It's a parenting truth: when reacting to your child's bad behavior, think carefully before you speak. Don't blurt out the first punishment that comes to mind, because you will have to live with the consequences along with your child.
For example, "You are not to come out of your room for a whole week" seems logical...until you realize that, if you enforce this literally, you will have to deliver meals, rig up a temporary toilet, allow your child to forgo bathing, arrange for someone to be home at all times, and essentially home school them for the duration of the punishment.
Conversely, a reaction like "I'm not going to let you have any food for a week" is not going to be taken seriously if you don't have a history of starving your child.
This wasn't going through my mind when I discovered Friday's cheese stick in the bottom of the kiddo's book bag today, but I managed to pull off the save anyway. My immediate reaction was to declare that if she was going to waste good food, she didn't deserve any candy. Pretty reasonable, except that she already had this unwrapped:
I personally think these are gross, but the kiddo had been waiting all day for hers. Huge, hot tears spilled down her cheeks, and I caved...kinda. I told her that, since it was already open, she could have it, but that she owed me something for wasting the cheese I had bought for her. Something...hmmm...chocolate...And, I also explained that she wouldn't be getting any cheese for a few days, since she seemed tired of it. The most annoying part of the punishment (so far) was that she had to wait for her treat because she had to pick out something for me. When she sees the slim pickings in her lunch, however, that might make more of an impression.
The kiddo now understands that, in the event that she doesn't want her cheese, it's OK to put it back into her (insulated) lunch box and bring it home and give it to me right away to put in the fridge. (I thought she knew this; lesson learned: review your rules and policies once in a while!) She is now aware that some parents might make a sign that says "I am a cheese waster*" to shame their kids, and that I don't want to be one of those parents.
*I think shaming is a great punishment when done right, however, I'm going to wait until she's older and already embarrassed by every little thing I do.