Locusts. It’s a word commonly associated with hungry teenagers as they work their way through the kitchen. Wonder where all the leftovers have gone? They were probably consumed during a late-night refrigerator raid. There is a physiological reason for the increased appetite of the average teen boy. Most young men hit a major growth spurt between the ages of 14 and 17, as their bodies add significant height and muscle mass.
Does the inside of your fridge look like this? If perpetual grazing is taking its toll on your pantry and food budget, here are 5 ways to feed those burgeoning appetites without breaking the bank.
1. Buy snacks, fruits, and vegetables at Aldi
Aldi got its start in Germany in 1961 and prides itself on great quality at a low price. It’s hard to find better prices on fresh fruits and vegetables unless you’re shopping at a local roadside stand. The store carries many of its own brands which cost far less than well known names. Download the app on your smartphone and follow the weekly specials to stock up on healthy snacks like Mountain trail mix, granola bars, nuts, and produce at the lowest prices in town.
2. Watch for “soon to expire” meat
Most food stores discount fresh meat one or two days before the recommended “use by” date. Buy these discounted meats and freeze them until ready to use. Great times to look for deals are after a holiday when stores typically overbuy turkeys, hams, corned beef, or other seasonal specialties. You can find hams dirt cheap a couple of weeks after Christmas and Easter then use it for dinner, sandwiches, and soup. Anytime you see a great sale or price cut on chicken legs, buy them, season well with BBQ rub, bake, and store in the fridge next to a bottle of hot sauce. A couple of chicken legs make a perfect “snack!”
Recipe using “soon-to-expire” lamb.
3. Bake with over-ripened bananas
If fresh bananas never make it to the over-ripe stage in your household, many grocery stores sell brown bananas by the bag at a bargain price. For the low cost of brown bananas, eggs, and a few pantry items, bake banana bread, snack cake, muffins, or cupcakes. While not as wholesome as a piece of fruit, it’s still a better choice than a bag of potato chips!
4. Keep pasta salad on hand
The great thing about pasta salad, besides its low cost, is you can load it up with fresh veggies for a healthy anytime snack or side dish. Bags of tri-color spiral noodles, a bottle of low fat Italian salad dressing, and a combination of chopped raw vegetables (whatever you have on hand) combine for an easy pasta salad. Throw in leftover chicken, roasted vegetables, a can of chickpeas, cheese, or any other ingredients on hand to stretch the recipe out even more.
5. Teach your teen to make smoothies
If you own a high quality blender, smoothies are a low-cost and filling snack or breakfast. Keep the cost down by freezing fruits that are bruised or getting too soft to eat fresh. Bulk vanilla yogurt, protein powder, and skim milk make a tasty base for bananas, strawberries, avocado, peanut butter, or any combination your teen prefers. And it’s fun to experiment! One important tip is to remember the color wheel before mixing ingredients. Red and green combine to make brown. If a brown smoothie looks unappetizing, then strawberries and green grapes may not make the best visual combination! Here is a list of 50 smoothie recipes you can use for inspiration from the Food Network.
School breaks are the most challenging times to keep food in the house because the kids are hanging around. Summer vacation is prime grazing season for growing boys (and girls). If your cupboards are bare, use these ideas to satisfy growing appetites without breaking the bank.