In the UK we waste 4.5 million tonnes of edible food waste every year. As babies start to explore food for the first time, a bit of food waste is to be expected. However, there are some things you can do to limit this as much as possible.
1. Small portions
Offer your baby smaller portions to begin with, you can always give them more if they are still hungry. Sometimes when there is too much food on the plate babies can become overwhelmed and start pushing it away. You want them to focus on what they’re eating and not be already moving onto the next thing.
2. Family foods
Giving your baby foods that you are eating means that if there are any leftovers, they can be incorporated back into your meal. Your aim in the long run is for your baby to be eating the same foods as the rest of the family, so don’t feel the need to prepare special meals for them. Most family meals can easily be adapted for baby, and if you are eating together, your baby will learn from watching you eat the same foods.
3. Freeze leftovers
Preparing meals in advance and freezing them into portions can save time and is a tried-and-tested favourite for many families. When you’ve cooked a big batch of something tasty and baby isn’t too keen, freeze their portion and bring it back out the following week. Tastes are changing lots at this stage as baby gets used to new flavours, so it can take a few tries before they accept something new. If you froze lots of purees before you started weaning and haven’t using them, you can incorporate these into other meals, such as pasta sauces, stews, or even spread on toast.
4. Get to know food labels
Food labels have a wealth of information on them about storage and shelf life dates, so take note. Storing food correctly can keep it fresher for longer but not everything needs to be kept in the fridge to be at its best. Lots of foods can be frozen, so if they are nearing their use-by date, pop them in the freezer ready to use the following week. And ready dates carefully – a ‘use-by’ date means the product could be harmful to health if eaten after the date, but a ‘best before’ date means that the product is safe to eat but might not be the same quality.
5. Composting & food recycling
If you do end up with food waste, lots of foods can be composted, either at home or with your local council food waste collection. Councils vary with what foods can be added into their collection so be sure to check online before you add food. Fruit and vegetables peelings can all be added to traditional garden composters – for composting cooked food, you need to look at a bokashi system or a wormery.
Food waste is a perfectly understandable concern when introducing new foods to your baby. By taking some time when you start weaning to think about the types of foods you are going to give, and how to make the most of leftovers you can certainly minimise this. I've recently discovered Kate from The Full Freezer on Instagram - her page and book are full of amazing tips for how to freeze all sorts of foods, meaning that you can significantly reduce your food waste. And if all else fails, get a dog!
If you want to find out more about the best foods to introduce at the start of weaning, as well as tips and tricks for preparing food for babies, you can join my weaning workshop. We cover all of this and more, angering your questions on when and how to start weaning, as well we how to decide if baby led weaning or traditional weaning are the right approach for you. You can book your place here
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