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explaining to four year olds why we don't waste food - Page 2

post #21 of 32
Thread Starter 

This has been an interesting discussion!

 

We have a gratitude reading we say before meals. Pulling back from the food waste issue, I think our family needs further discussion on gratitude and respect. I realize too, this isn't something they're going to get a grasp on immediately, but will be   a process.

 

I do like introducing the idea that if we run out of an item, we're not getting more until the next  month. I have been playing around with a) serving less food and b) buying less produce. Maybe this is new or maybe I wasn't paying attention before, but ds has mentioned a few times that he doesn't want to eat all that is on his plate as soon as it is in front of him. Even though it could mean more time in the kitchen, starting off with smaller portions will lead to less waste. I've been making more frequent trips to the market for produce instead of buying a lot of it at once. Also, being patient and explaining, calmly, as they are in the process of wasting - ie, I had washed strawberries on the counter last night. Ds took one, looked at it and announced he was throwing it away bc it had a green spot. Explaining that we can cut that off, that is a natural part of the plant etc.

post #22 of 32

I'm not sure my kids fully get it at 5 & 7 but that'sno reason for me not to try and explain it :lol

 

Growing our own vegetables has sparked lots of discussions for us, how long the food takes to grow, what equipment we need and what we need to do to look after the plants.

 

Playing at shops also sparks a lot of discussions, how much they can buy for a certain amount and having to choose between two items. I always feel that we could have discussed this in real life shopping trips, but frankly keeping them both in sight and getting the shopping keeps me quite busy enough in the supermarket! I do a lot of "thinking out loud" though, we'll use half of this bag of beans with meal x, what could we do with the other half so we don't waste it? If we buy pears, apples and banans today we won't eat them all before they go off, which shall we chose. They are starting to get quite into that, and hey If I can get them to meal plan for the leftovers they may just eat it!

 

We also talk about reusing and recylind things, buying items used and think carefully about whether we need them or not.In terms of food waste I'm not sure this helps, DSs just says "it's not wasted mummy you can put it in the compost!"

post #23 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by LaughingHyena View Post


We also talk about reusing and recylind things, buying items used and think carefully about whether we need them or not.In terms of food waste I'm not sure this helps, DSs just says "it's not wasted mummy you can put it in the compost!"

LOL

post #24 of 32

I think some kids will grasp the Food = Money + Time + Work, but some won't. I have been actively trying to reduce my grocery bill, eat better and cut back on food waste. I do talk about it with the kids frequently ("We don't waste", explaining the relationship between money and goods). With the older kids, if they waste or break something I usually have them pay for it - for example my 9 year old recently dumped out a bottle of shampoo to 'prove' she had washed her hair. I had her pay me the $3 for the shampoo from her piggy bank. The same child also owes her brother $12 for a toy she broke on purpose...anyway....

 

With the 4 year old, who is going through a picky phase, I do offer choices but only 2.  If he refuses to eat what he picked, there is nothing until the next meal/snack time. With two toddlers, a lot of our lunches are either leftovers (the two year old eats anything) or nibbles - a cheese stick, pb on a tortilla, fruit - any healthy combo really. I don't force the kids to eat, but sometimes I do ask that they at least TRY the food I prepared. I try to be better about offering smaller portions and meal planning to cut back on the waste. I try to get the kids involved in the meal planning, asking them what they would like for dinner or snacks this week.

 

My 4 year old will repeat back the concepts I'm trying to teach him, so I know on some level it's starting to sink in. Oh, I saw this group at a school concert recently...great songs about slow food, good garbage vs bad garbage, locally grown food. Quite catchy. http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0050O8RZQ/ref=ox_sc_act_title_5?ie=UTF8&m=A1WJYDZUFBWVU2

 

We have managed to cut back on our food waste quite a bit by being careful about using the leftovers, either making them into another meal or reheating. Meal planning and careful grocery shopping has helped too. On average this year I've saved about $100 a month with a lot less waste with better meal planning.

 

Good Luck!!
 

post #25 of 32

I explain every chance I get to be grateful, not just for food but for everything. I've been talking to dd about money since she was a toddler. She's still only five. Obviously, she doesn't understand completely but she knows that everything has a cost both in money and time. She knows that we don't approve of wasting anything. 

