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There’s Nothing to Eat! My Teens Think There’s No Food in the House

I love food. I’ve always been one of those people who lives to eat. I’ve never been a picky eater and food shopping is something I actually enjoy. I look forward to Sunday dinner like it’s Christmas.

There were four kids in the house when I was growing up. We lived out in the sticks, so going to the grocery store was a lot of work for my mom and she only went twice a month. Sometimes my siblings and I had to get creative with our snacks and meals. But it never phased us and we never went hungry. We loved creating our own variations on things, like making English muffin pizzas or using bologna as a substitute for bread when we ran out.

Where we lived, food delivery was rare. And I don’t remember gas stations being filled with pre-made sandwiches, pizza, nachos, hot dogs, and every kind of fountain drink you can imagine. There just weren’t as many food choices in general as there are today. Which is why I think my kids are constantly complaining there isn’t any “good food” in our house. They’ve seen what’s out there—and they want all of it. Now.

Feeding Teens: The Eternal Struggle

Keeping the refrigerator and pantry stocked with three teens in the house is a job on its own. I’ve learned over the years that it’s impossible to have “good food” in the house all the time. So I’ve stopped trying. These days, when my kids tell me there isn’t anything to eat in the house, I just tune them out and go about my business. 

In fact, my son said that dreaded phrase to me the other day: “There isn’t anything good to eat.” You know what I found in our house? Three kinds of chicken nuggets, French fries, frozen pizzas, three kinds of ice cream, four different kinds of chips, more snack mix than I care to admit, cold cuts, fresh fruit, ten different flavors of yogurt, leftover chili that I’d made the night before, and I’d just pulled an apple crisp from the oven.

I literally can’t think of any kind of food that I left out. And that was just at first glance. We always have staples like rice, peanut butter, cereal, and granola bars.

When my teens say there’s no “good food” in the house, what they are really saying is, “I’m craving something and we don’t have it.” Or,  “I want something from a restaurant, so none of this is doing it for me.”

Which I understand, sort of, but I am not a butler, or an on-call DoorDash delivery driver who will get them whatever they want at a moment’s notice. So I refuse to go to the store on demand to cater to craving of the moment. If you ask me, there’s nothing wrong with expecting our kids get creative and make do with what’s on hand. By the time I was in high school, I could make a meal out of whatever I found in the refrigerator. And I won’t even get into all the creative things my friends and I did in college with packets of instant ramen noodles.

I admit, there have been times when I’ve caved and spent loads of money at the store to get everything I could think of that would make my kids happy. But my hopes of curbing their complaining about the lack of nourishment in our house didn’t work. This tells me there’s nothing I can do to please them—so why try? I’m good as long as I have my hidden stash of Lindt chocolate truffles and Cheez-Its, so they can figure it out for themselves.

I’ve also told them, time and time again, that when I buy a food they’ve asked for, or bring home something new they’re really excited to try, that it’s up to them to make it last until I go to the store again. When it’s gone, it’s gone and, contrary to what they’d have me believe, running out of Hot Cheetos isn’t an emergency. 

According to my poor kids, all of their friends have gobs of wonderful food in their houses, available to them at all times. But I’m sure there are other moms like me—ones who refuse to make daily shopping trips in order to keep their house stocked like a gas station superstore. I know you’re out there, somewhere, hoarding your own stash of chocolate and ignoring out the complaints. Stay strong!

Katie Bingham-Smith had three kids in three years and crafts herself silly in order to stay sane. She loves to write, wear faux leather pants, eat at burger joints, and make beautiful things. You can see more on her Facebook and Instagram.

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