Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Frugally Feeding The Bottomless Teenager

Michelle at Leaving Excess asked...

OK, Gayle. I am desperate! My 12 year old son (will be 13 in April) is eating me out of house and home, but he wants meals for snacks. He is constantly whining that he needs "real food" not snacks. You know if he could go shopping he would pick out microwavable crud that is overly expensive. Any suggestions on keeping us both happy? Thanks!


Boy it's sure simpler to be frugal when you just have two adults and a couple of babies in your house, but let me tell you, when you hit the teenage years you really get put to the test. Teenagers are notorious for many things, one of which is eating you out of house and home. And we've managed to figure out a few tricks around here to feed their insatiable appetite and not break the bank.

  1. Make snacks that are going to fill them up. You're teens aren't going to be satisfied with a piece of fruit to tide them over. If yours are anything like mine, it's a constant stream of, "Mom, is there anything to eat?" They are NEVER full. So make sure you are offering them snacks with ingredients that have fiber, whole grains or protein (beans or meat) which fills tummies much more than the empty calories in sugar or salt laden snacks.
  2. Be prepared. If you normally cook two or three meals a day, when the you hit the teen years you could easily add one more meal to your cooking schedule. But who has the time for that? If you keep your freezer stocked with quick and easy homemade "fast food" then your teen can re-heat their own snack and not bother you with the preparation. Just double a dinner recipe one night and store the extra portions in the fridge. Do that a few times a week and you'll have a stockpile ready to go when they ask.
  3. Offer foods they like. I'm learning that my funky vegetarian meals are tolerated at dinner but NOT as snack food. They want hot pockets, burritos, nachos, and other teen fare. And guess what, you don't have to buy that stuff, you can make it and it will be much healthier for them.

So here are a few recipes to get you started.

No Time Flat Nuked Nachos

Pizza Roll-Ups

French Toast Sticks

Make Ahead Wraps

Beef Taquitos

Pizza Pockets

22 comments:

Emily said...

You had me with all points...until you mentioned protein and beans.

We are talking teenage boys, right?

are you tracking me? hahaha...It might be a totally separate issue from hunger in my household if I fill my boy up with beans. haha.

Gayle said...

I don't know about yours but mine are just fart machines whether they get beans or not. I think they could dredge one up from an empty stomach. Hahahaha!

MomVee said...

One thing I find handy with my teenage boy--when those big packs of chicken drumsticks go on sale, I stock up on them. Then I roast a pan full at a time and keep them in the fringe for snacks. Protein-rich finger food that he's totally happy with.

ToyLady said...

Hi there. I've been enjoying your blog for a while - thanks! I just wanted to make kind of an obvious suggestion - let the teenagers put together some of their own snacks, as well. I just never kept the sweet-sugary-junk food stuff around, but there was always fruit, veggies, cheese, pasta, tortillas, beans, etc. in the house, as well as PB&J. My son (now 20) certainly put together some mighty noxious "snacks" for himself (chicken ramen noodles with taco sauce, bacon and american cheese, anyone?), but he did learn how to feed himself. Sort of. ;)

I think his all time favorite snack is a quesadilla (or 3) (he's a big boy) - a whole wheat tortilla with cheese and bacon (he does love bacon!), microwaved just until melty.

Michelle @ Leaving Excess said...

Thank you, Gayle! I will try those recipes and track my progress on my blog.

Amy said...

I am in the same boat. My oldest is 13 and she can eat. But my next one is about to turn 12 and he can put the food away!!These are the 2 oldest of 7 and when the younger ones are going thru a growth spurt, I can't hardly make enough food. 4 of the 7 are boys so I pretty much won't be able to leave the kitchen in a few years. Thanks for the recipes and I love your blog!!!

Holly said...

I have two older brothers. My mom always tells that she spent the first half of the teenage years trying to fill the boys up, and the second half just trying to convince them that they wouldn't starve to death. I now have three boys myself, ages 4-2-1, and I don't look forward to feeding them during those huge growth spurts! LOL about the farting. That starts so young with boys! They are so proud too, gross.

Sadie said...

It's not just boys... my oldest daughter's 3rd grade teacher asked her last year if she could change her diet, because her farts were becoming disruptive in class. :-X We don't eat THAT many beans, she's just always been a gassy kid, LOL

Lisa B. said...

Gayle this post really hit home. I thought I was the only one with a bottomless pitted 12 year old male! I'm going to try your tips. Thanks for sharing.

MomVee stole one of my two top tips. Those big chicken legs on sale for .69 a pound gets popped into my oven a dozen at a time. My son likes HOT spicy food. So they are brushed with melted butter and salted with Mortons Hot Salt. Once done they are thrown into a ziplock into the fridge so all he has to do is heat in micro.

