This topic is for discussing childcare options. If you want to advertise, please use your Local site.

I am worried I will have to double budget for food with new au pair - HELP!

(28 Posts)
cheesecakemom Mon 22-Jul-13 21:19:52

We have a new au pair and she has been up front and said she eats a lot. Even my husband who eats for England (although very slim) doesn't eat as much as the au pair.

We have a toddler and I cook everything for her from scratch. I prefer to stick to organic food (especially meat) with her but we will eat anything most of the time.

I have told her to help herself when she is hungry - but it seems all the fruit I bought less than a week ago is gone [she said my daughter ate a whole banana which never does]. My daughter loves apples, they are all gone - I am surprised how quick. All the bananas are gone, apples, pears, strawberries, blueberries are gone. I only got this stuff on Friday (today is monday) I had to go out for more and the berries are almost gone. She is not so keen on kiwi fruit I guess.

We don't drink tea/ coffee and only ever have juice. Our favourite costs 2 for £4 for the big bottles, I found it on offer buy one get one free and bought 4 bottles to last two weeks, normally i get only 2 per week. All 4 are gone - I went out again and bought 2 more and we are down to one - and only half of that is left. We tend to drink that only in the morning with breakfast. Our au pair drinks it like water. I can't spend £20 a week on juice alone, because it looks like I may have to do that.

How do I tell her to slow down on the juice because at this rate I won't afford any juice at all. I thought maybe if we just buy robinsons so we can tell her to drink that during the day (we normally drink water) and freshly squeezed juice for breakfast only as we do? Would that be too harsh? Or getting her cheaper juice for other times of the day?

I haven't seen her trying to make tea or anything - we have some for visitors. She has had all my yoghurt too. She eats two bowls of cereal in the morning. She seems to have a hot meal at lunch too - I generally have a sandwich/ salad/ something light. Then has another hot meal with us a dinner and snacks during the day.

I am just amazed by how much she eats, we might end up with no food before the end of the week. What do I do without offending her. I obviously don't want her to starve but I don't want her eating all our favourite foods in two-three days [meant for a week].
I normally don't buy junk but do I buy things like muffins, crisps etc for her to snack on? She also wastes food - and suggested throwing away my daughter's juice to make room for water when going out [she had only just put the juice in the cup]. Maybe it's just me, but I don't know what to do.

I read elsewhere other mothers suggested labelling food - that just seems strange. Others suggested to have your own cupboard where all your special foods go - again this is strange. Anyway - any input is appreciated. I don't want to offend her but I also want to be able to still eat something. I realise we have to increase out budget [which we have] but maybe I am going about this the wrong way. Should I prepare all meals? We tend to eat after my daughter sleeps but she is saying she eats early and is starving by 7 or 8. So do I cook early for her [this might not be possible with my schedule] - or cook for the week and freeze meals. My last au pair ate as we did so I'm a bit lost.

alice93 Mon 22-Jul-13 23:05:42

I used to be an au pair a while ago, and I felt like I ate them out of house and home. But I knew my place with what I could and couldn't help myself to. I must say though, it is hard, as an au pair you get bored, and you boredom eat. The family I worked for lived in a ski-resort so there were lots of nanny's there, everyone used to say "you're too skinny to be a nanny!" because generally you eat more from boredom.

Anyway, you should give her options for food each meal time.
Warn her about the amount of juice she is drinking: once its gone, its gone, and its meant to last you, your husband and her a week! If you eat something at lunch, make her the same and serve it so she has no choice.

Me and the mum used to love drinking perrier with grenadine, but once it became clear I could drink far more than her, she started saying I should buy my own, and keep it in the house for when I wanted to drink something (I actually had my own separate apartment next door with my own kitchen and a fridge that was always empty!) But maybe take her shopping with you, so that she can do her own shop, (and pay for it) so she can have things she wants in the house, and can eat/drink them at will.

About the fruit, we had things like this. The mum would buy things "for the baby" and only for the baby. For us it was the sweet potatoes and courgettes. No one could touch them apart from to make food for the baby. Make it clear to her that the baby has a special diet and food like fruit needs to be saved for her.

