Toddlers & Food Waste

You know I’m big on limiting food waste. There are so many “ways” to live sustainably, but I’m a firm believer that avoiding food waste and using what you already own are the two best (and cost effective) ways. But then kids. Kids of all ages, but especially toddlers are food waste city! We have one 3 (nearly 4) year old, and we aren’t perfect about food waste, but below are the ways that help us cut back on food waste when it comes to our kiddo!

Toddler eating apple - Toddlers and Food Waste

How to Avoid Food Waste with Toddlers

One of the biggest things I’ve had to remember is that toddlers are small humans. Profound, I know! But my tastes changes and my levels of hunger change with life. They change with kiddos too, so there are some things that just can’t be predictable.

A quick caveat, anything to do with kids sounds like parenting advice. I AM NOT a parenting blogger or specialist, so please find what works for you and your family below.

Portion Control

This is a big one in our household – for myself as well as our son – portion size. I like to pick realistic portion sizes for each of us. I have a general rule that you (and I) can always have more, so never feel a plateful is a limit. but our eyes are often bigger than our stomachs, so finish what’s on the plate and then decide if you want a little more.

This is absolutely protocol for our kiddo. He actually very rarely finishes up everything in the bowl, even after telling us “he’s gonna eat everything and then wants more.” It RARELY happens, really. But if he does finish and wants more, he can absolutely have it.



Lead by Example

This one is COMPLETELY on you, but you should lead by example. Our relationship to food is important and something we easily pass on to kids. Whether it’s diet culture, binge eating, or wasting food, they see our actions more than anything else.

So. Are you wasting food? Are you partially eating something? Constantly throwing away leftovers?

Kid sitting on counter - Toddlers and Food Waste


I like leftovers. I know, it’s not glam, but I do. My husband actually eats most of the leftovers in our house (check out this post on what to do when you partner doesn’t care about sustainability), but we do leftover nights regularly.

Our son eats the same things we eat for dinner, which simplifies everything from cooking to cleaning and saving food. If there is a bit of food leftover over in his bowl, we save it for another time – either with some other added to in a separate bowl for him to eat, or it just gets put back into the main pot. You gotta do you on this, I realize, but we live our lives very family style!

And then prioritize eatings up those leftovers with your kiddo. If it’s not a favorite thing, you can sweeten the pot with a side dish or topping they do like (our little guy will pretty much always say yes to avocado)!

Limit Snacking & Grazing & Extras

Hot dang. Snacking and grazing is a thing. When I went through my weight loss journey, one of the things I really cut back on was grazing – nibbling small bites here and there. I still get caught up on busy days, but for the most part, I try to fulfill my need for food. I also know that grazing and snacking limit how much sounds good at lunch or dinner.

Same with kiddos. our little guy is on a set schedule for meal and snack times. When it comes to the afternoon/evening, he has a small snack after his nap around 3 and then dinner is at 6.

Now. My husband likes to nibble on chips or something while I cook dinner – totally fine. But our kiddo loves chips too and always wants some. We want to include him, so we give him a few, but sometimes we overestimate how hungry he really is and then dinner becomes A THING – if you have kids, you know what I mean.

Anyway, so limiting snacking, grazing, etc. can really be a huge boon to helping you cut back on food waste.

Similarly, when we have tacos or something for dinner, he wants tortilla chips with us. We usually give him one chip between a few other bites. Then if he eats all his dinner, he can have “as many chips as he wants.” he’s usually full by then and is happy with just a few.

Mom Grocery Shopping with Kid - Toddlers and Food Waste

Hold Them Accountable

And then there’s this. I never knew how many dinner bites we’d be counting as parents. Nearly every night is “how many more bites?” We come up with a number and make our way through (some nights agonizingly slowly), but the lesson needs to stick. And, honestly, he needs to eat more dinner!

At the end of a day, the last thing you want to do is count bites and barter over dinner consumption, so do your best!

Toddlers & Food Waste

I’m here to say that there will never be no food waste – for toddlers or for adults, but it’s important to be mindful of it and to try your best!

Sustainable Parenting & Kid Life

From sustainable clothing to home decor, here are a few real life sustainable parenting and kid tips…

Sustainable Children’s Clothing Brands

Sustainable Kids’ Clothes Shopping Tips

Sustainable Kids Shoes

Sustainable Diapering {Cloth Diapers to Better Practices}

Incorporating Baby life into Your Home Decor

My Breastfeeding Struggle Story

How We Knew it Was Time to Have a Baby

First Trimester Nausea Relief

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