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I spent my Sunday afternoon planning the menu, rifling through the cupboards and fridge to see what we needed to stock up on, and driving to the grocery store, all the while trying to figure out how I was going to keep my teenagers fed this week without dipping into their college fund.
Teens eat A LOT
My oldest son drinks over a gallon of milk himself in any given week. My daughter has been into salads and two heads of lettuce every few days won't do it. She also has chocolate cravings (like her mother), but instead of eating one bar, she eats three in one sitting (like her mother). I realized it wasn’t fair for me to buy them for myself and hide them every week, so I started buying twice the amount, and only hid half so I’d have something to look forward to after I spent half the day feeding and shopping for three growing kids.
Oh, and my youngest? He can eat cereal like it's his job—he loves it all and mixing a few different kinds of cereal in a huge bowl is his idea of a party. I think once he ate an entire box in a day and I told him we needed to make better choices. Now, he tries to keep it to half a box or so.
...Including HUGE "snacks"
My kid’s snacks these days have the look and feel of full-sized meals.
Why, just the other day I walked inside from working in the garden and my son was whipping up four scrambled eggs, some bacon, and an English muffin that he was topping with peanut butter and Nutella.
"We are going to eat dinner in like two hours! What are you doing?" I asked him. "It's just a snack, Ma. What are we having for dinner? I'll be hungry, promise."
I explained I was making a big dinner—pasta with meat sauce, salad, and garlic bread. He then explained to me that meal always leaves him feeling "hungry in about five minutes," then asked if I got two loaves of the garlic bread because it was his favorite.
Of course I did, this isn’t my first rodeo.
Leftovers? What are those?
Yes, all the food was gone that night—zero leftovers in sight. And yes, he had a snack of yogurt, granola, and a banana right before bed because his stomach was "eating itself."
As I got home on Sunday and was out of breath from bringing in the groceries and putting them away, I realized I had forgotten the milk and the orange juice for the week. That is why the bags were so light and my arms don’t feel like jelly, I thought.
I'd have to go back tomorrow—there was no way I was going to make another trip today. Going one day without milk or juice wouldn't be the end of the world.
Until my youngest wanted a bird-bath-sized bowl of cereal for his afternoon snack, and also informed me I'd forgotten to get granola bars. I told him to cook up a couple of eggs instead, only we were out of those, too.
“What about tuna?” I suggested.
“I ate the last two cans today!" He brother yelled down from his room. He was eating something, I could hear the silverware clatter against the bowl.
The never-ending grocery list
I started a second list for the week, left it on the counter and before I knew it, it was half a page long—these days as soon as I think I have it covered and we have enough food to last a week, I just wait and hour and realize we aren’t even close.
You go from trying to force feed your kids when they are young for fear they aren't getting enough calories, to telling your kids they better slow down and stop eating or you are going to get kicked out of the local market because they are sick of seeing your face walk in there, buy all the things, and leave their shelves empty.
I've tried making our own bread, bagels, and granola thinking it might save money and trips to the store but I was literally parked in the kitchen for over a week straight and had to run to the store three times to buy flour and yeast so what’s the point?
I gave up—I’ll gladly shell out money to buy pre-made stuff at the grocery store. I don't want my life to be centered around my kitchen island as I try to keep flour out of my eyelashes.
I have three teens, they eat a lot and it's a full-time job to keep up with that madness. There's no end in sight, and all the lovely clerks at the grocery store know me by my first name and don't flinch when I buy 3 dozen bananas, a tub of peanut butter, and three loaves of bread every week. They know I sometimes have two carts and it’s going to take a while to bag my groceries.
And I was thinking as I headed to the grocery store the next Monday with my list in my hand, I'm getting a good workout in from lugging all this food in the house so, there's that.
Katie Bingham-Smith lives in Maine and is a full-time freelance writer. She's writes about all things parenting, food, and fashion.