For your dinners, like her, I got hungry earlier on, and used to eat with the toddler. I mainly ate soup for dinner that was pre made and stored for the week. If I was babysitting that night, i'd eat later because I know I'd be tempted to snack on their food. The mum used to give me options on things to eat in the evenings, for example "you can make some crepes or here is some fruit".

It is hard, and I imagine the parents I worked for got annoyed about the food bill. I definitely remember the husband complaining to the wife that I kept taking pieces of his chocolate.

Hope this sheds some light for you! smile

LadyHarrietdeSpook Mon 22-Jul-13 23:09:44

Firstly- it may well be homesickness and she might settle down. This is a homesickness symptom.

Secondly, tell her you do a meal plan and what you are having on which days for dinner so you can count on the provisions being there when you need them. Then say to her: what would you like for lunch? Give her a few options as suggestions. I would be honest if she asks for things like meat twice a day if you don't eat that yourselves normally. She is living as part of a family but YOUR family. You can't give her worse rations than you would have but she needs to respect what goes in your home.

I am in two minds about the fruit. If you need it fit the children's abacus buy a bit more but tell her how much you need for them in the week. Put it like that: we need to make sure the Dcs have xyz through the week.

Where us she from?

NomDeClavier Mon 22-Jul-13 23:24:55

I never managed to solve this problem with juice. We did 'once it's gone it's gone' but then DH got narky. It was a live in nanny but I would perhaps have expected a bit more awareness from her than a teenager unused to our cultural norms.

Fruit I used to put out an allowance for the day for DS and ask her what she wanted at the same time so it was clear that his breakfast and hers were together, his lunch and hers, free choice at dinner. And comment loudly 'oh good, there are peaches left for tomorrow' or similar.

Food is difficult if you have a faddy eater or someone with expensive tastes and there's very little you can do to maintain quality when they're increasing quantity and your budget is relatively fixed.

TerribleTantrums Mon 22-Jul-13 23:25:30

Can you buy loads of pasta, potatoes, rice and noodles and use those to bulk up her meals? Wholemeal pasta will keep her full for longer, and rice and noodles can be bought cheaply in large quantities if you have an Asian supermarket nearby.

What is her diet in her home country? There's probably some starchy carb that she is used to eating that she could cook herself for lunch with, perhaps, sausages or other cheap-ish protein. I would suggest lentils, but lots of people don't like them.

littlecrystal Tue 23-Jul-13 00:23:56

I had exactly similar live out nanny. I would load up the fridge and the cupboards on Sunday and the fridge would be empty by Tuesday evening. She especially "loved" our juice, yogurt and fruits, then also would finish all delicacies very quickly. This was on top of the normal lunch and dinner - I used to leave it pre-prepared for the quantity what I would consider family of 4, and when she looked after our then 4 and 2yo kids, there was NEVER any leftover of what I cooked.
I used to ask her "is there any specific food that you would like me to buy for you?" having in mind if I buy specifically for her, she would not eat as much of other food. She would say "no, there isn't".
I talked to her about this. It changed for a week and then went back to usual self. She used to say that children had lots of fruit, or lots of yogurt for snacks. My patience ended when the whole new pack of Kingsmill bread was finished off during the day, this was on top of proper meals and other snacks, and I couldn't even find the bag in our bin.

I sacked her, and she didn't dare to say a word. I made a conclusion that she stole our food and perhaps carried home to her boyfriend.
I loathe her up to now.

As yours is au-pair, it is obvious that she eats it, not steels. However in my opinion this is totally wrong from her side. I would just say "this juice is for a week, can you make sure you split evenly and it lasts a week" and offer to buy any specific food that she likes. If you see that she does not adjust, I would not keep her as an au-pair though.

cheesecakemom Tue 23-Jul-13 08:02:25

Thank you so much. Food is a difficult topic. I have asked if there's anything specific she likes and she said NO. From now on I will specifically state what is for DD and that the rest should last us .... days.
We have plenty of pasta, rice and even lentils, couscous and quinoa!
We also have a lot of veg which I haven't seen her use.

