Positive Parenting

Eating sustainably: environmentally friendly nutrition with children.

No time in everyday family life to pay attention to sustainability?

Even small changes can have a big effect and make your diet healthier and more sustainable.

According to the WWF Living Planet Report 2014 (PDF, 52 pages, 4.5 MB), we consume 50 percent more resources than the earth can provide in the long term. And the trend is rising. As if that weren’t reason enough for a rethink towards greater sustainability, we receive new reports almost every week about bird flu viruses on poultry farms, the pesticide load on our crops and antibiotic-resistant germs in our meat products.

So it’s no longer just about our environment, it’s also about our health. Everyday family life is often hectic, so it is easier to quickly reach for a finished product, but this is usually associated with significantly higher CO2 consumption. But eating sustainably is not so difficult and can be easily integrated into everyday life – if you pay attention to a few small things that can have a big effect.

Nutrition tips for the whole family:

How can I make sustainable purchases?

Prefer organic products

It is true that organic products are usually slightly more expensive than normal discount products. Nevertheless, it is worth comparing prices, sometimes there is no difference or the price is only slightly higher. Since organic farming is sustainable, less antibiotics are used and synthetic pesticides are not used, these foods are worth spending a few euros more.

But not all organic products are the same: if you look specifically for the European Community’s organic seal, the product complies with the EC organic guidelines. The brands Bioland, Naturland and Demeter have even stricter requirements.

Select regional and seasonal products

Regional seasonal fruit and vegetables are much richer in vitamins, secondary plant substances and minerals, as they are only picked at their natural harvest time and do not have long transport routes behind them. Take advantage of these products, do something for your health and eat more sustainably by saving emissions, water and energy in the production of these foods.

At the weekly market there are many fresh and regional products. But be critical here too: especially in the low-yield winter months, people sometimes buy in from other regions, ask at the market stall. Here, too, organic products have a lower environmental impact than conventional products.

You can find out when the different types of fruit and vegetables are in season in this overview: wwf.de/Saisonkalender

Only buy as much as is actually consumed

25 percent of the food purchased in Germany ends up in garbage. This is an enormous waste of resources and burdens the wallet: a family of four could save around 1,200 euros a year if they only bought what they actually used. If you want to shop more environmentally conscious and eat more sustainably, check your stocks at home before buying new food, and don’t go hungry to the supermarket.

Swing the cooking spoon yourself

Finished products are practical, but relatively expensive, and often contain chemical additives that make the product look more appealing and last longer. Cook for the same money yourself, often have more, can use more sustainable ingredients and know what’s inside. Why not cook together with your children? You can find tips here.

Avoid plastic waste

Jute bags are luckily back in fashion and don’t need much space. Fold one up and keep it in your handbag. So you always have a shopping bag with you. Avoid buying plastic bags in the supermarket, they pollute the environment and your wallet. Packaged cheese, shrink-wrapped fruit and vegetables are unnecessary waste, resulting from the myth that plastic packaging is more hygienic. Try to avoid them as often as possible and use sustainable paper alternatives. Original Unverpackt in Berlin already does without disposable packaging.

How can I eat more sustainably at home?

Don’t throw it away

The best-before date indicates when a product will retain at least its quality – i.e. taste, appearance, consistency and smell. If there are no visible changes in a food, you can still eat it without hesitation after this date. This is not the case with the consumption date, which you will find on the packaging of foods that spoil quickly, such as minced meat, poultry meat or raw milk cheese.

If something remains over at dinner, it is best to freeze the leftovers. The leftovers are quickly warmed up again, especially if it has to be done quickly or you feel like the dish again.

Energy-saving alternative to freezing: Fill the cooked food hot into a glass with a screw cap, turn it upside down and let it cool. This will keep the food in the fridge for up to two weeks. Another sustainable alternative is foodsharing.de. There you can enter what you have left, and maybe you will make someone happy with it.

Store food correctly

In order to keep your food fresh and edible for a long time, it is important to store the products correctly. You should store ripe apples and tomatoes separately, as they help other nearby foods age faster. Bread, potatoes and pumpkins like it cool and dark. Exotic fruits, contrary to their origin, prefer to be stored in a cool place.

How can I eat sustainably on the go?

Caution with cheap chains

Even if fast food is the biggest thing for many children, quality is usually not behind it. If you get a burger for two euros or an XXL schnitzel for five euros in a fast food restaurant, you can assume that the meat comes from intensive animal husbandry and that the food has been industrially produced. The sustainable alternative: make burgers at home, with organic minced meat and fresh vegetables – you know what you have.

Try the kitchens of the world

If you do not want to do without healthy and sustainable food on the way, then have a look at Arabic, Asian or Indian snacks, there are many meatless alternatives to the typical German dishes. Make sure, however, that no glutamate is used for cooking.

Order small portions

In gastronomy, dishes are often too generous. Especially in buffets, the portions are precooked in large quantities. As a result, anything that was not eaten is thrown away. To avoid this and to eat more sustainably, you can order small portions if you are not very hungry. Or have the rest wrapped up if your eyes or the eyes of your offspring were bigger than your stomach.

How can my child eat sustainably at school?

Well equipped with bread tin and drinking bottle.

Pack your child’s snack in a bread tin instead of cling film and give him water in a drinking bottle instead of a PET bottle. So your child will eat sustainably at school, as there is no rubbish, and you will save money. Here you can find tips on which healthy and tasty snacks are best to fill the bread tin of your child.

Do you want to do without meat in the school canteen?

Is there a vegetarian alternative in your child’s school canteen or is there even a Veggie Day? No? then talk to the headmaster or the Mensachef. Dishes such as potato gratin, noodles with tomato sauce or vegetarian pizza are not a big change, but would be a big step towards more sustainable food and are comparatively inexpensive for school.