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11 Delicious Ways to Use All the Food Your Kids Waste

raspberry

I don’t know what has been going on with my kids lately, but I feel like my house is constantly littered with half-eaten cheese sticks. And cheese sticks are, like, not cheap. Do you know what a package of organic cheese sticks cost these days? It’s about $5. And yet my kids — and even my babysitter — consider cheese sticks a core food group. There are some weeks where I spend upwards of $20 just on these overpriced, individually packaged mini-tubes of mozzarella.

My kids enjoy cheese sticks as part of their meals — breakfast can be fruit, toast, and a half-eaten cheese stick; lunch is sliced cucumber, noodles, and a bite or two of cheese stick. (The rest gets left on the table for me to clean up.) Then there are the remnants of cheese sticks that I find in my car and in between the couch cushions.

Finally, I got fed up with all the waste. I started collecting these cheese nubs in a plastic baggie in my fridge. Once I had a sizeable collection — and trust me, that didn’t take long — I made some mac & cheese. The girls devoured it for dinner.

Kids are basically just adorable money vacuums — and not just because they keep needing bigger clothes, or soccer lessons, or birthday presents for all their classmates. There are some weeks when, in addition to those $20 worth of cheese sticks, I consider mortgaging our house to pay for their obsession with berries.

Organic berries are especially expensive this time of year — we’re talking like $6 a box for a small pint of raspberries — and I like to buy organic because I keep hearing how berries are prone to absorb pesticides. And then what happens?? They return home from school with a container of those pricey little jewels barely touched in their backpacks! It sends me into a serious parent rage. So now I freeze all those leftover berries — and all the half-eaten bananas — to save for smoothies or berry coffee cake.

Bottom line: Kids waste a lot of food, but with a little creative thinking there are some great ways to use up all those leftovers and upcycle them into something delicious. Here are some of my suggestions:

For leftover cheesesticks:

Sweet Potato Mac & Cheese

Steamed Cauliflower with Pumpkin Cheese Sauce

For the leftover berries:

Berry Banana Smoothie from The Food Network

Blueberry Crumb Cake from Ina Garten

For leftover bananas:

Banana Bread from The James Beard Foundation

Banana Ice Cream from The Nosher

Banana Zucchini Bread from The Nosher

Banana Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread

For bread ends and untouched toast:

Simple Bread Pudding from The New York Times

Baked French Toast from My Jewish Learning

For leftover carrot and celery sticks:

Vegetable Stock from The Kitchn

The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. Comments are moderated, so use your inside voices, keep your hands to yourself, and no, we're not interested in herbal supplements.

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