Beating the Summer Whine of Hungry Teenagers without Busting Your Budget


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It's summer time and the living is easy or so they say. Maybe that's somebody's point-of-view, but at my house the whining begins the first full day of summer vacation.

After working all day the first thing I would hear when arriving home is, “there's nothing in this house to eat" the second is, “we're bored!"

Initially I was more than a little upset. What could they mean there is nothing to eat? I'd just spent half my paycheck laying in enough supplies to last a lifetime or at least a week. Recovering from this shock my kids and I had some conversation. What I learned was:

1. When they are bored all there is to do is open the refrigerator. I've seen this in action and if there's more than one kid in the house it is comical to watch.

2. When they are actually hungry because it's mealtime they want to find something to eat that doesn't require any work on their part. Ha!

3. Just because one of them started a new diet which includes only whole grains and fresh fruit that doesn't mean the other would even touch the stuff. I should've bought junk food.

4. The other kid decided not to stay on the diet but forgot to mention it in the grocery so . . the whole grains are being ignored and fresh fruit is growing fuzz in the bottom drawer of the ‘fridge.

So rethink your strategy when shopping for their daytime food and I know it sounds frightening, but try to think like a teenager.

1. Canned food is a lifesaver and quickly cuts the whining. Hopefully my kids have the strength and know-how to use a can opener even though ours is the old-fashioned, crank-it-yourself kind.

2. Microwave dinners offer a larger variety but I gulp when I see the price. The portion size does not seem to justify the cost.

To get past the microwave meal sticker shock I found a cookbook for kids with recipes geared toward using the microwave. This neat book is simple to use and the ingredients list won't break your budget, but the best part is that it gets kids involved with making their own meals. It takes a little time which they have plenty of and entertains for awhile.

3. Plan for leftovers. When you shop and when you fix supper plan ahead for several days or longer if you have a freezer.

If you cook half-again what you would normally fix for supper that could translate into lunch a couple of days later. In my house popular leftovers include: meatloaf, alfredo, pot roast and goulash. There are terrific containers with sections like a tv dinner. They go from freezer or ‘fridge to the microwave in a snap.

4. Finger or snack food doesn't have to mean junk food.

Even picky teenagers will dive into the refrigerator for a plastic bag of vegetables but only if the veggies are already washed, cut to length and accompanied by the dip of their choice.

There are many other ways the kids can fill their time during summer break. All it takes is some research and planning. Check out Children's Discount Bookstore to find some wonderful ideas for crafts, kid's cookbooks or cooking kits, maps, books and toys created especially for kids of all ages suffering from summer boredom. Although the kids might not agree, vacation from school doesn't necessarily mean they can't learn something. The idea is to create fun and excitement while “learning" sneaks in the back door!

Joanne Robbins is an internet publisher with many sites including where you'll find some of the ideas presented here to help conquer summer boredom. Read her Blog for more information


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