Leftover reduction process | Living with Gleigh

Crusts with peanut butter and jelly, apple peels, sugared milk in the bottom of the cereal bowl, such is often the diet of parents when their children are small.

I was not the kind of mother who would cut crusts off sandwiches or peel apples before I fed them to my kids who had perfectly good teeth. Still, even my kids didn’t always like crusts; they’d take that first bite to expose the soft, squishy part of the sandwich, then proceeded to eat the middle out, while the crusts and a good part of the peanut butter remained intact.

My youngest was particularly picky about crusts. She ate all sandwich-type food into a thick “C,” including burgers, leaving a good part of the sandwich filling behind. I used to try to explain to her that hamburger buns did not have crusts, but it didn’t help. My husband would often take leftover hamburger “Cs” in his lunch to work because he couldn’t stand the thought of the beef being wasted.

I really tried not to snack on my children’s leftovers, attempting instead to make myself a sandwich and sitting down for five minutes to eat with them. But as it often is with small children, you’re just trying to keep up with them and it was sometimes easier to graze over the mess they left on the table, eating my lunch while cleaning up their leftovers.

Now they are teens and their leftovers come in a different form. They will ask me to buy a food item, like grapes. They consume them before I’ve even had a chance to put them away, so I’ll buy more grapes with the same results. When I buy more, they eat them, but maybe it takes them a few days and I’ll decide not to replace them. They’ll whine, “There’s no grapes for my lunch; will you buy grapes?”

I’ll buy the grapes, a couple bunches will disappear, then there they sit. After a week, when I realize they are not eating them, I’ll remind them to eat the grapes. They grunt some sort of acknowledgment, but there the grapes sit. When I remind them again, they tell me they are old and rubbery and now inedible to sensitive teenage palates.

That’s when I take action: I eat them for breakfast, snack and lunch, then I’ll put them out for dinner as our fruit/vegetable serving. Still there are grapes (I buy a big package at Costco).  The following day, I’ll decide to eat all the rest of the grapes for my lunch. By the time I’m done, I feel sick, as if I’ve eaten too many grapes, but at least they’ve been consumed.

They do this with other food items as well. Right now it’s turkey breast. I buy a cooked turkey breast from Costco they slice off to make sandwiches for their lunches. This particular food phase lasted a long time, as it’s been their lunch food of choice since school started. So I’ve kept buying turkey breast. But the last couple times I’ve bought it, I notice it’s not going as fast and now the majority of it is left and it will probably go bad in a couple days.

Now I must start in with my leftover reduction process. We will eat it for dinner in the form of turkey tetrazzini, which will then have to be consumed in the next couple days, because even though the turkey is being used in a different dish, doesn’t mean it still won’t expire.

I have tried other methods to get my kids to eat up the food in the fridge they’ve specifically requested; starving kids in Indiana and all. But I think until they actually have to purchase food with their own hard-earned money, they won’t appreciate having any food they want available to them. So this battle probably won’t be won until they have children of their own.

On the plus side, they now eat the crusts on their sandwiches.


Gretchen Leigh is a stay-at-home mom who lives in Covington. She is committed to writing about the humor amidst the chaos of a family. You can also read more of her writing and her daily blog on her website Her column is available every week at under the Lifestyles section.

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