Stop Food Waste- Shop successfully with kids in tow

Date released: Oct 04 2011

Stop Food Waste Campaign says You can
shop successfully with kids in tow!

The term ‘family shop’ can lead to a series of violent expletives from even the most placid of parents. The very suggestion can bring up visions of children nagging for sweets, temper tantrums, nosey onlookers peering from other aisles and the trolley filling up with all sorts of food that will end up in the bin within a few days. When there are children involved it can be more difficult as food waste and kids often go hand in hand.

The Stop Food Waste Programme funded under the EPA National Waste Prevention Programme is advising that a little planning can go a long way to making the family shop a reduced waste, cost-saving and more enjoyable experience.

Odile Le Bolloch, Stop Food Waste spokesperson at the EPA says:

“Children love helping with the shopping especially by throwing things into the trolley. It is worth spending 5 minutes before the shopping trip to let the children assist you in making your shopping list or let them make a short one of their own – they can then get a small trolley for themselves. You will save money and cut down on food waste this way”.
  • Feed ‘em up – never shop hungry: When it comes to food our eyes are definitely bigger than our stomachs. Hitting the supermarket with a rumbling tummy is a sure way to build a mountain of nutrient deficient, sugary snacks that we don’t need. Shopping hungry means you and especially the kids are looking for a sugary quick fix, short-term energy boost and those sweet treats look too appetising to resist and just leap magically into the trolley.  Not feeling hungry when you shop will mean not picking up snacks you don’t need in the house.
  • Make a list – check it twice: Following a list is a sure way to stay on track. Have the children make their own list and let them pick the items from the shelves. Choosing items and explaining how they fit in to the family meals will keep children interested and aware of the importance of a balanced diet in family cooking.
  • Bulk buying makes cents: Don’t buy expensive individual packs of children’s items, such as yogurts, when you can buy a large container and share the spoils. - This reduces over buying, over eating and over packaging! It’s a winner in every sense of the word. But do watch for bulking up on some perishable items that will never be eaten before they go off – 20 apples at a knockdown price with an immediate best before date is not a bargain but a recipe for disaster as you’ll have to discard at least 50% of them in a few days.
  • Small but mighty: Kids get turned off food if they feel overwhelmed by the amount in front of them. Smaller portions on a plate or correctly sized lunches with smaller fruit mean they do not feel threatened or frightened they are going to miss playtime by having to work through the mountain on their plate. Let them ask for more if they are hungry – and wallow in your success as you dish out more vegetables to the masses. You’ll soon see the kitchen shelves emptying instead of scooping the remains of left over dinners into the bin. 
  • Know your children... know your trolley: Experience goes a long way to removing excess and saving money in your shop. Get to know the quantities you and the children eat comfortably and use measuring implements in the kitchen to ensure you cook the right amount. Get the children involved in the cooking – it may be messy but you won’t be cleaning food off plates later. Children are more likely to eat a healthy meal if they have prepared it – diligently mixing ingredients and using the right amounts will reduce food waste enormously. Children can become top class smoothie makers with slightly overripe fruit that would ordinarily disappear into the rubbish.
  • Prep School: Take your planning to the next level by actually putting a meal planner in place – know what you intend to cook for lunch and dinner each day in advance and stick to it. This will reduce the guess work at the supermarket and allows you to cook more than one meal from the ingredients you have. Then you can freeze some for another day, instead of the usual scenario of using half a tray of mince, leaving the rest sit on the shelf until you find an opportunity to make another Bolognese and then that normally ends up in the bin during a busy week as you never found the time. For a full range of recipes that will help you create a weekly meal plan see the website of Stop Food Waste supporter Donal Skehan,

The STOP Food Waste programme is funded under the EPA National Waste Prevention Programme (NWPP). Waste Prevention is the preferred waste management option in Ireland. By not generating waste, we can eliminate the need to handle, transport, treat and dispose of waste. We can also avoid having to pay for these services. In light of the significant issues arising from the disposal of food waste, and the realisation of the costs associated with this, the NWPP Prevention Plan 2009-2012 set out to promote food waste prevention and home composting.