I’m not one of those people who uses up all of their food each week and faces an empty fridge and empty cupboards ahead of the weekly shop. My kitchen is always jam-packed full of food. It makes me feel happy and secure.
Maybe it’s because we went through financial problems a few years ago and sometimes didn’t have money to buy food.
Maybe it’s because I have three children and a husband who eats a lot.
Maybe it’s because I’m Italian.
Regardless of the reason, my well-stocked fridge and pantry was looking a little fuller this week thanks to Easter leftovers and my preparations to feed my children and their hungry friends during the upcoming school holidays. I wouldn’t say there’s a lot of junk food, it’s more like lots of snack foods such as packet noodles and pretzels, single-serve cheese and crackers, fruit cups, popcorn, all the usual foods I buy. Just lots of it.
We are good friends with a family down the street and their kids come over all the time. They love eating all of the foods I have because they are different from the foods their mum buys. I make sure I have all of their favourites on hand. I thought this was the right thing to do…I’m Italian, I’m a feeder. Feeding people is how I express love. Putting thought into buying the foods I’ve noticed people prefer is how I express my love.
Then one of the girls, who was five at the time but has since turned six, wandered into the kitchen as she normally would and she was trying to choose an after school snack from the plethora of options set out before her.
"Jo," she said as looked in the pantry, " why do have so much foods?"
"I always have lots of food."
"But so much kids foods. Do you have lots of money?"
"No, not really, but I just like to have lots of food in the house."
"So you spend all of your money on food?"
"No, just some of it."
"My mum says not to eat too much kids foods because of my teeth."
"She's right, but that's mostly to do with chocolate and lollies and stuff like that."
"Do you have any tomatoes?"
"Can I have one?"
"Sure, how do you eat it?"
"Just chopped up."
"Just chopped up on it's own? Not on a sandwich?"
"Yes, just chopped up, because that's healthy."
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I cut a tomato up for her and she ate it and asked for another one. Then she had a drink of water and ran off to play.
Had I just been junk food shamed by a five-year-old? Yep, I think I had.
I do have a lot of snack foods. I just prefer to do big shops so I don't have to go grocery shopping every single week. Clearly, I may have taken it a little too far this week causing my little friend to speak out at my food debauchery.
I'd just like to point out though that if I'd had Grain Waves in the cupboard that day I doubt the tomato would have gotten a look in because this little five-year-old is addicted to them (which is probably why I didn't have any left because she had eaten them all earlier in the week) and I'd also run out of her favourite Nutella snack with the bread sticks that you dip into it.
In her little brain she was probably speaking out against the snack foods I had because there were so many to choose from and yet none of them were her favourite. So she's healthy as long as there are no Grain Waves or Nutella snacks, but that's beside the point.
Maybe I have come to rely too much on convenience foods, ensuring I have all of the kid's favourites on hand at all time, never giving them a chance to miss their favourite foods and look forward to them.
Never giving the fruit bowl a chance to shine. Never giving the cheese sticks or the carrot sticks a hope in hell of being selected.
My children eat plenty of healthy foods at meal times but outside of that they eat a lot of snack foods and thanks to my five-now-six-year-old little friend I am going to have to make a few minor adjustments to my stores of food.
I can still buy lots of snack foods but put some away until the others are finished.
I can go back to cutting up fruits and vegetables in time for when they run through the door in the afternoon.
The Easter leftovers will need to be retired. My friend once dropped hers off to the local retirement home for the residents to share. One year I melted them all down and made chocolate cupcakes, leaving some out and freezing the rest. One year I threw them away, and felt really bad about it (there are people starving around the world).
One year I packed them away and used them for the Easter egg hunt the following year. Chocolate doesn't spoil, does it? I don't think so. Nobody got sick so it was probably okay.
When my five-now-six-year-old friend comes over this afternoon I plan to have cut up the watermelon that has been sitting in my fridge for the past three days, I'll have warmed up some rice leftover from dinner and I'll have organised the food cupboards so there are just a few snacks to choose from.
The leftover Easter eggs and the additional snack foods will be in my wardrobe, safe from prying little eyes.
I know what my son will say..."Where's all our food Mum? You need to go shopping. There's nothing to eat!"