There is a quote that haunts me.
“Throwing away food is like stealing from the table of those who are poor and hungry,” Pope Francis said during his weekly audience in St. Peter’s Square.
That’s the one. It haunts me because I have a house full of toddlers who are, by their nature, picky and wasteful with their food. Even if they aren’t picky, their appetites fluctuate wildly. If there is a person out there who can correctly guess the appetites of multiple toddlers consistently, please start a hotline. I would pay by the minute to know.
There are a few ways to approach this problem and until recently, none of them made me feel like I was winning. You can:
1. Eat what they don’t eat after you have already eaten resulting in your overall fatness.
2. Don’t plan a meal for yourself and just eat what they leave behind resulting in your starvation, metabolism shift, and overall fatness. (It might also result in you eating a rainbow spaghetti taco with a pancake as the tortilla, and that is far less exciting than it sounds.)
3. Throw away the scraps and be haunted by the quote.
I offer an alternative that we will call the Toddler Mom Diet.
-a bag of Spinach or other greens
-a can of beets
-a salad dressing of your choice
What You Need to Do:
Sit with your children as they eat, and it will still feel like a family meal. When they are done, dump whatever they were too picky or too full to eat onto a pile of greens and top it with a dressing of your choice. Add an appropriate amount of beets until the salad appears to be a lunch that will sustain you.
For example, my lunch today had cheddar cheese, fresh peaches, and some lunchmeat over a bed of spinach with dressing and beets. It wasn’t terrible. I was almost a little sad there were no goldfish crackers or raisins on their menu today, because that would have made things more interesting.
The variety you are likely offering a toddler in their meals infuses your own diet with variety. It should also make you a little more thoughtful about what you put on your toddlers’ plates. A salad topped with chicken nuggets and fruit chews would be pretty weird, but let’s be honest those always get eaten first.
Drawbacks and Alternatives to my Alternative
This should work to minimize food waste and keep you from eating only garbage, as long as you don’t watch Charlotte’s Web everyday (like we do) and realize that unless plated carefully, it can resemble slop. If this deters you, abandon the Toddler Mom Diet and set up a compost pit in your back yard like a non-lazy human. I am not going to set up a neglected pile of rot in my backyard because my back yard already is a neglected pile of rot. So, I will be adhering to the Toddler Mom Diet this summer, and I will let you know the results.