apple – that is the question. Next time on Food Saver Friday, we will delve into how to properly store perishable foods such as meats, fruits, and veggies. In the meantime, if you have questions feel free to leave them here in the comments, or shoot us an email using the Contact Me page. And if you’ve missed any of the food saving goodness, click here to catch up.