What do you tell your kids about the cost of food? Do you use the old “Finish your plate, there are starving kids in Africa” line? Is that the only knowledge that they have about what it costs to eat? Do they know what a privilege it is if they get 3 square meals per day and what the impact is of the waste?
When I was in chef school, one of my instructors carefully showed us how to cut the perfect mirepoix of carrots, celery and onions. He stood back and watched as students toiled over peeling and trim and getting good at knife skills. Only, it wasn’t the knife skill we were being tested on. At the end of the class, he made us lift up our garbage bins and weigh the waste. We were marked lower for the more trimmings we had in the bin. It was a great lesson in what costs money.
Most households in Canada waste $40 per week in food – either table scraps or uneaten food that is left to rot in the fridge. For many families on social assistance or living at or below the poverty line, that’s the amount of money they have to spend on 6 full meals. That is 2 whole days worth of food! We can do better!
Here are some tips to help your kids see that food waste is just as wasteful as leaving on lights or not recycling:
- Get them to cook with you and place all peeling and scrapings in freezer bags to make broth
- Collect bones from the table and add them to a stock pot to boil for soup
- Play “store” and give them stickers to price and stock the shelves in the pantry. Show them the realistic cost of each can or jar well before they can absorb the information
- Set a budget for “treats and snacks” one bag of chips per week, one sugar cereal... anything that is empty calories can be in your “I won’t pay money for this” spotlight!
- For older kids, challenge them to make a meal each week for the family that costs no more than $3 per person (eggs, beans, soup, lentils, rice...are all good cheap staples)
- Play the “weigh the green bin” trick and see if you can reduce how much goes in there as a family
- Serve meals family style on platters so each kid only takes what they will reasonably eat and less gets thrown out
Do you have anything to add? How do you gently guide kids to value food?
About the Author:
Theresa Albert is a Food Communications Specialist and Toronto Personal Nutritionist. She is @theresaalbert on twitter and found daily at www.myfriendinfood.com