Some of the questions I get a lot are food related.
It's a fascinating topic for others that I don't mind sharing! I'm so far deep into feeding a big family that Tim is always teasing me that I'm trying to feed an army. I mean, I bought a 22lb turkey this past Thanksgiving that only us seven ate. And by seven, I mean me and Tim. I dream of the day my kids bring their spouses over for huge family dinners and I have little grandkids to feed too!
First, I think it’s really important to understand how toddlers work when it comes to food. Toddlers eat a lot, but at the same they don’t. It’s confusing, I know. Believe me…I have 5 of them and I still don’t have it totally figured out!
Some days my kids are really great at eating breakfast, but then they barely eat their lunch or dinner. Some of them will just graze and only eat small portions of their 3 meals. Somedays they eat every last morsel of their lunch, while barely touching breakfast or dinner. Some will eat dinner the best.
There’s a ton of combinations to how this all works and for the most part, they change it up every single day. It’s typically never the same combination back to back so I’m always guessing how my days will go in the food department.
Just when I make a huge breakfast with scrambled eggs and pancakes, thinking they all are going to gobble this up – only one will eat it. Just the other night we had friends over and made hamburgers for all of them and not one of them touched it! They love hamburgers! But this particular night was a huge “NOPE NOT GONNA HAPPEN” from all of them. It gets super frustrating super-fast if you don’t have a patient backbone.
How do I feed my kids?
Well we started using the meal clock found here.
That has helped a ton with showing them when it’s time to eat. All meals are eaten around the dining room table (or one of the tables outside when it's nice!). They are all served the same thing and are required to at least try one bite of everything. If they don’t like it, then they don’t have to eat it. We do lie about what’s in the food sometimes. For example, my oldest hates tomatoes. When I make chicken tortilla soup, I use diced tomatoes. I try my hardest to make sure there aren’t any in her soup but when the occasional one shows up in her bowl, “it’s a red bell pepper”. Haha *insert shrugged shoulders emoji*
We try to also ask them every night at dinner what their favorite part of the day was and what their least favorite part was. It's really fun to listen to each of their responses! Tim and I participate as well.
Where do I shop?
I do my bulk shopping once or twice a month at Costco. That’s where I buy all of the meat for dinners for the month and snacky foods. So granola bars, goldfish, popcorn, fruit snacks, trail mix, etc. I also buy our almond milk from there. My kids are obsessed with seaweed lately so we have been buying a ton of that from there as well.
Costco is a huge win for me for a lot of reasons. If we run out of milk and that's the only thing I need to grab, we will head there for lunch too. Are anyone else's kids obsessed with Costco pizza? I mean it's a KILLER deal for me since that huge thing only costs $10 and they are happily fed. They love Costco and beg me to take them there almost everyday!
Then I shop at Trader Joe's. Now I know what you’re thinking because I thought the same thing too: “that place is so expensive!” Except that it’s not! It’s actually so reasonably priced it blew my mind the first time I went in there. A box of mac&cheese: $0.99. A six pack of yogurts: $1.99. A pack of graham crackers: $1.99. A pack of turkey lunch meat: $2.99. Trader Joe's brand Cheerios: $2.99.
I could go on and on but honestly, it’s all way cheaper than the other stores around us, including Walmart. So I shop at Trader Joes weekly for all of our everyday needs: eggs, yogurt, bread, fruits, veggies, etc.
We also have a store here called “Grocery Outlet” and I will go there about once every two weeks just to see what they have. Sometimes it’s a huge bust and other times I walk out of there with a cart full of stuff. It’s discounted food due to expiring soon or being oversold to stores. They get a ton of different Annie’s brand things that I love and can score big on if I catch it at the right time.
How much is our monthly grocery budget?
I’d say I spend about $400-$500 a month at Costco. Then around $60-$100 a week at Trader Joes for our everyday food. I know that's a pretty big budget but we use up almost all of it.
How do I keep track of what everyone has eaten?
Short answer? It's like a math equation only I have mastered. I will notice who didn’t eat at breakfast and try to offer food they really like for lunch. If one didn't eat dinner at all I'll remember that for the morning and make sure they have breakfast food they really enjoy. I'm constantly thinking about what I can give each one individually so that they don't fall behind on their calorie intake for the day.
We used to use the Horizon brand chocolate milk shakes for Sawyer. She's by far my tiniest kid. The twins are the same size as her, they all wear the same clothes now. But even after using them, she didn't gain a ton of weight. Her growth curve has stayed really steady upward so no one is worried about it anymore. She's small but mighty!
How do I cater to so many different taste buds?
There's only really specific things Presley and Easton won't eat. Presley hates fruit. All of it! Grapes, strawberries, blueberries, apples...she won't eat any of that. She will eat cantaloupe and watermelon, so I suppose she doesn't hate ALL fruit. But she loves any and all veggies - especially broccoli, asparagus, and artichokes. I know you're laughing right now. I wish I could explain it too haha.
Easton has a gag reflex to any kind of beans. It was one of the funnier memories we have of him first joining our family and trying baked beans for the first time.
So those are really the only two that I need to worry about when it comes to trying to please. Oh, Sawyer hates chicken noodle soup. She never, ever will eat that dinner, she will only eat the oyster crackers served with it. She loves all of the things in it but she hates them together as a soup, I guess? Kids are so funny!
Do I offer my kids other options for a meal if they don't eat what is served?
No. I know some families do and I don't have an issue with that, but we just don't. I think if we had less kids maybe we would offer something else? But it's too hard to do it for all of them. Plus the amount of food that would be wasted would probably make my head spin!
For the most part if they try to fight us on not eating, they will give up once they know there's no backing down from us. Every night we will save their plates and if they chose not to eat as a family, they still have the option to pick at it an hour later. A lot of them end up doing this, which is why we mostly choose not to offer other things. Some nights Sawyer will return to her meal 2 hours or so afterwards and finish eating. She's definitely my stubborn one!
Every Sunday we bribe with a yummy dessert which helps them eat that big dinner.
So, yeah! That's pretty much it I think! If you have any specific questions please comment on the Facebook post or the Instagram one. You can also comment here directly on the website.
If you need some advice in the food department, I'm happy to try and help! You can message me privately or email me over at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Have a great Monday, guys!