If you have a house full of teens that are always hungry, then you know that keeping them full can be quite a challenge. The idea for this post came from another blog I read a while back, the writer was asking for help with with keeping her teens full, I thought to myself, I can help with that! I had three teens only 3 years apart, and 2 of them boys, it was a challenge to stay in budget and keep them happy, but somehow we managed to do it. So I thought I would write about the topic here, since the post there was very old.
What I found with my kids, is if I fed them highly refined foods, that were not very filling, even if they were cheap, they would eat far too many of them. Sadly these types of foods didn’t fill them up, and do not nourish the body, so the tendency is to over eat the empty calories.
The other issue was getting them to eat it. I found there was a certain criteria, for getting them to eat foods, all the more important given the fact that teens tend to be grazers, they just never seem to stop eating sometimes. As any parent of a teen will tell you, keeping fresh produce in the house is not enough, teens need more solid calories than they will get from produce alone, and if like us, you are on a budget this can be challenging, since denser calorie, high protein foods usually cost a lot more.
Here are a few tips and ideas to fill your house with foods that will be frugal, healthy and satisfying to your bottomless pits.
Tips For Choosing Foods That Will Satisfy Your Hungry Teen
1) It has to be easy for them to fix – not too many teens will take the time to cook much, so it is very important that in between big meal snacks or mini meals, be quick to fix, or they are more likely to pass them up for chips or some other type of junk food.
2) It can be healthy but it must be disguised as a “junk food” because healthy and snacking rarely go together in a teens vocabulary. These foods can also be very frugal.
3) Be prepared to do some prep work, to accomplish the two goals above.
4) Grab and go foods usually work best, Most kids these days are pretty busy, so they appreciate food they can heat up and take with them.
5) It should be filling. This is a really important point, because if it is not filling, they will like as not be back into that kitchen before too long, wreaking havoc to your pantry. Things that have a large amount of fiber and/or protein are your best bet, they will fill them up and keep them full longer.
6) You need to think about storage, because teens eat a lot, and frequently. We had 2 freezers, one that was filled with our basic stores such as meats, and vegetables, and a second freezer that was filled full with “convenience foods” hand made by mom.
Examples For You to Try
When my teens were home, we had several tried and true recipes and techniques that kept them fed well for not too much money.
- Mini Pizzas – Sometimes I used a white wheat crust sometimes a whole wheat crust, it really depended on the budget at the time, whole wheat obviously is much more filling these can also be made on english muffins, or mini french breads, if you are not comfortable with making pizza doughs. The trick is to fill the pizza with filling ingredients, a homemade sauce is easy to make, and top it with veggies and lean meats. I often used diced ham as it was cheaper than canadian bacon and leaner than sausage or pepperoni. Mozzarella cheese can be bought in bulk at warehouse stores for a reasonable price, and with mini pizzas not a lot of cheese is needed, a little goes a long way.
- Burritos – These are an excellent choice since they are full mostly with refried beans, that are inexpensive, low fat, and filled with fiber so they are very filling. The shells can be home-made or store bought, white or wheat, depending on preference, time and budget. again add a bit of meat, it does not have to be hamburger, chicken or turkey work well for this too, a small bit of cheese if you desire, salsa, veggies, and you have a very filling meal for a starving teen.
- Pocket Sandwiches – Again this is a very good choice, they are easy, and cheap to make, they are easy for your teen to warm up, and can be filled with a very flexible, and varied combination of ingredients. This is another snack you can sneak veggies into, with no trouble, for added nutrition, and also can be whole wheat or white.
- Bagels – Easy and cheap to make, don’t buy the ones in the store. They are expensive and are not nearly so filling as the ones you can make at home. Keep a large variety of these in the freezer, and keep cream cheese and meats in your fridge for a quick on the go snack. These also lend very well to whole wheat if it is in your budget, which makes them much more filling.
A few other things our freezer used to hold:
Chili and soups in a cup
An assortment of breakfast foods
All of these were inexpensive to make, and kept my kids happy thru their growing up years.
While it all takes a bit of work, most of these can be made in one weekend by prepping everything at one time, and assembling them together. Get your teens to help by shredding cheese, cutting vegetables, and stirring soups, and chilis. Most of them are eager to help when they realize it means a large freezer filled with good foods for them!!
Of a family of six we are down to only one child now, and she is not yet such a big eater, so the rules for us have changed, but I think back to those mass cooking sessions, and filling a freeze full with awe, wondering how 3 teens could eat so much!
Photo by: JazarellaMozarella