I am being a “Mean Mom” this week.
Im not going to let my 18 year old – who “Cant wait to move out” eat any of the food we purchased for our family this week. I am not cooking for him. He isn’t allowed to use any of our milk, bread, lunch meat, cereal, NOTHING. For one entire week.
What did I do for him instead?
• I went and picked him up from work last Thursday and took him out to lunch. My treat.
• I sat with him and figured out what he is making per month at his current job working about 20-25 hours a week at minimum wage.
• I then deducted from that amount – what the average rent will be, electricity costs, cable/internet/bus fare/etc.
• He found out that after all of the bills and rent get paid – he would have $20 per WEEK to live on for food.
• I then sat with him while he made a meal plan for breakfast / lunch / dinner for 7 days – and then we wrote a list of the things he would need to get to make those meals.
• I then spent 2 hours at the grocery store with him while he walked down the isle looking for the things that were on his list and helped him see the cost difference between name brands and generic.
• I gave him $50 total to use for the weeks worth of food. $30 more than his current job would provide for him.
• He managed to get everything he needed for $49
( 1 package of bagels - 1 box of cereal - lunch meat - loaf of bread - a box of crackers - 1 lb of hamburger - 16 tortillas - 1 lb of ground turkey – - 1 bag of “Crispy crowns” potatoes - 1 can of cream of chicken soup - 1 can of chicken broth - 1 box of pasta noodles - 1 jar of pasta sauce - a gallon of milk - Pancake mix - 1 pack taco seasoning - 1 pound block of cheese - a box of granola bars (12 count) - bag of potatoes
His meal plan:
Breakfasts for the week – pancakes or bagels or cereal
Lunches – sandwiches or quesadillas
Dinners – Tacos, Pasta and Turkey Casserole.
Snacks – crackers/cheese and granola bars)
• For one entire week – he will be cooking his own dinners and my husband and I are going to show him how to make the dishes he wants to learn to cook. But he has to only use HIS ingredients. He is not allowed to use or eat any of our food in the home.
• He is going to have to make his snack food choices last 7 days. He is going to have to make his bread last a week. He is going to have to ration his gallon of milk etc.
After spending 4 hours with his Mom showing him his current financial situation, teaching him how much food actually costs, showing him how much bills will actually be etc…he has decided he is going to pursue getting more hours at his current job or looking for another job that will provide more hours and possibly benefits!
** We are on Day 7 today with this week long adventure and I thought I would share how the week went and some of his thoughts on everything.
The night before our week was to start:
He wanted to learn how to bake cookie bars. So I taught him how to read the recipe, measure, sift, stir without flinging it everywhere, portion and check to see if they are done. He got half of the dough for himself and the family got the other half. He used the household’s ingredients so he had to share with the rest of us.
Day 1: He ate his bagel in the morning and went to work – came home and asked me to teach him how to make tacos. He learned how to make sure the meat was cooked through and through and then learned how to portion his taco (instead of dumping a half pound of meat in his tortilla like he usually does with the family dinners) so that there was enough for him and his girlfriend and then leftovers for one more days worth of dinner.
He had saved a couple of his cookie bars to have for desert with his girlfriend. (I think he got extra points for that.)
Day 2: He went to a friends house and ended up eating some of their food. (To be honest – if it had been me at 18, I would have done the same!)
Day 3: My husband and Daughter and I were gone all day and past dinner time so he was on his own. He had these options: Sandwiches, quesadillas or go wild with his ingredients and create something.
He states he had a sandwich for dinner. I wasn’t home – so I have no idea.
Day 4: He worked 9 hours today and came home and I helped him make his favorite turkey casserole. He is stoked that he now knows my “secret” and that he got an entire pan all to himself.
He came home from work and had me teach him how to make pasta with white sauce. He was overjoyed to find that cooking the entire package means he has dinner for almost 3 days.
I schooled him on “Trades” between roommates for future references.
I reminded him that if this were actually a roommate situation and he wanted something from his roommates selection of food because he didn’t have any of his own – that he should never just “take it” and hope they don’t notice – because his actual roommates would NOT be nice about finding that some of their food had been raided and he would have to then deal with 1. Roommates that will no longer trust him 2. Having to deal with the fact that those roommates may have had plans for their food for something special or making a meal with a friend 3. That those roommates may be on a very strict budget with their food as well and though it might not seem like a big deal to take a couple of pieces of their bread – it may mean that they end up not getting to eat that day.
I let him know that it is very common for roommates to “Trade” items with each other so that next time – if he feels like he would like something from our pantry – he is welcome to come ASK to trade something of his for something of the family foods.
I think he got it. I hope so anyway.
We then traded one of his granola bars for a glass of our fresh pressed apple cider.
I have never seen a kid so eager to “Visit Grandparents” as I did today when I said “Grandma invited us to dinner at her house tonight…wanna go?”
Grandma’s home made beef pot pie was scarfed down in a matter of moments and then seconds and possibly thirds were had.
This is our last day of our adventure. He will be eating his left over pasta tonight and still has plenty of milk, crackers and bread/lunch meat left over. I am really proud of him!
“I could have passed on the cereal, crackers, potatoes and pancake mix and saved myself some money!
I learned some valuable skills – how to budget my money for food, how to cook some things and I got to spend some time with my mom.”
All in all – I think we were successful :)