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I’ve created a monster

Anyone else have kids who bring home half their lunch untouched? The half that doesn't have any sugar content? Anyone else have a kid who stares at six types of snacks in the cupboard then complains they don't like any of them, but they're, and I quote, "starving!!!! 😩😩😩" who are these wasteful, ungrateful children?! No child of mine would dare waste food when I watched children beg and starve on the side of the road in Bangladesh and the Philippines growing up. No child of mine would stare through the Chex Mix and fruit leathers and say there are no good snacks. Who are these children?? I've created little monsters by spoiling them out of blind love and coddling.

Tire them out and they eat much better

My husband said I wasn't frugal the other night and I got seriously offended. I pride myself on finding the best deals and getting so much % off at certain retail stores that I probably cost them money as a customer. I have four girls, but I buy clothes for my oldest at thrift stores and consignment shops. And yet I have these spoiled Americans living in my house with no one but myself to blame. Don't tell my husband, but he was right. I'm not being frugal. I'm just buying the unnecessary good stuff on sale.

I grew up...privileged. But I didn't know it. My mom still bought off brand cereal and mostly shopped at Marshall's and TJ Maxx. Our juice came in a frozen cylinder that had a plastic pull tab you peel off like on a gallon of milk and then you add water to it. The definition of juice from concentrate. Granted there were four of us kids, but she also wasn't wasteful and knew how to shop for a bargain. We didn't really do brand names.

Obviously we didn’t care what people thought

Overseas we were a bit behind on the times and brands didn't matter to me and my friends, because there wasn't even a place to shop for them in Bangladesh! Sometimes we'd go to Bongo Bazaar and shop a bit, but mostly my family would stock up for the year during our summers in California. (Check the label on your chonies- that's family speak for underwear- Bangladesh 🇧🇩 just became more than a random name on your chonies!) Or we'd take a favorite item to the local tailor and have it copied four more times. We'd even make my brother carry on an ice chest full of giant blocks of cheddar cheese from Costco on the plane. It was two days of travel to the other side of the world, but we needed that cheese for a year. We had these two massive checked bags, the "purple bags," that could fit a backstreet boy and a half in each one. We'd bring them back full of American snacks and pantry items before we used that space for brand name shoes and clothes. Priorities.

I got a role in a deshi soap opera causing drama as the white girl who married into the family

Shopping once a year for the entire year and not having access to 17 kinds of packaged snacks overseas made those simple decisions easy, because there were such limited options!

However, when I was in college and shopping for myself, the third culture kid (TCK) in me was still very much present. And very much overwhelmed by the sheer multitude of options for something as basic as pickles. I would stand in the pickle aisle for 10 minutes overwhelmed by the amount of options the United States has for pickles. Sweet? Salty? Wedge? Mini? Sliced for your sandwich already for your convenience?! I mean c'mon!!!!! Americans are so incredibly spoiled! I went from craving a single, simple pickle to being tortured with guilt over access to abundance in that pickle aisle.

We didn’t care about brands. Just each other. And saving the world someday.

Which brings me back to my point. We have SO MUCH in America. In Mexico City where I had my first three girls there weren't many options for convenient healthy snacks. Here I make the excuse that it's an easy to grab healthy option so now an entire shelf of the pantry is dedicated to not just snacks, but kid snacks. From whole wheat organic cheese crackers to organic no sugar added fruit leathers. Since when was an actual banana not good enough? It also comes individually packaged to grab and go.

I'm not trying to guilt trip the busy moms who buy these snacks that are actually healthy- or even the not so healthy treats! I'm saying it's gotten out of hand at my house in terms of spending and generated waste from packaging. Worst of all, we've forgotten how fortunate we are. I offer them way too many choices and they're just like 19-year-old me having a mental breakdown in the pickle aisle. Instead of helping them, I'm overwhelming them with options. Less is more. The same rule applies for toys and clothes, but I digress. Organization after decluttering is for another blog.

I'm currently struggling with the kid who returns her school lunch half full, but no longer edible. She is the same kid who only eats things with high sugar content, who went through a period of only eating white foods, who prefers food out of a package, and calls fruit "bad" if it has a slight imperfection, is even the tiniest bit mushy or has started to brown because she takes FOREVER to eat. I have had to crack down on her wastefulness and that stubborn child of mine would rather starve between meals than finish a meal she kinda sorta dislikes. Her plate sits there from one meal to the next, half eaten, because I don't allow snacks unless you finished your last meal. You know the family of 10 doesn't give their 8 kids options. I make an effort to have something each kid likes on the table at dinner, so they'll eat at least one thing. And the rest they need to learn to like or they wait til breakfast to eat again.

The snack shelf is running low and I have no plans to replace 3/4 of it. Oh, you no longer like the granola bar that was your absolute favorite last week? I guess you'll learn to like them again, or you can take the piece of fruit fruit that also comes in a handy natural packaging of it's own. You're starving and there are no snacks? Well, that's great! I won't have to throw away food at dinner because you'll be hungry enough to eat it all. And don't ever tell me you're starving. We can't even begin to understand the depth of that word.

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excellent comments and observations. My kids grew up with the "natural/from scratch" budget.

Brooke Ramos
Brooke Ramos
Jan 29, 2023
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I try to do that more now too, but it’s time consuming! One of the girls always wants to help though so it makes the time feel more intentional- and they’re more likely to eat what they help make!

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