Overstuffed Fridge
Credit: © Christi Tolbert / Getty Images

Cooking big family meals with a large variety of delicious and nutritious foods with plenty of leftovers for lunch the next day is just what loving mothers do. But here’s some bad news for loving mothers everywhere: According to new research, they’re wasting money and destroying the environment. Shout out to ambivalent and absentee mothers everywhere!

Depressingly titled “Wasted Positive Intentions: The Role of Affection and Abundance on Household Food Waste,” the study from researchers in New York and Brazil identified “familial affection and preference for abundance as major drivers of wasted food in lower-middle income American families.” As many can probably relate to, the research found that mothers (or, more broadly, caregivers) often like to serve large meals to show affection for their family. Families who have faced food insecurity in the past are more likely to keep extra food on hand. But having more food also led to more waste, which not only has the much discussed global impact, but also a personal financial impact: wasting $371 on average per person in the US per year.

“It's kind of ironic,” noted lead author Gustavo Porpino, according to “Caregivers do everything they can to fit the traditional role of a ‘good mother.’ They keep the house fully stocked with all kinds of food, provide snacks and treats in between meals, and make sure everyone has more than enough on their plates at the table, but it's these same behaviors that lead to wasted food, wasted money, and even to obesity.”

One specific irony is that, in an effort to be a better caregiver, mothers will often prepare additional healthy sides to balance out other junk food, leading to more food overall and, in turn, more waste. Maybe the solution to food waste is simply having dads prepare more meals? What’s the environmental impact of serving your family delivery pizza and a six-pack of Busch Light every night?