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Improbable: Stopping My Kids From Wasting so Much Food

I don’t think there’s a bowl of salad or chili that Addie hasn’t decided to leave behind. Same goes for a half-eaten sandwich or a half-eaten slice of pizza. Giving a full bowl of cereal to the garbage disposal monster isn’t a problem for Addie.

I’ve grounded Addie from the adult-sized bowls nearly a dozen times, but that hasn’t stopped her from wasting large bowls full of cereal. A few weeks ago I came downstairs to find Addie pouring a large bowl of cereal down the drain. I gave her the standard, “We don’t waste food,” lecture and grounded her from large bowls. Later that same day, I caught Addie pouring another large sized bowl of cereal into the sink.

Oh, the parental fury that boiled inside.

I cringe every time I rinse a half-full plate of food into the sink after dinner. I also cringe when I glance at the counter and see that someone cut the crust off Addie’s sandwich leaving it behind to be thrown away. Not only does that waste food, but it wastes the best part of the bread. (Oh hi, I’m a crust man. The crustier the better! I’d rather eat a baguette than a bowl of ice cream for dessert.)

In my parents’ house, we weren’t allowed to waste food. We didn’t waste food because there were kids in Africa who didn’t get to have winter squash for dinner. Yeah, yeah, yeah. My family’s willingness to eat all of the winter squash wouldn’t have helped the kids in Africa, but it was the principle.

It only took 3 or 4 times of me wasting a bowl of cereal to learn that I needed to eat everything in the bowl or I’d be paying the consequences. The consequences? My mom would leave the half full bowl of cereal on the counter so that it could transform into a warm bowl of nasty mush. Then when my cartoons were all done, I’d come back upstairs and be ordered to finish that bowl of warm cereal mush. Talk about a way to teach a kid a lesson.

If I cut too much cheese for a sandwich or I didn’t eat my slices of cheese, they would be saved for me to eat later. If I stuffed the leftover cheese down into the drain, I had to make sure I ran the garbage disposal or my mom would dig them out of the drain and I’d get to eat them later.

I don’t want to go to such extremes with my kids, but I also don’t want them to waste the food that they’re lucky to have. It’s also tricky because I don’t want to force my kids to eat food after they are legitimately full. Forcing them to eat food after they’re full is only teaching them bad eating habits.

For now, I’m not really sure how to approach the problem. How have you handled the times where your kids are wasting food?

Read more about my family on Moosh in Indy or follow me on Twitter!

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More on Dadding:

My Quest for New York City’s Best Pizza

A Moment of Truth: You Can’t Do Anything You Set Your Mind to

My Failed Attempt to Find New York’s Best Slice of Cheesecake

Halloween Costumes for Parents? I’m too Old for That

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