Here I’m sharing tips to reduce food waste while not mindlessly eating for moms.
I’ve noticed a trend recently. As Baby T is down to nursing only once a day, that means she’s eating a whole lot more solids. She eats three good meals a day and almost always a snack. And the trend I noticed was… I kept eating her scraps.
You Don’t Have to Eat Your Kid’s Scraps
I don’t think I’m alone in this. I’ve talked to a lot of moms and it’s pretty common to either not make yourself a meal, and instead just eat what they don’t finish, or constantly graze on your kid’s scraps even if you aren’t hungry.
I get it. I mean of course I get it – I have been part of the problem, too! I don’t really want it to go to waste. Ya know, the edge of her toasted whole wheat tortilla and cheese that’s a little too crispy for her little gums, the end of the cheese stick she doesn’t finish, the crust of her bread. The problem is… it all adds up. I don’t know about you but I probably don’t need an extra 100-200 calories a day from food I had no intention of eating when I prepared it.
Tips to Avoid Mindlessly Eating When It’s Your Kids’ Turn to Eat
In my experience, when most adults snack between meals it’s either because they aren’t eating enough at their meals or because they’re eating for reasons other than hunger: stress, boredom, wanting a break, etc. On the contrary, kids have little tummies! And often do need snacks between some meals. So how can we, as the adults getting their food ready, avoid mindlessly eating when it’s their turn to eat?
Here are some helpful tips to avoid mindlessly eating while your kids eat:
- Take a personal “hunger inventory” before you start pulling food out. Seeing food can sometimes be a visual cue that makes you want to eat, regardless of your actual hunger.
- If you are hungry, make your own plate. Let their food be their food.
- If you are going to eat, sit down. Make it be an eating event if it is going to be an eating event, not a “stand-and-graze-on-this-while-I-do-15-other-tasks”. I know, I know, you have zero time. But even taking 5 minutes to actually sit and eat can make a serious impact on your mindfulness around food.
What to Do When Your Kid Doesn’t Finish Her Meal or Snack
Okay so we talked about how to prepare yourself so you have more mindfulness when it’s your kid’s time to eat, now let’s talk about what we can do when your kids don’t finish everything on their plates (aside from popping it in your own mouth!).
Sometimes It Does Need to Be Tossed
Let me start with… sometimes it just needs to be thrown away. And that’s okay.
I get it. This is the hard part. “BUT I DON’T WANT TO WASTE IT!”
I hear you. But, is not “wasting” the last 6 bites of soggy waffle more important or is your overall health and mindfulness around food more important? Because let’s be real, you can’t donate those half-chewed, toast edges to the local food pantry.
I’m not saying to be wasteful, but yes… probably the soggy cereal just needs to go. If it’s something that won’t keep well (gets soggy or dried up) or could be a food safety hazard by keeping, please channel your inner Marie Kondo and thank it for its service on its way to the garbage or compost bin.
Start with Smaller Portions
One method to reduce food waste is to start your kid(s) with smaller portions. I like to pull out what I think Baby T will eat and place it on a separate, clean plate, and then I dip her tray up from there. Depending on your kid’s age, it might be wise to prepare only half a piece of bread, half a sandwich, 2 strawberries, a few pieces of broccoli, etc. If you dip them up as they go, refilling when needed from a separate, clean plate it’s easier to save what’s left over rather than hope to salvage what’s become mushy from sticky hands. Sometimes having too much food on your kid’s plate or tray can also feel overwhelming for the child; some kids eat better when smaller portions are set out for them.
Often Times It Can Be Saved
More often than not, your kids’ leftovers can be saved! I regularly save a small ramekin of Greek yogurt, already rinsed berries (don’t rinse the whole pint, they’ll mold more quickly, but a few from a previous meal are fine!), chicken chopped in finger-sized pieces, beans, guacamole, a burrito half, part of a cheese stick (keep the wrapper or place in a Ziploc and remove the air, you might need to trim the end exposed to the air if using the original wrapper).
The best part about saving leftovers is you already have something ready for the next meal!
If you have older kids, this is also a great tactic. A friend of mine said if they didn’t finish their dinner they were to save it in the fridge and that’s what they had to eat when they got hungry again between meals.
Ideally, you don’t “make” your kids completely clear their plates. I’m not a proponent of what I call the “Clean Your Plate Club”. By forcing your kids to eat everything on their plate, you teach them to override their own hunger/full signals at meals. Having them save what they don’t finish can help minimize food waste and teach the value of a meal, so your kids aren’t piling their plates a mile high when dinner rolls around.
You Can Do This
You can do this! First of all, you’re a rockstar mom. Here you are keeping SMALL HUMANS ALIVE. Secondly, don’t sweat it. It’s not going to be perfect. You probably aren’t going to stop eating off their plates indefinitely; a lot of it is probably habit. But, starting with bringing some awareness to it and a game plan to create more mindfulness around your own eating experiences so you are in the driver’s seat will help you be a better food role model. Happy noshing!
Do you have a tendency to eat from your kids plates?
How do you create more mindfulness around your eating experiences?
Have you noticed more grazing since becoming a mom?