Children, and adults, can be very fussy when it comes to what they eat, this can produce a large amount of food waste, as uneaten meals get thrown into the bin. As children grow, they should be able to try a number of different foods, but this doesn’t mean they are going to like everything they try.

In order to be sustainable, we need to reduce the amount of food we waste, below we have put together a list of tips on how you can help your child reduce the amount of food they waste at meal times:

Plan your meals together
Sit with your child/children, and put a plan in place for your meals each week. This will also help you to reduce food waste, as you will be able to write a shopping list that will prevent you from buying unnecessary items.

See our article on Meal Planning and Shopping Lists, to download our free meal planner.

Cook together
Preparing a meal together can help to prevent fussiness, especially in children. Kids like to get involved and they love to cook. They are also more likely to try something new if they have helped to prepare and cook it. This is also a great way to find out which new foods they like and don’t like.

Talk about where their food comes from
It may be a good idea to discuss where their food has come from, this will help them to understand the importance of not wasting food. If your child doesn’t want to eat meat, explaining why eating meat is not very sustainable may help you to figure out which vegan or vegetarian meals you would like to try.

Grow your own food together
If possible, grow your own fruit and vegetables. This can help with those fussy eaters that avoid their fruit and veggies. Growing their own food gives them a sense of pride and children are much more willing to eat something they have grown themselves.

Don’t force them to eat things
Many people believe that you get what you are given, and this frame of mind isn’t very sustainable. In some cases, a child will like what you are giving them to eat but will refuse to eat it. They are just being plain fussy. However, in some cases, fussy children aren’t eating a part of your meal because they just don’t like it. If you continue to give your child this food it is going to keep ending up being uneaten and will be creating waste. Try adapting your meal, such as using a different vegetable, or leaving that item off their plate. We don’t suggest cooking an entirely different meal for your fussy eater, but there may be a way for you all to enjoy the same meal.

Limit the number of snacks
Sometimes children are fussy because they just aren’t hungry. If they are snacking throughout the day, then they won’t want to eat the food you have prepared. Most of the times it will end in a tantrum and the food ending up in the bin. Limiting snacks will mean that they will have an appetite when they sit down to eat a meal, meaning empty plates.

Check you portion sizes
It can be very easy to put too much on a plate. Give children smaller portions, with less on their plate, they are more likely to eat it all. As they won’t be overwhelmed with the mountain of food. If you make extra food and if your child enjoys the meal, they can always ask for seconds if they are still hungry. It is better to add more, than throw away uneaten food off the plate. Any food left over can be frozen and eaten another day.