Amanda is Healthy Food Guide's nutrition editor with a degree in nutrition and a post-grad diploma in dietetics. She is a member of the British Dietetic Association, The Nutrition Society and The Guild of Food...

The average Brit downs an extra 443 calories a week by hoovering up their children’s leftovers once they go back to school, according to a new survey of over 3,000 parents*; and this is before you take any snacks into account.

With the new school term in full swing, it’s time to think twice before trotting out the top excuses of ‘not wanting to waste food’ or, another hot favourite, ‘ I do it without thinking’, for unwittingly seeing your carefully planned calorie intake spiralling rapidly out of control.

While 443 calories may not sound like a dieting disaster, parents admit to an even heftier hike of 506 calories a week from leftovers during holidays. If this kind of calorie increase were kept up for the next school year, it would represent ½ stone in weight gain. 

Check out our five-point plan to avoid the parent calorie-trap:

Portion Control
Tackle food waste by serving child-friendly portions. Think hard about what your child really needs and start carefully weighing pasta, rice, grains and other ingredients before cooking. Take a look at the Love Food Hate Waste website. You can enter a food like the dry weight of pasta along with the age of your children – for instance, for one 10-year-old and one 13-year-old, you’ll be advised to cook 128g dry weight of pasta.

Check out this handy portion size guide


Stronger together
Eat with your children whenever you can. By having meals together, you will be satisfied, too, and less likely to want to pick at what they haven’t managed to finish.

Safety in snacks
Be aware that leftovers are your ‘danger zone’ and if you don’t eat your main meals together, prepare something like some vegetable crudités or fruit that you can tuck into while they sit down to their meals. This will take the edge off your hunger and help ‘leftover-proof’ your behaviour.

The fridge is your friend
If your children do still leave food, quickly wrap what can be saved and put it in the fridge or freezer. For what genuinely can’t, make a note or take a picture on your phone so that you can downsize their next meal accordingly.

Plan, plan, plan
Plan your own meals and snacks carefully and stick with them. The more you plan ahead and know where your next food is coming from, the less appealing leftovers will seem. Use our Healthy Food Guide monthly 1,500 calorie Diet Plan to get you on track and make the most of our calorie counted breakfasts, lunches, dinner and snack recipes to keep going.

*3,003 people were polled by GingerComms for LighterLife fast