We've also talked a lot about being healthy and the foods we need to eat for bodies to be strong. It took a while for her to catch on but now even at just 5 y/o she has a pretty good grasp of what we consider good for your body and not. That includes not eating enough or eating too much. It includes specific foods but also that we need to eat a balanced diet. 

My first advice would be to involve your LO in the prep and choosing within a few choices that you want him to have but since you've already done that my advice is to go the other way and take the options away. Not as a punishment but to aid in understanding that food is important, not wasting is important and that choices are a privilege - because they are. Most people throughout history and even now have had very limited choices due to circumstances beyond their control. While a young child may not understand the scope of that, they can understand the basic concept of it. We are incredibly blessed to have the abundance and variety of food we have. I think children need to be reminded of that often because truthfully we forget it often as adults. I know I do. 

Also, do you have the time to read or sit and talk while he eats? When my dd went through a phase like this a couple of years ago, it helped her eat more if I kept her interest on something else. So I would read aloud or tell a story or something and then every so often just say -oh don't forget about your food- and go back to the story. Since the focus was off the food, it took the power struggle away. 

post #26 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by caiesmommy View Post

 

I do agree with this for my kids. They do understand "Sorry we're out of milk until shopping day" talk but to say "Don't waste food or we won't have any" would send my dd into a full on binge mode"

 

I have a big problem also with the "Finish what is on your plate". Thinking that eating food that our bodies don't actually need isn't waste blows my mind. I've been giving my kids less food and I have less waste and then they don't feel like they're being forced to eat so we don't "waste". It really has been the best thing for us

 

nod.gif I apologize if I made it sound that way, sometimes it is hard to express my thoughts (Aspergerian here). We never run out of food since I bulk shop. What I say is more along the lines of "If we run out of milk before shopping day, we won't have any, so make sure not to waste." And every kid is different too. My daughter (Aspie) doesn't get it, but my easy going 4-year old is more agreeable.

 

I have a problem with "Finish your plate" as a blanket statement in general. But when I'm the one serving the food, and I give my kids a slice of ham and 3 cherry tomatoes, yes, I DO expect them to finish their plate. I know that if they don't finish their plate, they will be asking for food in 10 minutes, and that makes me very, very grumpy! winky.gif

 

I think it all really comes down to knowing your kid, figuring out what gets their heart strings and what works for the whole-family dynamic.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by LaughingHyena View Post

Growing our own vegetables has sparked lots of discussions for us, how long the food takes to grow, what equipment we need and what we need to do to look after the plants.

 

We also talk about reusing and recylind things, buying items used and think carefully about whether we need them or not.In terms of food waste I'm not sure this helps, DSs just says "it's not wasted mummy you can put it in the compost!"

 

Kids can relate to that real-life application. thumb.gif

 

The compost comment is too cute! lol.gif

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ilovemygirl View Post

We've also talked a lot about being healthy and the foods we need to eat for bodies to be strong. It took a while for her to catch on but now even at just 5 y/o she has a pretty good grasp of what we consider good for your body and not. That includes not eating enough or eating too much. It includes specific foods but also that we need to eat a balanced diet. 

 

We do this too. Everyday practically. smile.gif

post #27 of 32

I think it's hard to get the concept of money at 4. We tend to talk about avoiding food waste along with avoiding extraneous packaging, making less trash, landfills for trash, and that foods don't "keep" forever, so you can't put food aside from a meal for weeks on end. My 4.5 year old seems to get the less trash/waste=good for the Earth and nature concept more easily than money.

 

We struggled with him wanting every bowl to be filled to the rim, and consequent waste of cereal, etc. along with spilling. That he may have as many bowls of whatever as he will actually eat, but only 1 at a time and not overfilled. Along with the fact that if you go through something faster by spilling it, Mom's not making a special trip just for that, so you're going to have to pick a less-favored breakfast. 

post #28 of 32

I am similar to the other's who have talked to their children about other people not having enough food. I didn't use it as a scare topic, more of a 'this is why mommy is upset when food is wasted' kinda way. I also make sure to give them appropriate portions. Our stomachs are only as big as our fists, so their servings are going to be smaller. I find that natural consequences (you have to eat what you were given before you can get something else to eat) works the best. These are foods he likes, so it's not torture. I'm not going to throw out perfectly good eggs so he can eat a couple bites of apple, only to throw that out when he wants half a banana. 

