A Survival Guide to Feeding a Teenage Boy

My son has always been tall and lean. This is partially because he plays sports and partially because he is a grazer. He eats a bunch of small meals throughout the day. At least, he did until earlier this year.

My thirteen-year-old will spend hours holed up in his room if I let him. Yet he senses when he is left alone in the house for even a few minutes. I walk outside to water the flowers and poof! five peaches and half a tub of ice cream vanish. Maybe it was a trap. Like a hunter in his perch, my son waits in his room, listening for the sound of the screen door, ready to pounce on the kitchen…

…or he’s a growing boy who is hungry. I understand, but I still can’t wait for him to hurry up and finish growing before I go broke keeping him in food and new clothes. So how does a parent survive feeding a teenage boy? I haven’t made it yet, but here is what has worked for me so far.

Have a discussion with your human garbage disposal.

It’s aggravating when you go for something in the kitchen and realize that it’s gone. Your son ate it. All of it. It’s absolutely infuriating when that something was earmarked (snacks to go with packed lunches, a side dish for dinner, etc.). There is nothing wrong with setting boundaries. You do not have to give him carte blanche to eat as much of whatever he wants. In fact, you probably should set some limits since teen boys aren’t likely to make the most nutritious food choices. Make sure that there are always healthy snacks around. Keep the good stuff for yourself. Speaking of which…

SnacksFind some good hiding places.

Maybe your son ate the whole package of cookies last week and it’s payback time. Maybe these fancy, expensive cookies are for the grownups. Or maybe you just don’t want to share (I’m not judging). You’re going to want to have a few hiding places in the kitchen. Ones that have worked the best for me are: in the slow cooker, behind the canned food, with the foil and plastic wrap, and at the back of the vegetable crisper.

Always ask for a doggie bag. Always.

I used to be embarrassed to get a doggie bag unless there was a lot of food left over. Now I’ll take anything:  a half-eaten chicken finger, someone else’s fries, dinner rolls. Your son says that he’s stuffed now, but you know that he’ll be in the fridge looking for second dinner an hour after you get home. Take the leftovers.

Wholesalers, discount stores, and generic brands are your friends.

You’re going to need a lot more food than you used to until this kid stops growing (think years, not months). The extra expense has a way of sneaking up on you even though you knew that it was coming. You need to find ways to get more for less. Try buying things in bulk, frequenting discount stores like Aldi and Walmart, and opting for generic instead of name brand products.

So are buffets.

Be careful when choosing restaurants. My son will be on his third drink and second bread basket before dinner arrives if I don’t stop him. You don’t necessarily have to eat at buffets, but you may want to avoid some of your more expensive favorites for a while. Oh and FYI – puberty kicks in not long after your boy ages out of the children’s menu.

Tape MeasureDon’t forget that this is only a phase and that you have made it through these before.

Remember when your son was little and it felt like he would never sleep through the night? Then like magic one morning you woke up and realized that he had. Your son won’t eat like he is pregnant with triplets forever either.

I still have a few years before my son stops growing so please add your own tips in the comments below. Don’t forget to subscribe so that you don’t miss a post.