A friend has also suggested buying a lot of snacks for her, like crisps, chocolates, fizzy drinks etc for her to have during the day if she is ravenous.

EasterHoliday Tue 23-Jul-13 17:08:35

assuming she's at home much more than you / your husband (because you need someone at home to look after the children for you) then yes, why wouldn't you need to double your food budget? she's having three meals a day at your home - I only have one for eg. Au pairs are incredibly cheap / good value for the amount they do (sweeping generalisation alert, I know), and feeding them is just part of that bargain - your household bills are going to be bigger too but you can't ask her to shower on alternate days / turn off the lights after 9pm. It probably only needs to be pointed out that you do the shopping on a weekly basis and it needs to last - perhaps she's over excited at the abundance of fresh organic fruit & is going wild for it without realising (get her to take the children to a pick your own as a fun holiday activity!)

I'm not an au pair and don't have an au pair, but I do eat a lot more than most people I know so I hope ypu dont mind me commenting. Fruit wouldn't cut it for me so I'd start raiding your cupboards too grin

Could you stock up on 'stodge' - bread for toast, range of cereals, crumpets, crisps, etc so that there are things she could snack on that are cheap & you won't miss? Definitely get squash for 'daytime' and reserve juice for mornings.

Could you also pin a rough meal plan to the fridge? Maybe a list of breakfasts, lunches, dinners, snacks so that she can see how it is supposed to last you?

I think it is down to communication. Most of our APs have been v reasonable re food, including the current male AP. He eats a lot, but excess consumption is limited to bread, bananas and nutella! And is very considerate about using up stuff. We do have a bread machine which gets A LOT of use, but is quite economical.

We had one AP who was massive and food obsessed. I have posted about her before. I lost it on one occasion when I found she had eaten a bag of 12 salmon steaks ("You eat soup, salad, leftovers etc for lunch...not 2 big full meals" was the rant). She also cooked ridiculous portions (750g pasta for 2). We shoudl have been more specific about what was ok / not ok at an early stage. I think she had huge issues...she was also the only AP we have had who was money obsessed. I think she was spending a lot on food. We did have a bit of a pasta lesson---I weighed out 100g per person -- and she obviously thought I was wierd.

forevergreek Tue 23-Jul-13 17:45:55

I think if she is just eating an average amount you have to suck it up I'm afraid

Like others said she is home for all meals and snacks/ drinks compared to your one/ two, so bills going to be higher

I dont think eating fruit lots is that bad. I mean in 4 days you say it was all gone but I'm assuming that's 3 adults and one child eating
6 apples, 4 pears, x2 boxes berries, bunch on bananas. That's probably not even x2 pieces each a day

As an example atm Dh, myself and ds's age 2 and 3, will use 3 bananas, a box of blueberries, and an apple just at breakfast on granola. In 4 days that's 12 bananas, 4 apples and x4 boxes blueberries, without including any other fruit.

A box of organic strawberries really only has 12 strawberries or similar.

Our fruit salad for after dinner this eve will be 1 small cantaloupe melon, 3 kiwis, 1/2 box strawberries

Why don't you sit down and ask what she eats back home, maybe could she show you some traditional dishes etc.

could she make some healthy muffins each week with your toddler which both gets toddler entertained and snacks made. Courgette and carrot, cheese and spinach etc, print some easy recipes. We make peacan and coconut oat cookies here which and simple, healthy, and filling

GherkinsAreAce Tue 23-Jul-13 18:45:03

With our last two ap I was very clear and said to her she could help herself to anything she liked, but:

1) certain foods were for cooking and I would show her at the start of the week what I was saving for certain meals.

2) certain things were for toddler DS - eg at least one cucumber and one box of tomatoes to be saved for him and a linnet of strawberries.

3) if anything was finished or nearly finished she had to tell me so I could replace it (disincentive to just scoff loads of everything)

4) made sure there was always masses of bread and crumpet to toast and spreads, along with stacks of satsumas and bananas.

