When I post pictures of our destroyed lunches on Facebook and Instagram, they are often some of my most liked posts. People love to see what the kids are actually eating. With us, it's a mixed bag. I have one child who eats most of his lunch, most of the time. And I have one who usually just picks at hers (also, she picks at her dinner every night). And I have two who blow like the wind, totally different from one day to the next.
I was chatting with the kindergarten teacher recently and she mentioned how much food she sees kids throw away when she is on lunch duty. A LOT, apparently. She said that most of the kids she was watching were dumping a lot of food in the trash. She was shocked about it, and so was I. My kids don't throw their food away, because they know they are not allowed to. But apparently most do at our school. This didn't happen at our preschool. The preschool teachers made a point to help the kids pack back up everything they didn't finish, so that we could see what they ate. But at a public elementary school with so many kids eating lunch at once and one teacher on duty in the lunch room, it's just not possible to monitor that.
I know my kids don't throw their food away because sometimes the lunch boxes come home completely full, or mostly full. They rarely come home completely empty. I have some winner lunches, and some not. But how would I know if they just tossed what they didn't eat?
If your lunch boxes are always coming home empty - are you sure that's because the kids are actually eating all of their food? Or are they dumping what they don't eat? If they fess up to throwing it out - tell them to stop doing that!
I want that leftover food to come home, for three reasons:
- I want to know how much they ate so I know whether they got enough to eat. If the food is all gone, I am going to assume that maybe they could have eaten more, and I might pack more next time.
- I want to know if they liked the lunch. If the food is gone, I am going to assume they liked it and I will pack that lunch again. If threw it out, I would assume they ate it and liked it, and so I will end up packing food they don't like again. I don't want to do that.
- I hate to waste food! If the food is still good but wasn't eaten because they just were full or ran out of time, then it will be finished it for snack after school. My kids all know that the snacks do not come out until I have seen the lunch, and if there is still lunch left, then that is their snack. Good quality food is not cheap. And feeding a family of 6 is not cheap. I do not want somebody throwing out food that is still perfectly good.
If your lunch boxes are coming home empty every day, talk to your kids about it.
If they are throwing out food instead of bringing it home - tell them to knock that off! Even if you do nothing but throw it out yourself when you clean out the lunch box, knowing how much and what they ate is really useful information for future lunch planning.