Feeding teenage boys was one of the most challenging things I have ever done in my life!
There's a special recognition amongst parents who have done it or are currently in the thick of it. We sigh and shake our heads in utter disbelief. It's a phenomenon that some may never experience, but those that have will never forget it!
This study backs up that which I have long known: teenage boys can eat the same amount of calories in one sitting that is the equivalent of my daily recommended intake! When a lad can eat 2000 calories in one sitting (and I had two lads!) you've got to bulk up your meal times with every known carb available and our dinner table became a regular smorgasbord of meat dishes, pasta, rice, breads and potatoes. The boys would regularly have second or third helpings and I watched in sheer amazement as these human vacuums continually devoured massive amounts of food.
Every day of my life became a grand scale food production - my sons could readily eat 10 tacos apiece (that's almost a box of shells each!) and they'd easily put away 2-3 chicken schnitzels or kievs along with large helpings of pasta, bread, potatoes and salads on the side. I had to be meticulously organised and planning ahead was imperative to survive (and to stick to the budget!). If I was in the kitchen, I was in the kitchen and every burner was fired up as well as every oven rack filled. I would often cook and freeze something extra in preparation for another meal. I doubled everything, especially casseroles and mince dishes and anything that could be frozen.
These were crazy days and everything grew in size! I bought bigger dinner plates and larger pots. I bought a bigger fridge and a second freezer. I bought electronic gadgets to help me with the alchemy that was required to fill these ravenous beasts up! Flour into dough, pastry, breads. Rice in 5kg bags and sacks of potatoes! My grocery shopping involved filling one (or two) trolleys with food and always invited comment from passers-by, "I'm glad I'm not paying for that!"
My home also filled up with other ravenous beasts in the form of mates and I swear these guys just travelled in packs from fridge to fridge foraging for leftovers. They'd often just "happen to be passing by" around dinner time too, but they were always welcome and there was always enough food. When you cook the way I did there was always something to share. And I liked it that way. It kept me cooking on the days of drudgery when I'd think, "I just can't do this anymore". There were plenty of those days but my dinner table was a lively place of love, laughter and open communication and I loved the hordes that gathered there. I cannot emphasis the importance of sharing food each day at dinner time in regards to building solid relationships with your kids (and their friends!)
My life has changed dramatically now and I've sent the beasts out into the world to fend for themselves. Mostly, they go okay on their own but they'll still wander by on occasion and check my fridge for leftovers. And even as adults, the mates still come and visit too and I am kept updated with the news of their lives.
Twenty years ago, I had no idea what I was in for. I couldn't find a good collection of recipes that I could make from a stockpile of cheap staples. There was no "Starter Kit" or "Congratulations, You Just Birthed a Bottomless Pit - Here's What You Need to Know" books. So with only very basic cooking knowledge, I started creating and stockpiling my own collection of recipes that I could make from a fundamental list of staple ingredients.
My pantry has contained the same ingredients for years now -- the basic staples, herbs and spices and sauces. I never bought things prepackaged, everything was made from scratch and nothing went to waste. These are the recipes that I kept coming back to, the ones that were well received and the ones that kept the beasts sated and happy (and communicative). This is the shopping list that I worked from on a fortnightly rotation, sometimes stretching it to the extreme. This is it,
This is Michelle's Kitchen..
I hope that it helps other parents who find themselves overwhelmed by the appetites of their offspring. I have also created it with the idea of passing on the favourite recipes to my sons and their mates as they all find a way to be adults and manage their own lives.