Our Pledge To You

News

Sue’s Morning Stretch: Dorm meals offer lesson in getting most out of food

For the last month I have eaten most of my meals in a college dormitory. (Long story.)

And one of the things I noticed there was how the cafeteria staff planned and worked at using everything while trying to promote healthy eating.

Almost nightly there’d be cold beans of one sort or another to top salads. (Good way for vegetarians to get protein in their diets.) Later in the week those bean varieties might be added to meat for a taco filling. Other nights the beans would show up in a cold salad with herbs, celery and a light dressing.

If they were using potatoes for potato salad one day, apparently they’d hold back some. Those would be thinly sliced a couple days later and served as pan-fried potatoes with breakfast. When you do stuff like this, changing up your food supply a bit, it’s easier to convince your audience they are getting something different, so they’ll eat it and you don’t end up with waste.

Cut-up fruit was served almost daily. Eventually there’d be a day when it was a variety of mixed fruit that used up the leftovers from days earlier. Stir-fries usually included veggie varieties that had been available to top salads the day before.  Chicken noodle soup showed up a few days after we’d had roasted chicken for dinner.

Chunks of cucumbers or citrus filled the tall water pitcher. Just that hint of flavor makes water a little more special and might be the way to get your kids interested in drinking it rather than juice or pop.

The plates used also weren’t the typical huge American dinner plate. Instead they were 9 inchers, the ones most dish sets consider the salad plate. Apparently that’s done to discourage overeating or waste; you can always go back for more. (In my family, we only use the smaller salad size as our dinner plates.)

It was all very clever and any of these techniques could work at the home level. Try one and I’m betting you’ll have less food waste.

— Sue Ontiveros