5) if something was guzzled too fast I didn't buy it again.

6) always asked her what food she wanted and bought it, within reason of course!!

Cathyrina Wed 24-Jul-13 10:25:17

I have a friend who NEVER drinks water, only juice all the time and I don't think it' possible to change that. It's important to drink lots especially in this weather and maybe she just doesn't like water. I'd buy cheaper juice or this sort of thing you have to mix with water or if it's empty simply leave it like that for a while and she will either have to get used to drink something else or buy her own juice for those days.

BetterToLaugh Wed 24-Jul-13 10:56:53

If I were you I would definately explain to her about the juice because that's a ridiculous amount to spend on juice! I wonder do you have a water filter jug to put in the fridge? I'm a bit of a fuss pot about tap water and will only drink it from the filter. Then it's also nice and cold for her to make squash.

This sounds a bit mean but you could buy lots of smart price type snacks and decant them into tupperware so doesn't look too obvious that you're buying it cheap to keep up with her. Tell her the things in tupperware are snacks that she can eat as much as she likes and that the things in cupboards and for the whole family to enjoy.

With the meals, I would probably leave a note on the fridge such as 'planning on doing a chickn curry for dinner, if you don't want this today help yourself to x amount of chicken and save the rest. Thanks'

dufflefluffle Wed 24-Jul-13 11:07:49

Is she a teenager? I had an au pair years ago and DSD staying at the same time (when PFB was only a few months old) - I couldn't get over how much they ate and basically if it was there they hoovered it. I do remember being an au pair and feeling like I was starving all the time - maybe it was my age (teen) but I'm pretty sure the mother could've written your post. I think while you have her staying you need to adjust your buying. I eventually got the hang of making flapjacks and stocking up on apples and bananas for the au pair and dsd so they could fill up on those and wouldn't dream of having juice in the fridge because it would of course go the way of your juice. It's probably a taste of what it's going to be like when you have your own teens in the house!

cheesecakemom Wed 24-Jul-13 11:14:20

Thanks for the feedback - we got double the amount of fruit and we didn't have any barely. She ate the rest alone in about 3 days. In any case, I have followed some of the advice here and bought a lot of cheap snacks we usually don't eat like crisps, muffins, biscuits, chocolate, burgers, rolls, pies etc and cleared an area for her snacks. We always have bread, but I haven't seen her eat it. We tend to make our own pancakes too for breakfast. I got more fruit for her and put aside some specifically for DD. I also got some squash for during the day and explained juice for breakfast. We are getting there slowly. I think I still need to explain how long things need to last. Some things she has already finished and she wanted me to buy more snacks for DD yet she still has plenty of yoghurt, some crisps, raisins, biscuits etc.

I also don't understand how she wants to throw food away when she eats so much. We didn't double the budget, I eat everything from home - breakfast, lunch and dinner. I make my own lunches and take my own snacks when I go out (We work from home sometimes). We did however increase quantities to allow for an extra person with a bigger appetite - I guess it was not enough.

Buying the extra snacks has definitely helped. I believe she has a completely different diet, but even after asking many times what she prefers she will not say anything. I have asked her what she wants me to buy, including snacks and .....

Thank you for the tips

cheesecakemom Wed 24-Jul-13 11:17:17

"It's probably a taste of what it's going to be like when you have your own teens in the house!" Oh dear! Yes she is young - 20, tall but slim, but slim people eat a lot as my husband does. She eats more than him!

mistlethrush Wed 24-Jul-13 11:20:41

One of my teenage relatives came to stay for a couple of months whilst doing a summer course. My mother ended up getting just a cheap block of cheese etc for him to help himself to.

What I would do is have your normal things for mealtimes etc - but with clear guidance on what is acceptable for lunches - and then have a shelf in the fridge where she can help herself the rest of the time. Similarly, sort the fruit so that its clearly sorted into 'meals and snacks for the kids' and then 'this is your available amount for the week'.

