Food Waste in America Mini-Lesson

January 4, 2012 2 Comments

It is frustrating as a teacher to have so many important things to teach and just not enough time to teach them.  I do not have time for full lessons on everything I want, so I fit them in with “teachable moments.”

I started class with a journal entry.  Students were given a USDA Food Plan chart and answered the question:

According to the USDA Food Plan Chart at your table, how much money does the average family of your size spend on food in one month?

This was an eye opener for the students.  I asked if they were surprised by how much groceries cost.  One student piped up:

Not the way my mom complains about how much I eat!  She was so mad when I drank all of the egg nog!

Ah, the joy of raising teenage boys. 🙂

After students calculated the cost of food at each level, I showed this (very) short video clip.  It is quick but very informative and has some hard-hitting statistics that really impressed the students.


According to the video, the average American wastes 28% of the food they buy.

I had the students calculate how much money they were potentially wasting.

As homework, students listed three ways to waste less food at home and in the classroom.

I have been noticing a lot of waste in my classroom with perishable goods.  I purchase milk and eggs for a lab, but do not use the leftovers up.  I shared some ideas for preventing food waste during our pancake lab.

First, I taught the students how to use dry milk.  I mixed the milk powder in with the dry ingredients and used water in the moist ingredients. The leftover milk powder is shelf-stable and will be kept for the next lab.

We also substituted flax seed for eggs.  I purchased only the amount of ground flax seed needed for the lab from the bulk goods section.  Students will use one heaping tablespoon ground flax seed with 1/4 cup water.

Students seemed very interested and were surprised to find that the pancakes tasted no different than others they had tried. As an incentive to continue the discussion at home, I added 2 points extra credit for a parent signature. I am excited to hear about parent’s insights.


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  • Christian P March 5, 2012 at 4:31 pm
    Warm and delicious apple pie!!
    1 large egg yolk
    1 tablespoon heavy cream
    3 pounds assorted apples (such as Macoun, Granny Smith, Cortland, Jonagold, and Empire)
    2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
    1/4 cup granulated sugar, plus more for sprinkling
    1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
    1/8 teaspoon salt
    1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
    Best-quality vanilla ice cream (optional)

  • Shelby C March 5, 2012 at 4:34 pm

    Ummmm, Its all appliey and cheesy and warm. Yum!

    * 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
    * 1 recipe Cheddar Double Pie Crust Variation
    * 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
    * 4 pounds Granny Smith apples
    * 3/4 cup sugar
    * 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    * 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • Leave a Reply to Shelby C Cancel Reply

    I’m Kayla Pins – Health and Family and Consumer Sciences teacher to high school students in rural Iowa. Welcome to my online home where I share lesson plans, activities, and inspiration with fellow teachers.


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