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Part I: The Cost of Food Not Eaten

February 18, 2016
Plain English Version

Throw the leftovers away

Most parents do not think much about the cost of “plate waste.” Plate waste is food that ends up in the garbage. It is not as simple for lower income families.

All parents face the challenge. How do you get children to eat food that is good for them? It calls for patience and fortitude.

Most children are picky eaters. A study shows that it sometimes takes 8 to 15 attempts to get children to accept a new food. Across the world, children eat a huge array of different foods. Children are likely to try new foods if they have many choices. Their preferences are likely to last into adulthood.

For lower income families, there is a real cost to children rejecting food. It can result in too much waste. A mother of a three-year-old said, “Trying to get him to eat vegetables or anything like that is hard. I just get stuff that he likes, which is not always the best stuff.”

Another mother talked about trying new foods. She said, “No, no, that results in a lot of wasted food.”

One mother cooked rice and beans or pasta with bruised vegetables. She bought them at a discount. These meals do not cost much if the kids eat them. But her children rejected them. A low-cost dish can become a financial burden. This mother ended up with the frozen burritos and chicken nuggets that her family liked.

There is a solution. Parents can buy foods that are “shelf stable.” Shelf stable foods can sit at room temperature in a sealed container. Or parents can serve frozen foods in small amounts.

The best idea?  Parents should eat good food. They should offer this food to the kids. The result will be less risk of waste.

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