It’s difficult to keep up with feeding teenagers because they seem to be hungry all the time and it’s doubly worse when they have friends over! So if you’re tired of constantly having to keep the fridge and cupboard stocked up with food they can grab and eat, I have some top tips that will help.
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Now they’re older and busier, they often need to eat outside of regular mealtimes don’t they, after school, after sports practice, after dinner snack or before bed…the list goes on. I can’t stand seeing them staring at a full cupboard of food and still saying to me that there is nothing to eat. What on earth are they talking about?
I remember my oldest standing in front of the fridge after school when he was about 16 and saying ‘I’m SO hungry I don’t know what to eat’. It wasn’t what he said, but how he said it. He sounded defeated. Defeated by hunger. He ended up eating leftover lasagne and he survived another day. Whew!
I get it though, what a mum can whip up for lunch a 15-year-old would struggle to. So we have to make it super easy for them to feed and look after themselves so we don’t have this problem all the time. It’s a skill we have to teach them, and it’s way easier than you think.
GETTING EVERYTHING STARTED
I always insist now on keeping my pantry full of basic ingredients, simple items. It’s not boring, it’s ingredients that can be used for many many different things. Staples, stock standard ingredients, stuff that has lasted for centuries. It worked then, and it will work always.
Because I won’t buy the packet meals or ready-made products it’s not always easy for a hungry/hangry teenager to work out what to do when they are staring at the fridge. And I don’t always get time to stop what I’m doing and help them feed.
So I use a few strategies that help me keep up with the families hunger and doesn’t mean I’m always doing food prep 7 days a week.
These are the simplest ways I have found to feed growing kids easily while not draining the budget or my energy every day of the week but also teaching them how to prepare good food for themselves.
I’ve made it part of my job as a mother to prepare in advance for this common household hunger problem. This is a general rolling menu I would use to feed our teenagers, which means at any given time 1-2 of these items are available for them to eat whenever they are hungry.
- Pizza dough & sauce (pizza dough recipe)
- Toasted sandwiches
- Bread rolls w Salad
- Eggs on Toast (scrambled, boiled, poached or french toast)
- Tortilla Wraps w Cheese and/or Salad & Aioli
- Pancakes/Crepes (crepe recipe here) w homemade maple
- Porridge/Oatmeal w homemade maple
- Fruit Crumble/Cobler
- Crackers w Cheese & Tomato
- Fruit Smoothie (bananas, milk, berries)
- Vegetable Sticks & Hummus (cheese, fruit also)
- Seasonal Fruit (or standard selection of bananas, oranges, apples)
- Blueberry Muffins (recipe here)
- Cinnamon Rolls (recipe here)
- Healthy Baked Oats & Banana Muffins (youtube recipe)
- Muesli/Oatmeal Slice (recipe here)
It might look boring to many foodies reading this, but I can tell you that no hungry teenager ready to eat his own hand would scoff at this food. If they opened the fridge to see pizza dough and sauce they can make a pizza with, they would be in heaven!
#1 MAKE SURE YOU HAVE BULK INGREDIENTS ON HAND
- Flour (whole grain. spelt)
- Rolled Oats
- Whole grain bread (or bake your own)
- Eggs (a few dozen)
- Cheese (plenty)
- Yoghurt (Greek & Unsweetened)
- Olive Oil
- Tortillas (bought or homemade)
- Rice/whole grain crackers
- Baking powder (or baking soda & cream of tartar mix)
- Regular Herbs & Spices (fresh or dried)
- Garlic (fresh, minced, granules)
- Jars of Tomatoes
- Tomato paste
- Frozen berries (for baking & smoothies)
- Tomatoes, capsicum, lettuce (salad ingredients)
- Carrots, celery, broccoli, mushrooms (pizza or veg sticks)
- Bananas, Apples, Oranges
BENEFITS TO THIS STRATEGY
- the food they eat is most often healthy, whole food
- meals are always home cooked
- I spend less at the store
- we don’t buy rubbish food very often
Find the cheapest place to buy your staples and get them in bulk. I buy flour and rolled oats in 5-10kg at a time, eggs by the tray from the farmers market, I buy 1kg blocks of cheese, a few at a time. Crackers, tinned tomatoes, tomato paste I buy in bulk box lots if I can and bags of frozen berries stocked in the freezer. Fresh fruit and vegetables I purchase every weekend at the markets.
You might notice I haven’t added meat into the meals here, IF I do have ham, bacon, salami or sausage the kids will use it most probably, but I don’t want to offer it here as that will blow our budget out far too much. They do have the option to add eggs and cheese if they want to this menu but they don’t need extra protein all the time, they have protein for main meals which is enough I think.
#2 CHECK STOCKS EVERY 2-3 DAYS
Keep track of what is left in your fridge and what’s being eaten. You might have to make another batch of bread dough for pizza, or bread rolls.
Takes about 30 mins at first and then a few hours to watch for it to rise properly and be stored etc. It is a lot easier than you think and what helps most is when you have a really good recipe.
There is no way around this, make an afternoon of it, turn on some music and just do it. It may take an hour but the pay off is worth it over the week. It saves you many last minute purchases when you’re prepared in advance.
#3 TELL THEM YOUR EXPECTATIONS
You have prepared food in advance for your family, now you will need to inform them that it’s there. Do not expect teenagers to read your mind or see the obvious in front of them. They will look and look and still not see it or know what to do.
Tell them what you have made and what you expect them to do with it. Pizza dough, sauce. Bread rolls. Eggs on toast. Be super clear. Put a list on the outside of the fridge so they can look at it and choose what to eat without having to think too much.
#4 STAY OUT OF THE KITCHEN
When they are hungry they might put the guilts on you to help them work it out.
But you have done your bit, they are not incapable of heating, grating, rolling, or chopping…they’re just being lazy.
Unless they have a concussion or broken fingers, whatever you do, don’t go into that kitchen and start making their food. It’s essential for their survival that they know how to cook and feed themselves. Let them learn, leave them alone.
SAVE YOUR BAKING
May I suggest keeping your beautiful baking in the freezer and bringing it out only when you want them to eat it.
I’m cautious with precious baking efforts because tired and lazy people will always grab the easiest most flavoursome thing and it’s always the baking that gets hit first.
Save it for special times in the week like Friday afternoon or when you’re not able to make anything else. Keep your baking treats in the freezer for emergencies.
What a delicious emergency!!