Cutting Down On Food Waste

You may already know that we are about to get chickens. Apart from the fresh eggs, one of the reasons for getting the chickens is to use up some of our food scraps. Food waste is one thing I hate and I try to avoid it as much as I can.

That said, I have three children who go through phases of eating well then eating badly. Some days dinner gets devoured. On other days there seems to be more on the children’s plates after dinner than I put on there to begin with.

I can deal with leftovers alright, but scraping food into the bin, even it is the recyclable food waste bin, just seems wrong. I’ll be glad when some of the scraps can go to the hens, but in the meantime I’ll be using these tips I have come up with to reduce our food waste.

  • Give the children small portions then seconds. No one wants to eat porridge toddler has had his hands in. If it is still in the pot, it can be reheated the following day.
  • Find out what the children like to eat and use that as your basis for introducing new meals. If they like spaghetti bolognese, try them with lasagne. If they like lasagne, move on to moussaka. There is bound to be less waste on plates than if you spring moussaka on them one dinnertime.
  • Let the kids help cook. This can go either way, but it is likely that when they know the effort that they put into cooking the meal, they will eat it and encourage their siblings to eat it too.


  • Take a look at what you are throwing away. Ask yourself these questions:
    – could I keep this for tomorrow instead if dumping it?
    – why are there so many leftovers? Did I cook too much? Is it food the family doesn’t like?
    – how much money am I wasting by dumping leftovers?
  • Gather up recipes and ideas for using up fruit, vegetables or bread so that you can use them even if they are past their best. Soups, breadcrumbs, stewed fruit and crumbles – there are tons of possibilities.


  • Freeze food for later, either cooked or raw. After dinner take whatever is left in the pan from dinner, pop it into a freezer bag or lunchbox and pop it into the freezer. Equally, if you’ve gone overboard on the reduced-to-clear section in the supermarket and know you have more food than you’ll eat before it goes off, freeze it for another day.
  • Buy smaller quantities. If time allows, go grocery shopping a couple of times a week rather than just once.

Sharing on The Truth About and on Twinkly Tuesday

16 thoughts on “Cutting Down On Food Waste

  1. I hate throwing away food waste from us. I don’t mind from the Destructor so much, although I do try to give him smaller portions and then give more when he asks for it rather than giving him loads and then watching most of being poked, prodded and thrown around.

    Am always freezing leftovers or bringing them in for work the next day. Some days we have a pot luck dinner from the freezer made of left-overs that were too big to be thrown away but not quite enough for a meal on it’s own.

    I need to get better at meal planning though and having a variety of quick dinners, I find it’s too easy to get stuck in a rut of the same dinners all the time and then we don’t fancy having it again which leads to picking up something else from the shop / cheeky take-away / crisp sandwich for dinner and the original dinner not getting used.

    1. It sounds like you have a good handle on things Emma. Good on you!
      Yes, it is easy to slip into having the same dinners over and over. Over my three bouts of parental leave, I have tried out loads of new recipes to add to our diet. Some have worked out really well and have become new favourites like smoked salmon cooked in cream with dried dill and cucumber slices. It cooks in the time it takes the pasta to cook. It doesn’t sound great, but it is really tasty. Another one we like is oven ratatouille (can be made ahead). It is really versatile – stir pasta through it, add it to an omlette or quiche, top a pizza with it or have it as a side dish.

  2. I have started looking very closely at our food waste. As a saty at home dad it is me that does the shopping and I have taken to buying less fruit, more often to stop it going off. Portion size is also very important. Great list #twinklytuesday

  3. Or just do what I do and end up eating all the kids leftovers as well as your own meal – waste not want not! *rolls sideways out the door*. Seriously though, good tips here. I always read that one about getting them to help with cooking but unfortunately even though my kids love helping it doesn’t make them want to eat the same food once it’s cooked (unless it’s Betty Crocker brownies of course!). You are having hens – we have worms at the moment (living with my Mum & Dad and he has an allotment). Dad’s wormery is endlessly fascinating to my six year old although it just looks like a bin full of rotting food and worms to me. I’ve never known so much about worms, the properties of their wee and all sorts! Thanks for linking up to #thetruthabout this week Fionnuala – you’ve been missed!

    1. Ah, thanks Sam. I missed reading your posts too. I have jsut had such a busy few weeks and Number Three is at the stage where he needs to be kept an eye on ALL the time.
      That wormery sounds fascinating!

  4. Hi Fionnuala!
    This is another prompt for me because I definitely ‘could do better’ 😉
    I wish someone would write me a thrifty 4 week meal plan with a matching shopping list for every week…And then tell me the cheapest local places to get the ingredients.
    I just feel its all I can do to whizz round Morrisons at 7am on Monday doing the weekly shop before my OH leaves for work and its a bit haphazard and I end up wasting stuff.

    Where is the meal planning fairy when you need them? #thetruthabout

    1. Since I read your comment this morning I ahve been thinking up meal plans for you! If I get round to it I will drop you an e-mail. It can be so tricky to get out of dong the same things over and over and having a standard shopping list. I love that being on parental leave has given me a bit of time to think about our meals more.

    1. Yes, especially with toddlers. They can be so picky, eating everything one day and nothing the next. I must have eaten 20 biten strawberries today. My little on kep taking one bite and then throwing them off his plate.

  5. Brilliant tips Fionnuala, I cannot bear food waste either. When I do my big weekly shop, I batch cook and freeze some dishes, reducing the risk of vegetables ending up on the compost heap. This also means there’s a home cooked meal at hand! Like you I dish up smaller portions too and keep leftovers for the following day or a great tip I picked up from Helen @The Busy Mama’s, I make a fritatta with leftover vegetables for my husbands lunch or even breakfast the following day.

    1. Sounds like you are well on top of things Nicola. Doing a batch cooking session after getting the groceries is a good idea. I used to do that on Fridays, my day off. Since I am at home at the moment I don’t anymore but I must get back into it later in the year when I am back at work.

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