Waste Not – Want Not

Waste Not - Want Not food

How you can cut the amount of food that ends up in the bin – while still giving your baby nutritious meals.

As a new mum, there can be nothing more exciting than cooking for your baby for the first time and watching him discover new tastes and flavours. But when it comes to weaning, you may end up throwing away more food than he eats. We are often so eager to make sure our children eat a balanced diet and taste a variety of flavours, especially in those first months, that we fill our fridges with lots of different fresh fruits and vegetables, only for a lot of it to go to waste.

Leftover logistics
But even if you’re blessed with a good eater, there’s no knowing how much food he will eat, and it’s not always easy – especially when you may be working, too – to find the time and energy to cook lots of different meals to use up leftovers. But in the US almost 70 per cent of the food and drink that’s thrown away comes from our homes – that’s 49 million tonnes every year – and more than half of this is produce we could have consumed. It’s also thought that by being a bit more efficient in the kitchen, the average family could save $1200 a year. Thankfully, there are lots of simple ways

Batch basics
Many mums will agree that batch cooking is a great way of using up lots of ingredients. By freezing portions you’ll have a quick homemade meal stashed away for those days when you don’t have the time or energy to cook from scratch. Once your baby is over 6 months and able to eat a variety of foods, it can save time, energy and money to try to make meals all the family can eat. When my two sons first started eating, I cooked the same meals for everyone. I removed the salt and any strong spices like chilli powder from my recipes, then once it was cooked I took a small portion and blended or
mashed it up for my baby. I’d then freeze any of the food they didn’t eat. Not only does it save waste, but your child gets to try a good range of flavours, too.

There is also so much more you can do with the bits of fruit and vegetables that can end up in the bin. By using the stems, peelings, and leaves you’ll not only get more flavour and nutrition in your meals, but more for your money too.

Take broccoli for example – we often throw the stem away, but it has much more fibre than the florets. Try grating it and adding it to a pasta sauce, or peel off the tough outer layer of the stem and serve it sliced alongside your florets. It has a mild sweet flavour and is also great for babies to chew on. The same method can be used for cauliflower stems, too.

Make the most of it.
It’s about getting the most from your ingredients. Next time you’re making some mash or roasties, consider what you can do with the skins. You could place them in a bowl of water until you finish peeling, then dry them on a kitchen towel. Taking a few at a time, place them in a pan of hot oil, flipping them a couple of times until they are golden brown, then drain them on a kitchen towel. Eat them plain or season with salt and pepper or other spices, and you have tasty homemade crisps, with no waste!

And next time you make a roast chicken, why not use the carcass to make a tasty, salt-free stock? Use the bits of leftover fruit and vegetables to make a refreshing drink. If you add a couple of end pieces of cucumber, uneaten orange or sliced grapes to a jug of water, they will give added taste and colour, without adding heaps of sugar or artificial sweeteners like in commercial squashes.

It’s worth bearing in mind though, that as you discover what foods your child likes and dislikes it is completely normal for there to be a certain amount of waste usually dropped on the floor! – but if you are smart about what ingredients you buy and how you use them, you’ll not only reduce the amount of food that ends up in your bin, but also give your child tasty, nutritious rewards too.

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