Now that I'm older, wiser, and know that the husband and I work our buns off for every dime of our grocery money, my attitude about wastefulness is completely reminiscent of my Depression-era Grandpa. I shudder every time a veggie goes bad in our crisper (which is rare, because I'm crazy like that, and plan our grocery lists and meals down to a tee most weeks). We play excellent rounds of cupboards to make sure no freezer item is ever left behind. If my mom cleans out her pantry and gives me a random half-bag of farro (true story), I'm going to search the interwebs to find a delicious recipe to use it ASAP. I pride myself on being as thrifty and resourceful with food as possible, while still catering to our foodie passions and organic commitment. It's a project, and it's why the following situation is driving me insane...
Have you ever been the primary chef for a toddler? It's a thankless and daunting experience, my friends. One day the guy likes grilled cheese, the next day he won't touch it with a ten foot pole. Among the things that Normal Children like that my son won't touch: ravioli or pasta of any kind, including mac and cheese, most cheese and cheese products, and meat and animal products of any kind (with exception of the yolk part of a fried egg). In short, he eats like a sorority girl preparing for spring break at the beach. If he could live only on yogurt and fruit with the occasional whole grain thrown in for variety, he'd happily do so. The pediatrician says to keep on offering things, so we do, but the amount of stuff that he turns is nose up at or mutilates and then walks away from is astounding. We end up with plates and plates of good food (Niman Ranch ham grilled with Cabot Sharp Cheddar on multi-grain bread or organic broccoli and cheddar ravioli, for example) that are completely untouched. The Grandpa Joe in me is tearing my hair out over this on a nightly basis.
Here's the conundrum: if we eat his scraps and leftovers, we're going to fall prey to the new parent equivalent of the freshman fifteen that we're both trying to avoid. It's classic to pack on pounds from noshing your kid's cast-offs, and I just don't want to do it. I also don't want to feed him cheaper or less healthy food in anticipation of half of it going to waste. What we put in his body is high on my priority list, and I want him to eventually develop a palate and appreciation for really good food. Smaller portions are a possible answer, but hard to measure sometimes. You never know when he's going to like something and be clamoring for more, and who boils just one ravioli? I keep going around and around in my head for a solution and am not finding one. All of the wasted food is making me feel guilty and agitated. There has to be a better way!
Beloved mama, papa, auntie, uncle, nanny and granny readers of SMJ, do you have any magical ideas? We already have the best fed dog in Boston... I'm looking for new and better ways to make my Grandpa proud and stop tossing so much to the trash or the canine. Any and all advice is much appreciated.
This was last night's dinner plate. He ate all of the strawberries and one slice of toast (locally baked whole wheat with organic butter, thank you). I ate the ham and roasted veggies and called it an appetizer. ARGH!