SNAP Reflections – Food Waste Makes Me Crazy

I’ll be sharing little snipits of my emotional experiences with Mazon’s SNAP Food Stamp Challenge throughout the week. I’d love to hear from those of you participating this week as well – Paul, Sharon, Susan, Chaviva… and everyone else.

So, this morning, we had breakfast. The boys were really good about asking what they could and couldn’t eat. My husband and I had moved most of the non-SNAP Challenge food down to the freezer last night, but the fridge still has some items not on my menu plan. I think I’ll tape up the fridge like on Pesach.

Anyway, my boys did great with breakfast – and truthfully, it was pretty much the same thing that they’d normally eat (for them, bagels and cream cheese). My 3 year old, on the other hand, was being typically three.

“I want waffles for breakfast.”

Fine – I anticipated this and bought a big package of waffles.

But then, after it was already toasted, she saw the boys eating their bagels.

“No, I want badel and tream cheese like my boys.” (she calls them her boys).

But we had already toasted the waffle.

Trying to argue logically with a three year old is like trying to nail jello to a tree.

So I bagged up the waffles, put them in the fridge and toasted her a bagel.

My oldest put the cream cheese on it for her, but something about his technique offended her and set off another five minutes of hysterically refusing to eat the bagel and demanding a new one.

I think I might have raised my voice at this point.

Food waste makes me frustrated under “normal circumstance”. But when I’ve so carefully planned, purchased and plotted our food consumption for this week, wasting two waffles PLUS a bagel was enough to send me into a teeth-clenched tantrum of my own.

And it’s only day one.

My daughter got her bagel in a baggie, to eat in the car. The bit that was flung to the floor (yes, the tantrum-that-never-ends) got picked up by me and put into the fridge. Someone WILL eat that bagel this week.

How are the rest of you doing so far? Have any tantrums of your own yet?


  1. For me it’s the way my family turns up their collective noses at leftovers. Tonight I put out deli, bread, egg salad, chicken nuggets, chicken on a bone, cut up veggies and whatever else was still in the fridge from shabbat. And all they do is whine and kvetch that I didn’t make anything new. Sigh.

  2. We are also on a tight budget and because of this I ALWAYS plate my children’s food. By now I know what and how much they eat. Saves tons of money that way. I see when kids help themselves they serve too much and waste a lot of food. I always tell them, they can always have more but never less. 😉

    • Tzipporah says

      (another Tzipporah)

      Yeah we do this too. I plate the food and heavily discourage waste.

      My biggest difficulty emotionally is when say, my 3 yr old throws his entire plate on the floor because he is cranky and wants something else to eat instead. I want to pick him up, throw him out the door and tell him he’s not allowed the eat the rest of the day.
      It’s not a game–juggling the food shortage and children’s feelings. He’s just being three of course! On the other hand, he just wasted a meal I cannot afford to replace–it’s not just a matter of principle. It’s hard not to be resentful of him, and wealthy people, and God… and well you get the picture lol

      Sometimes I handle it better than others! ;)_.

  3. Drives me crazy too!! This is why we don’t have cereal anymore; too much of it ends up on the floor and in the trashcan.

    This has been a concern for millenia 😉 In Bereshis 47:12 “Yosef sustained his father and his brothers and all of this father’s household with food according to the children.” Sifsei Chachamim notes that this means Yosef took into account the specific needs of all of them, even that little children waste food (and therefore the family needs more).

  4. We’re pretty good about this, but it does twinge a bit when guests come for shabbos and let their kids load up their plates and then they run off to play after eating two bites.

    • I will definitely be more mindful of how my kids serve themselves at other people’s houses after this experience.

  5. Drives me nuts too. I’ve started “This is what I made and that’s it.” with my 2yo. Before this though, I always served my 2yo first, if she didn’t want it it got passed down to her sister. Saved a bit that way.

  6. Very hard when money is tight or on a major budget and this happens. For quite a while, my husband and I found ourselves eating whatever the kids didn’t – just not to waste it. but this is not always healthy either (i.e. eating that waffle or bagel for the kid when I was really planning on just yogurt or fruit!).
    For dinners the kids don’t like, I do refuse to be a short order cook, and keep bread, peanut butter, jelly and cream cheese in the house for that reason. Once they realized that it’s either the supper I made or that, they usually at least try the food (often realize they like it) or at least end up with a sandwich and milk or juice. And everyone is just fine!
    By the way – lived on food stamps (and WIC) ONLY for food for quite a few years and although we clearly watched our spending and limited chicken or meat, saving up for yom tov, I don’t think that once we were off food stamps we have spent much more. We never “ran out” before the month was over. Sometime I even feel like we had MORE to spend on groceries then, than we do now.

    • Thanks for sharing your experiences! I hear you – I think I’ve fallen into the same trap of eating the kids’ food.

  7. I get kinda upset when people take a lot of food (especially chicken- its so expensive) and then don’t touch it. I guess we all can get that “eyes that are bigger than our stomach” syndrome…

  8. I only cook things I know the kids will eat. One of mine is a very picky eater – there are only about 6 main dish foods he’ll eat. But, the rule in our house is you eat what is served, especially if you’re the one who chose it. If you chose wrong (you’d really rather have a bagel than a waffle), then we’ll put your name on the bagel and save it for tomorrow. But we don’t waste food. As for leftovers – we cook ahead in bulk, so usually EVERYTHING we eat are technically leftovers. My kids see rubbermaid containers of leftovers the way other kids see the boxes of premade frozen meals – this is the food we have, this is the food we’re going to eat, and aren’t we lucky that we can choose which food we’re going to take out of the freezer and heat up.

    Whenever I hear complaints about food, I’m always reminded about the Israelites in the desert complaining about the Manna… G-d was giving them perfectly good food and they were turning their noses up at it. Our food might go through a few more hands between G-d and us, but the concept is the same. We are blessed to have G-d provide us with food, how ungrateful it would be to say “I don’t like what I have, I want something else instead.”

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