post #29 of 32

This is probably not the answer you are looking for but it could still get your point across to your children - show them how you do not waste food.  We almost never throw out food in our house.  My dh manages the food and he gives our kids (5 and 7) a little more than they can eat for dinner.  They typically eat about half of everything.  Either I finish eating what is on their plates or I scrape it into a tupperware to take for lunch the next day (the meat is already cut into bite size peices smile.gif).  They can have fruit between meals if they are still hungry.  I am showing them how "we" don't waste food.

post #30 of 32

I think having a garden, and having the kids participate in the garden, goes a long way toward showing them that growing food takes hard work, and therefore it shouldn't be wasted.

post #31 of 32
When I run into any feeding questions, I go and review Ellyn Satter's advice. I have her book Child of Mine, but a brief outline of her work is available on her website:

http://www.ellynsatter.com/how-to-feed-i-24.html

When we are emotionally invested in how much our kids eat (and who isn't, to some degree) it's all to easy to create pressure that kids automatically resist. This can lead to "you can't make me eat" tactics that result in waste.

Even being too flexible can backfire. Positive pressure is when we invest too much into making eating pleasant (i.e. menu planning centered on their likes/dislikes, rewards, cute food, encouraging bites) Kids can sense the pressure to eat, even when we ourselves didn't realize it was there.

A few concrete suggestions, get rid of grazing and try limiting his choices to selection at the dinner table, not at the store or in the kitchen. Provide a few options at the table and let the family serve themselves from serving bowls/platters. Make sure it's food you're willing to eat also, not just "kid food," sit down and eat with the kids, even for snack if you can. Eat without comment, talk about other things. If they make a fuss, just say they don't have to eat it, but it stays on their plate after they choose it. Give them the chance to help put away leftovers, it's a wordless way to get them thinking about where that food goes.

It is painful to throw anything away when you would much rather not waste a bite, but working on their food acceptance is the road to reducing waste. You can guess how much the family will eat without worrying too much about what individuals eat if you refuse to do "custom orders."

I hope you find some of the above useful, Ellyn Satter's book has been a wonderful resource for our family ;-)
post #32 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by DeerMother View Post

I'm happy with how I'm handling the consequences of their actions. '

What I want to know is - how do I explain my reasoning to four year olds? How do we go to the store, pay with a card and they relate that to me working. How do I explain that in our culture everything has a value including food? How do I teach them to be grateful for the things we have and not ask for something different/better/more?

Quote:
Originally Posted by ssantos View Post

This is probably not the answer you are looking for but it could still get your point across to your children - show them how you do not waste food.  We almost never throw out food in our house.  My dh manages the food and he gives our kids (5 and 7) a little more than they can eat for dinner.  They typically eat about half of everything.  Either I finish eating what is on their plates or I scrape it into a tupperware to take for lunch the next day (the meat is already cut into bite size peices smile.gif ).  They can have fruit between meals if they are still hungry.  I am showing them how "we" don't waste food.

We use small portions and either we eat what the kids didn't instead of getting seconds for ourselves, or I try to salvage what they've left into leftovers or lunches for the next day.

As for money, I talk about how we work so that we earn our food and home. The company I work for gives me money because that's how we change what we earn into what we get. Our home, clothes, food, even electricity for heat and Tv all take money, and that's how those people earn money for their homes, etc.
We let D's keep coins he finds on the floor and he has to take quarters with him when we go shopping if he wants a toy from the coin-operated machine. If he doesn't have quarters, he asks us. I explain to him that sometimes we can't get quarters because we are paying with the card. Or that we have to get milk with our money and so we don't have extra for quarters. It took a while, but he's really grasping the money thing at 5 yo.

We also talk about saving for things we like better. Like getting cheaper cereal so we can visit gramma & grampa more. We talk about how its silly to waste things because then we would have to buy more of it sooner. And not have money for treats, then. We garden and talk about how instead of using the money we work for to get the food, we are doing more work.

It's a constant thing. I wish my parents had been more realistic with me about how money is used as an adult. It was kinds shocking to learn how much it takes to run a household. I want my kids to understand money-love or hats, money isn't going away any time soon. Kwim?
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