"My child's day on a plate: Feeding teenage boys 101, never run out of food."

Thanks to our brand partner, Nutri-Grain

Last Friday, the checkout operator at my supermarket gave me a high-five because I had just become her highest-spend customer that week.

Personally, I would have preferred a sash, or my own personal, parking space. Aside from the fact that a record grocery spend isn’t a goal I’m ever aiming for (note to self: do not show husband this post), it wasn’t even my only grocery shop that week.

Because I have a teenage son.

To parents with multiple teenage sons: Big respect.

I’d love to say I’m one of those thrifty mums who appear on A Current Affair demonstrating how to feed a family of four for $50 (what freakish sorcery is that?). But as long as I have to feed and water my family, that remains a pipedream. I’m not especially extravagant – although I prefer my toilet paper NOT scratchy. But feeding my 16-year-old son is about quantity first. As long as I hit that target, I can go my hardest on nutrition and variety.

feeding teenagers
” A record grocery spend isn’t a goal I’m ever aiming for.” Image: supplied.

I learned this the hard way, when my kid went from eating regular amounts at regular times, to needing to eat ALL THE THINGS ALL THE TIME. I mean, I knew it was coming – it’s not as though mothers of boys think they’re always going to be cute kids in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle t-shirts and Velcro sneakers. We know that at some point they’re likely to become actual menfolk. What we don’t expect is for it to happen OVERNIGHT.

From that day forward I’ve never been able to use that smaller, hipster trolley at the supermarket. Because the following is a snapshot, complete with non-Pinterest-worthy snapshots, of my 16-year-old son’s day on a plate. And lunchbox.

I’m going to preface this by saying that about a year ago, my son announced that his body was a temple, and accordingly he was going to change up his diet and exercise routine. Obviously I was all, “That’s great darling, good for you,” not realising that I would need to set up a supplementary pantry next to the supplementary fridge downstairs.



Like me, my son is not a morning person. Breakfast is prepared and eaten in complete silence because, well, it’s morning. Anyone who tries to speak to him (or me) will be met with disdain, and they only have themselves to blame.

Breakfast is a bowl – actually, it’s a legit salad bowl (see pic for comparison with normal bowl) – of cereal with approximately half a carton of skim milk. Our milkman holidayed in the Maldives last Christmas. Not.

On the way to the bus he’ll drink a green juice – a recent addition (because #bodyisatemple) made to his own recipe of cucumber/celery/apple/kiwi/kale (*gags*)/orange/lemon/lime.

“On the way to the bus he’ll drink a green juice – a recent addition (because #bodyisatemple).” Images: supplied.

Morning tea and lunch.

Heads up, parents of not-yet-teenagers. Teenagers don’t have lunchboxes. They have eskies. Seriously, look at it!

feeding teenagers
Seriously! Image: supplied.

In my son’s case, it needs to hold the following:

  • Leftovers* from dinner (teriyaki chicken/vegies/rice)
  • Two wraps with leftover chicken stir-fry
  • Apple
  • Handful of almonds
  • Muesli bar
  • Pretzels
  • Celery and peanut butter
  • Vegetable muffin (made and frozen once a term to make self feel virtuous)
  • Crackers with ham and cheese

* Having teenagers can be more useful than having a Labrador.

feeding teenagers
“I had shopping lists shorter than this before I had kids.” Image: supplied.

Afternoon tea.

How it’s even possible to consume more food after the whole lunchbox/esky exercise is a mystery to me. First he’ll put away a bowl of yoghurt mixed with oats, followed by a banana. If you Instagrammed it, you’d call it a deconstructed smoothie.

He’ll follow that up with half a dozen crackers with vegemite, washed down with a protein shake.

I should point out that afternoon tea precedes a gym workout. Honestly, sometimes I’m sure they gave me the wrong baby at the hospital.

“If you Instagrammed it, you’d call it a deconstructed smoothie.” Image: supplied.


Dinner is the most problematic meal in our house – largely because I’m a rubbish cook. I am an ACE baker – I could knock up an Adriano Zumbo croquembouche without breaking a sweat, but I couldn’t cook a roast if my life depended on it. Thankfully my husband loves to cook actual meals, so we’re not forced to live on toasted cheese sandwiches.

So dinner would be steak with a mahoosive salad or steamed vegetables. (Just quietly, this is another reason I’m eternally grateful for my husband’s love of cooking. Vegetables and I have a tenuous relationship, and if it were up to me, we’d all have scurvy.)

Gah. I’m in a food coma just writing this post.

Teenagers are a special kind of challenging. I might refer to the PlayStation as the Gameboy, and Snapchat makes me feel 700 years old, but I’ve got the feeding thing nailed. The biggest rule? Never run out of ANYTHING.

Nutritionist review.

Teenage boys can certainly eat and you’re doing an amazing job making sure there are a range of nutritious options on hand. Being organised and shopping regularly is the most important step to making healthy eating the easy option, so well done. Look at that esky you’ve stocked full of brightly coloured food choices.

It’s jammed packed full of nutrients – exactly what a growing adolescent needs. To help fill your son’s belly right up, you could try adding in some boiled eggs for additional protein or trial switching to wholegrain wraps or brown rice or even quinoa for more fibre – all of which will fit in nicely with your son’s #bodyisatemple attitude.

Your son’s choice of oats, yoghurt and banana pre-workout is fantastic as it’s based around minimally processed options and is providing the right fuel for his gym session. To help him recover from his workout, let him know he can save the protein shake and crackers until after his workout. The protein will help repair his muscles and the carbohydrates will refuel him ready for his next session, helping him get more from his training.

You and your husband are a great team and your son is certainly on the right track with the dinner your chef-extraordinaire-husband dishes up. A fantastic role model for building lifelong habits for your teen.

* This third party nutritionist is not affiliated with any of the companies we partner with.

What is your experience with feeding teenagers?

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