According to the United States Department of Agriculture food waste is estimated at between 30-40 percent of the food supply. Registered dietitian Susan Bowerman offers her expert advice on how parents can serve as good role models for their kids when it comes to food waste and developing healthy eating habits by meal prepping and quality time together.
- Teach kids about food waste. Don't let the expiration date spook you! A sell-by date is a date that food has to be pulled from store shelves. However, adequately stored foods can last a lot longer. Milk, for instance, can last another week past that date, and eggs could last another three. Even perishable food, like ground beef, is good for a couple of days after you buy it, assuming you store it properly. A use-by date is suggested for best flavor or quality, but foods are safe to eat after this date.
- Involve Family in Meal Planning. Take time as a family to inventory your food and plan your meals for the week. Everyone, including your kids, will feel included, reduce food waste, and save money.
- Shop Only For What You Really Need. Buy only what you can consume before the food spoils. Yes, larger packages are usually a better value than smaller ones, but not if the food is perishable and you end up tossing most of it. Then, cook only what you know you'll eat, or have plans for your leftovers. You can use them for another meal, pack them up for lunch or freeze them for a quick meal later in the month.
- Encourage Healthy Recipe Creations. Cooking can be a creative experience. Once kids have some basic skills and learn to follow recipes, they should be encouraged to get creative. Start with a simple recipe. For example, a smoothie or shake made with flavored protein powder, such as Protein Drink Mix in Peanut Cookie flavor can be a delicious snack option that mixes easily with milk. Allow kids to experiment by adding different fruits, vegetables, spices or extracts. Once they've come up with their own recipes, many kids enjoy creating their own recipe file.
- Make Cooking Together Fun Quality Time. Spending time together in the kitchen can be fun and relaxing for both kids and adults. Many kids don't need much coaxing to join you in the kitchen, so use this time to enjoy each other's company and talk about how good—and good for you—your meal is going to be.
Written by CSSD, CSOWM for The Healthy Moms Magazine and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.