Food waste, like over-consumption, is one of the environmental scourges of today’s society. In fact, according to a UN report, around one in three items of food in the world ends up in the garbage can. Throwing away food intended for our consumption is a daily struggle, both in families and in communities. Children are the consumers of today, but above all of tomorrow, and are increasingly aware of the need to reduce waste. Nevertheless, the measures taken to put an end to food waste are not always enough. So you’re wondering how you can achieve zero waste with your toddlers? Freshopp explains! Here are our tips and tricks for encouraging children to reduce food waste.
Involve the little ones in all meal preparation tasks
Drawing up the weekly menu with the children
To take up the anti-food waste challenge as a family, don’t hesitate to make a list of the week’s meals with your children. Before planning your menus, take an inventory of your cupboards to prioritize the use of foods with a short best-before date. Children love to play detective, and you can get them involved by entrusting them with this mission of the utmost importance! For example, to make this activity more fun, they can keep a weekly logbook in which they can closely monitor expiration dates.
Drawing up your menus for the week helps you avoid buying ingredients you don’t need or don’t have time to cook, but also anticipates leftovers and reuse to avoid throwing them away. Encouraging your children to help you draw up the weekly menu also means they can express a wish for a dish that you can program for a particular day of the week. It’s a great anti-waste tip, because there shouldn’t be much left on the plate when they’re ready to enjoy their favourite dish!
Preparing the family shopping list
Once the menu list has been drawn up, it’s time for the shopping list. Involving your children in this stage will make them feel responsible for the amount of food they need. Making a shopping list as a family also saves time and helps you think of everything. Once you’re at the supermarket, just pick up the food you need to prepare the menu you’ve decided on together. If your children feel involved and concerned, they won’t hesitate to express themselves and want to accompany you to the store.
👀 A little extra tip: don’t go shopping with a hungry tribe, you might end up buying food that wasn’t noted on your list!
Transforming leftover food with your child
Naturally, children prefer to eat food they already know and enjoy, so you’ll need to learn how to transform their leftovers. Various techniques exist for cooking surplus food, without children realizing they’re eating the same thing twice. For example, in the form of stir-fries, croquettes, by finding original presentations or incorporating their favorite food.
It is also essential to diversify and vary children’s diets, in order to develop their taste and palate. The best way to get them to eat everything is to get them involved in meal preparation. This allows them to handle food before it reaches their plates, without the pressure of having to taste it. They’ll be more likely to dare eat it when they come to the table, because they’ll know what it is!
Teaching children about product life cycles
Explaining the product life cycle to your children is a very important step in helping them understand the impact of each stage on the environment. To do this, you can use a range of age-appropriate tools tailored to your children’s preferences. For example, visuals, instructional videos and educational games.
This awareness-raising phase is essential, because to get involved, children need to understand why you’re doing this. They are not necessarily aware of the resources their favorite foods need to be produced, nor of the means required to process wasted food waste.
It’s important to know that bio-waste accounts for 30% of our household waste (according toADEME), even though it can be recycled into compost. The use of a kitchen waste composter raises awareness of the need to protect the environment and reduce waste. What’s more, the compost can be reused in the vegetable garden or in the planters tended by the children.
Your little ones are the future of our planet, and educating them about waste management and composting is essential. And, rest assured, once they’re aware of what’s at stake, they’ll be the first to call you to order if you slip up!
Raising children’s awareness of food waste through hands-on activities
Use a range of tools to address the issue of global loss and environmental protection
There are many ways to talk to children about food loss around the world, from arts and crafts to reading. Obviously, these options will differ according to their age group.
For example, from 0 to 6 years old, you can help them make posters to promote and teach good practices. Little ones observe and reproduce by imitation, and by making these kinds of creations, they’ll get involved and adopt the right gestures from an early age.
For older children, from 6 years old to teenagers, don’t hesitate to clearly verbalize the figures for food waste, using audiovisual aids, educational games, teaching manuals and anti-waste applications.
Encourage children to garden at home
To raise your children’s awareness without making them feel guilty, it’s an excellent idea to suggest that they grow a vegetable garden and then cook with your produce! In this way, they see where food comes from, and realize the effort it takes to get food on their plates. This means they’ll be less likely to waste them at mealtimes.
♻️ As an added bonus, they’ll be able to use the compost made from kitchen waste and get a better idea of the recycling chain.
A playful presentation of the issues surrounding food, from production to recycling, will help your children learn about the journey of food. By taking part in gardening, cooking and composting, they’ll be able to limit the creation of waste from an early age, and learn simple ways to reduce food waste. One thing’s for sure, your children will be eager to tell their school friends about their anti-waste adventures, and who knows, maybe the whole canteen will follow suit?
👋 Keep up to date with all the latest anti-waste news on our Facebook page, and don’t hesitate to share your anecdotes and best ideas for fighting food waste!
⏭️ See also: our article dedicated to food waste in France.