How to waste less when cooking for a family

We caught up with our friends at Mamamade – a baby and toddler food brand making childhood nutrition deliciously easy – to get their top tips on how to get creative in the kitchen and reduce food waste when cooking for a family. 

Mammamade box and Oddbox box

Food waste is a big problem, but there are lots of small steps you can take to help fight it at home as part of your normal routine. Not only can these steps help cut waste, they can get the little ones eating more fruit and veg. It’s a win-win.

Creative cooking

This isn’t about cooking like a Michelin-Starred chef, but rather being more resourceful with what you already have at home. Making a recipe that calls for kale but you’ve got broccoli that needs eating? Use that instead. Or need apples and only have pears? They’ll do the job. 

Knowing what you can swap in and out of recipes, rather than shopping for specific ingredients can help you use up every last leek (or whatever other veg) you have in the fridge.

Chuck it all in

The great thing about cooking in winter is that soups, stews and curries are on the menu. And they’re all an easy way to use up lots of different types of veg – perfect for saving them from the compost heap, and for hiding extra goodness in your kids meals without them knowing – especially if you give it a quick blitz with the hand blender. Blitz it some more and you’ve got veg-packed meals for weaning, too.

Embrace the odd

Got a bit of veg the kids haven’t seen before? Get them to guess its name. Or if you’ve got some funny-shaped fruit, ask them what they think it looks like. Finding the fun in your fruit and veg can build up their confidence when it comes to trying new things or when food looks a bit different to what they’re used to – helping shape them into the future foodies they’re destined to be.

Question the date

Sometimes people throw food away because it’s past the ‘best before’ date, but the good thing about a lot of fruit and veg is that it’s often safe to eat after then. A lot of supermarkets are even getting rid of these dates from fruit and veg packaging.

Use your freezer

Got a load of leftover fruit and veg that’s past its best? Blitz it up into purées (perfect for weaning) or pasta sauces and freeze in portions for later. This will come in handy when you’re busy and don't have time to cook from scratch. You could even reuse old Mamamade purée pots to keep your new homemade purées in.

Lead with your little one

Worried that all this won’t work with a fussy toddler who might refuse a meal at any given moment? Let them lead the way and ask them to choose which veg they’d like to eat, then figure out how you could turn this into a meal. This means your little one feels listened to, and gets you cooking creatively, like we mentioned in tip one.

Cooking for a family can be hard work, so there’s no pressure if all of these tips don’t work for you. Even if you save just one piece of veg from your compost heap, every carrot counts in the fight against food waste.

We teamed up with Mamamade on this blog post, and they’ve offered you £10 off one of their 12 meal boxes – that’s a 30% discount. Just use code ODDBOX10 at the checkout.