My other tip is I buy Farmland sausage links on sale for .99 a pack, using .35 cent coupons that double, making them .29 a pack. Just Sunday I laid out 9 packs of those links on a big baking sheet and baked them up. Quick froze them so they separate easy, then dumped into a ziplock and thrown in the freezer. He microwaves these for breakfasts, after school snacks and before bed snacks. The hour it took to do the 100+ links and $2.61 will go so much further than a $3 bag of doritos!

Becky D. said...

I found besides the quesdillas/nachos and the traditional pbj already mentioned that quick breads (banana etc) and muffins seem to fill them up but seem sweeter and snackier to them. And maybe just maybe you can sneak some veggies in (chocolate zuchini, pumpkin bread etc) Of course I was also going to say they can cook most muffins themselves but maybe not if you want veggies. My girls are now 19 and 21 but I still remember the year that the older one grew like 4-5 inches and gained 20-30lbs.

Jennifer said...

I think cooking bulk batches of things is a good idea. For instance I make black bean burritos in bulk and freeze (I tried to copy what my husband gets at Chipotle), you can make breakfast burritos, pizza pockets, etc.

I also bought a bag of frozen chicken tenders and just fried them all up this afternoon. These are good cold, filled with protein and are better for you than chicken nuggets (even though they are fried).

Instead of quick breads make large muffins in double batches and freeze. They thaw in no time and if you use whole wheat flour and add wheat germ and flax seed, they are healthy and fill you up. peanut butter chocolate chip muffins are the best.

How about eggs? Keep some boiled around or teach them to scramble a few up at a time. Fast, easy, healthy and filling.

Also, my 10 year old loves to snack on cereal. It is more filling than some other snacks, not bad for you at all (I don't buy sugar cereals) and I can get it pretty cheaply by stocking up on loss leader sales. Good luck! In 8 years I will have 4 teens myself.

JeannaMO said...

One thing I use to make for a quick meal/snack is to make a package of Ramen noodles (and drain) (so cheap!) and then instead of adding that salty package of season, add some jarred spaghetti sauce (like Prego is thick) and that makes a quick cheapo spaghetti that fills you up better than ramen noodle. You could even top with a little cheese. The ramen noodles cook up faster than spaghetti pasta.

Frugalhomekeeping said...

I have raised two sons who are now in their 20's and my youngest son is 15 so I've been "riding this train" for a while. I agree that the snacks are more like meals! I found it helpful to keep recipes for very fast prep food, handy. Just by coincidence, I had put three of those emergency, very filling, recipes on my blog today! One uses beef hotdogs, one uses ramen, and one is a pasta dish (in the microwave). Good luck with those hungry teenagers!

km said...

Those look great. My oldest (7) saw a Tostinos commercial and has been begging for them. I can't justify that junk. These pizza snacks both look great. And I won't feel like they're eating chemicals.

Tracy said...

I don't have a teenager yet but those are awesome resipes Gayle! Thanks!

Duckygirl said...

There will come a day when I will have EIGHT between the ages of 10-20, my food bill will be enormous!

Katchmo said...

Right now I have four teenagers! Yes it almost seems impossible to keep them full, but I do let them fix their own snacks and keep a supply of healthy stuff on hand. Peanut butter sandwiches, salad, eggs, and oatmeal are the usuals. BTW I have a post on my blog on how to de-gas beans. It really works!

Jen - Balancing beauty and bedlam said...

Yep - With five of those huge eaters (yes, even my little girl), I sure do know those meals. These are great ideas.
Looking at the first comment, your digestive system gets used to legumes after a few times....so you have to bare with it. Make sure you soak them and then it's not nearly as bad. Beans are awesome. Love black beans!! I do lots of recipes around this topic with 3 big boy eaters myself. :)

Mrs. B, a very peculiar person said...

My kidos also like "mini pizzas".

English muffins (homemade or from the day old bread store) topped with homemade pizza sauce (tomato paste, water, garlic powder, onion powder, dried oregano, dried basil, salt), grated cheese, peperoni (optional). Assemble mini pizzas place on baking sheet and freeze. Once frozen transfer several to large zip lock bags & store in freezer.

To bake place in a toaster oven or in the regular oven (425 degrees) for 5-8 minutes.

Mrs. B

Anonymous said...

Great ideas. One thing my 17 year old son will eat is salad. I try to have a bowl of salad in the fridge, or a bag of prepared salad, because it's one of the few things he will fix for himself.

I am still surprised, though, with some of the things that will dissappear from the fridge - especially leftovers I was planning to take for lunch the next day! String beans, broccoli, stir-fry - all eaten cold of course!

Selina Gasolina said...

Re the beans and methane issue: farts are caused by improperly digested proteins - there is an enzyme you need to have in your intestinal flora. You can introduce it - your healthfood store or pharmacy will have a product called "Beano" for this purpose.

Frugalhayman said...

Thanks for posting this! I have 4 boys! One of the four will be a teenager in a month! Needed some meal ideas for him to munch on!