Not wasting food is just one of the life lessons you'll teach.

How to Teach Children to Stop Wasting Food

by Kathryn Hatter

While you may be anxiously monitoring expenses and tracking your food dollars, your kids will eat or decide not to eat without a care in the world. Little ones may have a hard time investing too much energy in food waste. You can increase kids’ awareness about leaving uneaten food on a plate to encourage budding responsibility. With a little effort and training, your youngsters will never look at a discarded sandwich the same way again.

Explain that it’s important to use all the food that Mommy and Daddy buy to eat. There are two reasons why this is a good thing. One, food is expensive and it’s not good to waste it; and two, wasting food means that you’re throwing away perfectly good food that someone else might have eaten.

Show kids how to take small servings of foods at mealtime so that no one wastes food by not finishing everything. Promise tots that if they finish something and want more, they can have it. Make it clear what you take small servings first because this makes sure that everything gets eaten.

Give second or third helpings (in small amounts) if little ones finish and ask for more. By guaranteeing more upon request, you eliminate the need to heap food onto plates that kids might not finish.

Set an example of not wasting food for your youngsters to see. Always start with small portions when you’re serving yourself so you’ll finish everything you have. If you want more of something, serve yourself more without taking so much that you don’t finish it all.

Save leftovers if someone can’t finish a plateful of food. Wrap up the plate and stick it in the fridge for a fast snack or lunch the next day. Just don’t forget the leftovers are in there or they’ll go to waste!


  • Talk about how your tummy feels when you’re hungry with little ones. You might use words like “gurgly,” “growly” and “noisy” to help little ones pinpoint this feeling. Next, talk about what your tummy feels like when you’re full. This feeling might fit words like “round” or “fat” to help a youngster think about that full, contented feeling that comes from a full tummy. Touch on varying degrees of hungry and full, too – sometimes you might feel ravenously hungry, slightly hungry or even “so full you might explode” full. With an awareness of hunger level, kids can ask for an appropriate amount of food to satisfy hunger.

About the Author

Kathryn Hatter is a veteran home-school educator, as well as an accomplished gardener, quilter, crocheter, cook, decorator and digital graphics creator. As a regular contributor to Natural News, many of Hatter's Internet publications focus on natural health and parenting. Hatter has also had publication on home improvement websites such as Redbeacon.

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