We’ve created the best teenage hangout on the block, but with it has come the ‘wilder-beast!’ So I’ve had to brainstorm cheap meal ideas to keep our budget in tact while we’re feeding half the neighborhood.
At first, it was pretty hit and miss, so an awful lot of good food was going to waste. Not to mention hours of my time as I stood in the kitchen preparing. Seriously, I’d never met so many veggie phoebes – and unless it came in a takeaway packet, it just wasn’t getting anywhere near their stomachs!
So I’ll start will the crowd favorite and that’s the humble baked potato. I’ve learned to allow 3 medium spuds for each six foot teenaged boy and let them top it themselves (that’s the key). Then they can put as much, or as little, of whatever they like on top. It’s surprising how teens who hate veggies will devour a baked spud topped with baked beans!
All I do is put the oven on high, spike the potatoes with a fork about half a dozen times and wrap them in foil. They take about an hour to cook through properly. While this is happening I prepare the topping. The beauty about this meal is that you can basically use whatever you’ve got or buy toppings specifically for your spuds. I keep baked beans, pineapple, grated cheese, butter and sour cream in the house just in case. However, when I pre-plan the meal, I’ll buy bacon and coleslaw. I cook up the bacon with a bit of garlic and unbeknownst to them, they love it!
Another crowd pleaser at our place is finger food. If I’m not expecting the heard, then I’ll put out trays of toasted sandwiches filled with basic stuff like cheese, ham or tomatoes and they literally vanish in seconds. Plus, I always make sure there’s bread and toppings like Vegemite, peanut butter and jam accessible so they can find something to eat 24/7.
Dim Sims are another food staple for this lot. When we’re really strapped for cash, I’ll buy Homebrand dim sims ($4 for 20) and steam them. Surprisingly, even the fussiest eaters will load up on dim sims, so they are great value for money. Other Homebrand products like chicken nuggets, chips and even meat patties are great to have on hand for emergencies – specifically because they get eaten.
Ironically, I used to spend valuable time and money making home made veggie slices and lovingly prepared meals, but they didn’t get eaten by everyone and at least half of my effort was ending up in the bin.
Homemade fast food
Alternately, I make home made pizzas, sausage rolls, pies and fast food type meals which can be made in bulk, in advance and frozen. That’s great when, and if, I have the time (and the cash), but if I don’t, other foods such as bacon and egg muffins and items that can be purchased at McDonald’s also get gobbled up.
I’ve discovered that feeding a crowd of fussy teenagers on a budget is pretty easy. It’s simply a matter of providing foods that they will actually eat. Basically, teens live on fast food and takeaway when they are out. So I figure, if I provide similar foods I won’t be wasting money, time or energy preparing foods that will ultimately end up in the bin.
Would I prefer that they eat my veggie slices? Absolutely. But I’d rather prepare it specifically for my teens who I know will eat it, rather than see it end up as scraps.
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