Feeding a big family is no joke. Do you know that kids want you to feed them every single day? At least three times a day! No one told me this when we had our first. I mean, I guess I knew they’d need to eat, but it is constant. In our family, we eat at home a majority of the time. We have food allergies, so grabbing a quick meal out isn’t something that we can just do easily. It takes research, planning, and there’s always a fear of the unknown since it didn’t come from my kitchen. So we cook and pack lunches 98% of the time.
As our family has gotten bigger it amazes me how much food we consume. My kids aren’t those kids that just eat a tiny amount of food at meal times. Zoe eats more that Mark and I do, Oliver isn’t far behind, and Isabel can pack the food some days as well. Want to make breakfast? That’s 14 eggs and the big two always ask for more. Were making 5 chicken breasts for a meal, 8 chicken thighs, a whole package of hot dogs (don’t judge, so gross, but so delicious.) A standard sized bag of frozen veggies are not enough to feed all of us anymore. Just today, we bought a bag of fresh asparagus at Costco, I was thinking that I could split it in half, which I did, but it didn’t look like enough so I used more and I have an awkward amount left to use, because its not enough for a meal. AND Zoe asked for more. The kids go through about 3 loaves of bread a week (Mark and I are Gluten Free) and they’re giant loaves from our bread machine. The fruit….. we go through so much fruit. We buy a boatload on Saturday and some weeks by Wednesday or Thursday we’re out. I think you can get a general idea of the sheer volume they eat.
We live in a rental here in Raleigh, so I don’t have any control over things like refrigerator size and pantry space. Let me tell you, there are time when we get back from the grocery store and I’m seriously worried its just not going to fit. We bought a chest freezer before Isabel was born in case we had to store breast milk and I didn’t thing we’d ever fill it. One trip to Costco and we have that sucker packed. It took me years to find a fruit basket big enough and even then its overflowing onto the counter. The pantry is a disaster, it starts out organized, then we go shopping and we just start shoving stuff in and hoping for the best. It kills me a little inside to live like that.
Speaking going to the grocery store, something that we have been doing for the last two years or so is going to the grocery store as a family. It is absolutely mass chaos. I am pretty sure that when people see us, they start thinking about permanent forms of birth control, things like celibacy. I don’t care how well behaved your kids are, there is something about being in a grocery store that makes them lose their damn minds. Some weeks, I’m not entirely sure why we do it.
So we don’t lose anyone in the the store, Isabel is worn in a toddler carrier, usually on Marks back. Eli rides on the cart, which he cries and protests about every.single.time. It never changes, I am not sure why we have to go through it every Saturday. I spend the entire trip telling the big two to watch where they’re walking, move to one side, stop yelling out random items they think we need, and FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, STOP PUTTING YOUR HANDS ON YOUR FACE! DO YOU WANT THE FLU?? Also, telling them to stop fighting and that we aren’t going to the bathroom. It’s pretty awesome.
By the time we get to checkout our cart is overflowing and at least one parent (we take turns, its why we work so well together) and 2-3 kids are losing their minds. Isabel particularly hates this part, sometimes we can trick her into holding it together for 10 more minutes by putting her in the seat of the second cart we inevitably need. We have a knack for always picking the slowest cashier who doesn’t know the code for a green pepper and doesn’t have the damn cheat sheet. When they get to ringing up my wine and Mark’s beer they always give a knowing nod. Its like they’re saying “You’ve earned this, you need this to be better parents.” at least that’s what they’re saying in my head.
Eventually, we get out to the car and the kids take longer to buckle than it takes us to load the groceries. We get home and they run under foot, whining about how hungry they are while we try to get it all put away. Usually Mark unpacks while I take care of anything that needs prepping. Pre-cutting produce, taking things out of the package etc. Somehow every week Mark does some sort of freezer magic to get it all to fit.
Then we have 6-7 days before we do it all over again, because by Friday we will have nothing to eat.