Set out your clear guidance - she can't complain as she's having the same food for meals etc... snacks are just more under your control.

cheesecakemom Wed 24-Jul-13 11:21:04

"If I were you I would definately explain to her about the juice because that's a ridiculous amount to spend on juice! I wonder do you have a water filter jug to put in the fridge? I'm a bit of a fuss pot about tap water and will only drink it from the filter. Then it's also nice and cold for her to make squash."

I did this yesterday, I put the water in a jug. We always have water in the fridge anyway. I will definitely buy more lidl/ aldi snacks and pack them in tupperware. Good Idea.

cheesecakemom Wed 24-Jul-13 11:24:01

"One of my teenage relatives came to stay for a couple of months whilst doing a summer course. My mother ended up getting just a cheap block of cheese etc for him to help himself to."

HA! Our cheese is gone, 600 g, I think she has some daily. I was making some food for DD and .... no cheese. Luckily there were cheddar slices and she was already halfway through that.

BadSkiingMum Wed 24-Jul-13 11:33:12

Although she should not eat you out of house and home, in fairness, I get the feeling from your original post that you have not really made much provision for her in your food shopping. You bought the four cartons of juice to last two weeks (stating that you and DH normally use two) - so if juice is drunk at the same rate by all of you, what were you expecting her to drink? Logically, you should have bought an extra one for each week to allow for her.

The same thing applies to the fruit - if the health recommendations are five fruit and veg per day, then she should ideally be eating at least 3 pieces per day, plus maybe two of veg. So yes, maybe the fruit is disappearing - for good reason.

Also, she is young and probably has a bigger appetite! I remember being a teenage babysitter and always being really starving when I got to someone else's house - my mum was a good cook but dished out small portions that probably helped us all stay nice and slim as children and early teens, but which were a bit on the small side by the time we got to 17 or 18! I remember often feeling very ready for a snack, so I would munch a bit when I was in other people's homes and saw all sorts of interesting stuff in the fridge or cupboards. I still remember the embarrassment of seeing a 'do not touch' note on someone's fruitbowl!

I think that you need to be really clear with her and:

Agree with her what she has for lunch - is there a home made soup that you could make a big batch of then freeze in small containers? Same for supper.

State that you only do shopping X times a week, so some foods need to be still available by Friday.

No juice during the day - breakfast only. Write a big label on it 'breakfast only'.

Agree what she can have when she needs to snack - toast, crumpets, pancakes etc?

Think about encouraging her to have a boiled or scrambled egg for breakfast - maybe she needs to fill up a bit more?

Offer her veg snacks - make a plate of cucumber sticks one evening and offer her some, carrot sticks etc, tomatoes, until she gets the idea.

BadSkiingMum Wed 24-Jul-13 11:35:06

Cross-posted, so apologies if any of that you have already done/ are doing.

cheesecakemom Wed 24-Jul-13 11:56:58

Thank you for the tips.

PrettyBelle Wed 31-Jul-13 14:40:32

Just wanted to add my 2 pence worth about the AU wanting cooked meal at lunch AND dinner.

I assume she comes from abroad? I know that in my culture we too tend to eat a hot "proper" meal - i.e. meat and garnish - for lunch and dinner, and having sandwich or salad just won't cut it. It's not about having expensive tastes - it's just a habit, a way of eating which we have been following all our lives.

Strix Thu 01-Aug-13 14:58:23

I would ask her to meal plan. And I would stop cooking for her. Anyone who wants a cooked meal in my house is very welcome to go and cook.

I know the juice problem because my 8 year old DS1 would very happily drink six glasses a day, if I let him. But I tell the au pair he can have a glass with breakfast, and maybe another later in the day. In between, water is a fabulous thirst quencher.

I personally would stop refilling the supplies which are disappearing at unreasonable speeds. I shop once a week, and if you eat it all in 3 days, you will be hungry for the next four.

If you put her n charge of meal planning (and preparation) for the toddler she will have to make sure the food is there to cook with. However, this might not be part of her job description?

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now