Top 5 Dad ways to reuse food waste_featured image

Top Five Dad Ways to Reuse Leftover Food

We all know that no matter how hard we try, our kids aren’t going to eat what they don’t want to. Whether it’s the experimental chili Lady Babe whipped up or the sure fire grilled cheese cut into the perfect squares, if Little Dude and Little Bean aren’t feeling it, they aren’t eating it. I have to believe I am not the only parent with kids who pick around their plate like Indiana Jones looking for booby traps. I promise I’m not putting little finger sized bear traps in the peas. I certainly can’t be the only parent who has desperately pleaded with a two year old to take one bite of his fish sticks. I only made the darn things because he loved them last week and asked me to make them again!! Don’t even get me started on macaroni and cheese. Seriously, what kid doesn’t like mac and cheese? I’m sure Little Dude would think it’s delicious if only he could get past his fear of pasta.

Being good parents, Lady Babe and I pile the kids’ plates with healthy foods we know they will not eat. Maybe if we keep offering them healthy foods they will eventually take a nibble. I even do my part to show them how delicious it is by waiting for them to make eye contact and then spooning it into mouth in slow motion. Mmm taste that yummy quinoa! Look how much fun I am having eating raw carrots! Inevitably, as dinner time comes to a close, we are left with two tiny plates still half full of food (sometimes completely full and completely untouched).

I know when they are hungry they will eat. I am not worried about that. I just can’t get over how much food goes into the disposal or the garbage can. It is a rare occasion when both kids eat everything on their plate. If you are as tired as I am of seeing plate after plate of uneaten food going into the garbage, then check out my top 5 ways to reuse uneaten food. These certainly aren’t the only ways to save waste but they are my favorites.

5. Eat them for leftovers the next day

Top 5 Dad ways to reuse food waste_Leftovers

Everything is better the second day, right? Sure that lasagna has had tiny little hands smooshed through it, but it will still taste the same going down. A gnawed on chicken breast is just as good as an untouched one. Salvage what you can off the kids plate and pack it in your lunch bag. Toss in a bag of chips and you will have yourself a pretty tasty meal. It’s the easiest solution on the list and it will also save you money.

 4. Make bird feed

Top 5 Dad ways to reuse food waste_Make bird feed
Keeping the kiddos from eating the bread can be the hard part

We all know birds love breadcrumbs, but you might be surprised that many birds will eat more than just the bread from your plate. (Especially during harsh weather months when food is harder to come by.) Break up your bread and baked goods and sprinkle them in your yard to attract and feed birds. Backyard birds also enjoy mild cheeses such as mild cheddar. Leftover pasta and rice make a great treat. Avoid offering anything that has been covered with a heavy sauce. I know those kids didn’t eat all their vegetables, however the birds will. Birds will also eat various meats, however, I would advise against this because it also attracts unwanted animals and pests. When feeding birds ensure the pieces are small. Also, try to place anything other than breadcrumbs in a hanging feeder high out of the reach of pets and other animals. When in doubt don’t put it out.

 3. Use them around the house

Top 5 Dad ways to reuse food waste_Use Food wastea round the house_banana skin as shoe polish
The wife made fun of me but my shoes have never looked better.

Food waste doesn’t always need to be consumed to be useful and less wasteful. Did you know banana peels make an excellent shoe polish? Nothing complicated. Eat the banana, rub the inside of the peel on your dress shoes and then admire your own reflection. Use orange peels to freshen up your garbage disposal or to remove water stains from metal fixtures. Eggshells have more uses then I have time for, one of the more popular being to mix pulverized eggshells with an egg white to create an egg-cellent healthy facemask. There are plenty of other ways to use things you thought were trash around the house and save money at the same time. With solutions like these you can save some time and money.

2. Create a new meal

Top 5 Dad ways to reuse food waste_Create a new meal from leftovers

It can be surprising easy to create new meals using all or part of your kids’ leftover mess. Let your inner Chef Ramsey come alive and surprise the family with new and easy-to-create meals. One of my favorites is courtesy of Christy Jordan’s blog, Southern Plate. She uses leftover hamburger and hotdog buns to make Waste Not Want Not French Toast. You can also turn stale bread into croutons. Got leftover hamburger meat or ground beef? Use it in your spaghetti sauce. No one will be able to tell the difference. Lady babe loves turning any leftover chicken or turkey into chicken or turkey salad for sandwiches. Let’s be honest kids aren’t the only ones who waste food. When was the last time you saw an entire veggie tray consumed? Turn what’s left into a delicious salad or use them as pizza toppings. My kids, Little Dude and Little Bean, love when we use uneaten fruit to make smoothies. With a little creativity almost anything can be turned into a serviceable meal.

1. Start a compost pile

Top 5 Dad ways to reuse food waste_Start a compost pile

Possibly the most environmentally friendly way to reuse all those food scraps is making compost. Compost is a great way to put essential nitrogen and carbon back into your garden, flowers or lawn. Composting is easy to start, simple to maintain, and uses only things you should already have around the house and yard. You can start with a compost bin (store bought or self-made) or on the bare ground. Start your compost with a few layers of leaves then layer in your food waste. Avoid putting meat, bones, oils or fat in the compost unless you want local pests and animals digging through it. Layer your food waste with leaves, grass clippings, straw, manure, sawdust, dryer lint, or fireplace ashes. I don’t recommend placing weeds you pulled up into the compost. It is possible for their seeds to get into whatever you plan on using your compost for. Every couple of weeks turn the pile over with a shovel or pitchfork to aerate the pile. This assists in decomposition. With very little work you will have a good compost to use around the yard making your plants healthier for cheaper.

You don’t have to be an environmentalist to want to be a little less wasteful. Not to mention, teaching your kids about reusing and recycling will start good habits they can use all their lives. You might never be able to get your kids to eat all of their food, but with some creativity and a little effort you can reduce the amount of it that ends up in a landfill.

In the comments section below let me see your favorite ways to reduce wasted food:

What are your favourite leftover recipes?

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Ryan Gonzalez

I am the father of two very normal, very hyper children. I strive everyday to be the father they deserve. Sometimes I exceed my own expectations and other times I fail miserably. But every morning is another chance to get it right.
  • Tash from Gift Grapevine

    Wow – banana peels as shoe polish! Who knew?! With two super fussy tornadoes, we have leftovers in our house too. Handy Hubby usually acts as a good garbage disposal unit plus we also compost and use leftover fruit and yoghurt in smoothies. Not that I want my tornadoes to grow up too fast, but I’m looking forward to when they are teenagers and are eating everything in sight!

    • David Hawkins

      I understand being a human garbage can. In fact I gained quite the reputation for it in my twenties (my belts were not impressed). You smoothie idea is excellent and I’m going to steal it – there are some bananas that are looking evil in out fruit bowl.