Meal Planning: Embracing Reality — And Feeding Hobbits

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The FishBoys and their uncles JJ and Jace

It’s been so refreshing to have my “baby” brother, Jace, move in with us. He’s 23 and finishing his last semester in college this year. There’s a fairly large age difference between us. I did change his diapers, after all. He was our ringbearer when he was 8 years old. So, FishPapa has been a bro to him for a long time. We know this boy well and he’s a great addition to our household.

Not only does he provide us with free babysitting — for SIX KIDS — once a week for date night, but he offers me great perspective when it comes to my kids and their habits and behaviors. We’ve chatted about every topic under the sun.

Last night we discussed the FishKids and their neverending hunger. He turned to me and said, “No offense, but they ask for something to eat all. the. time. And, honestly, it’s wearing me out.”

Yes, bro, I feel your pain.

Embracing Reality
On the one hand, I have to embrace the reality of my life:

  • I have six children, aged 1 to 12, healthy growing children with extremely healthy appetites.
  • We are home all day with access to a kitchen.
  • They are hobbits. They understand what Pippin means when he asks for second breakfast, elevensies, and luncheon. They are always hungry. No sooner have we eaten a large breakfast of eggs, bacon, and toast, and someone will say, “Mama, what can I have to eat?” They would eat all day if they could.

Ahhhhhhhh!{tearing out hair}

But, the reality of that is my brother or FishPapa or I going bonkers with their constant requests for food. Unfortunately, I’m not so good at keeping to a schedule that there are strict mealtimes.

So, we did some troubleshooting and came up with some ideas to maintain our sanity and fit the reality of FishLife. Last week’s lunchbox-themed Ultimate Recipe Swap offered some inspiration in this way.

Feeding Hobbits
Plan A: each kid gets his own lunch box filled with snack and lunch packed the night before. Freedom given to eat whatever’s in his box, but that’s it between breakfast and dinner.

Plan B: lunches get made the night before and I make a snack list w/ quotas to post on the fridge, like this:

I’m not sure which plan, if any will work. But, we’re gonna try to

  1. accomodate the Hobbits’ appetites
  2. simplify daytime meals and snacks
  3. keep the kitchen cleaner during school
  4. save me some time and some hair loss

And, in case you’re wondering here are the Meal Plans for the week:

cinnamon rolls
oatmeal and apples
eggs, toast, fruit cup
cereal and fruit
blueberry muffins and smoothies
waffles and fruit

reviewing a variety of frozen foods from ConAgra – more on that later
snacky lunch

Carnitas, Homemade Corn Tortillas, Mexican Rice
Chinese Chicken Salad with Noodles
Baked Chicken, roasted potatoes, broccoli, biscuits
Chicken Pot Pie and Salad
Pasta with Red Sauce, Salad, Foccaccia
Homemade Pizza and Salad

Many of my recipes are now being catalogued at Good (&Cheap) Eats.

For more meal planning inspiration, visit I’m an Organizing Junkie.

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  1. Looks like a great week! Good luck with those plans:-)

  2. Kerrie McLoughlin says:

    sounds good! we have the same issues around here, with so far only 4 kids … i let them have free reign in the kitchen, tho, which saves me a lot of sanity. as long as they are active, they are staying fit. my mom thinks i'm crazy to let them dig in the fridge and pantry, but they usually stick to string cheese, fruit, make their own cereal and sandwiches, etc. i just let them graze a lot, but sometimes that backfires when it's dinnertime and they aren't hungry. argh!

  3. I feel your pain even though I only have three boys. I like your plan! I may have to consider coming up with something similar. My biggest issue is with my oldest (9 years old) who *always* wants a snack before bed. I know most of the time he's not hungry – just a habit. And then of course there's the three neighbor kids who are always over at our house and wanting to eat too. I'm scared for the future of our grocery bill once they're teenagers! 😉

  4. Katie @ goodLife {eats} says:

    One of my friends puts baskets with healthy kid snacks at the bottom of her pantry and they're allowed certain amounts of snacks from that basket and they can help themselves to it. Good luck!

  5. I feel your pain, and I only have 2 who are growing like weeds and eating a TON. Part of my reality is giving Evan a double portion at meals. He always eats it all plus some. Then if he's hungry I offer more of the previous meal. If he's not really hungry, he'll pass. But just yesterday, Amy ate a big bowl of chicken kale soup at 10am. Go figure, I guess she really was hungry! Oh, and I try to make them drink a big glass of water too, because sometimes they're just thirsty.

  6. My crew always has a second growth spurt after the summer one that goes until early November, or maybe it's just one long one from late August until winter. Two things helped with the constant grazing-bigger servings at meals, and cutting sweets/adding protein. Most kids do need snacks mid-afternoon so I even keep non-perishable stuff in the car if we are out then.

  7. I try to keep veggies and fruits and nuts for our snacks and schedule them for 10:30 and 3:00. It seems to keep the asking for food to a minimum. We're working on drinking more water too.

  8. The Real Me! says:

    I think your plan sounds wonderful. We have scheduled "snack" times and they know not to ask for anything until then. Because it can drive you bonkers!!!

  9. little boo is a hobbit! he prefers snack food right now, so he'll nibble and pick at a meal and as soon as i get it cleaned up he asks for a snack. he does wear me out with his constant requests. i stick to 3 meals and 2 snacks a day at home. we don't usually snack after supper unless we eat really early or we're out and the kids don't eat well because they're distracted.

    i think kids associate babysitter with liberal snacking. they always get extra snacks, treats etc. with baby sitters. hopefully after jace becomes a routine and he sets some boundaries the requests will die down.

  10. More than Survival says:

    I totally understand your challenge!! Over the summer when all four were at home all day it seemed like they were constantly eating!!! It drove my husband crazy!! He is much stricter than I am about WHEN we eat!! Now that the oldest three are in school they get breakfast (lunch at school), a snack when they get home and supper. The youngest gets breakfast, lunch, snack and supper… sometimes he eats a morning snack. No eating after supper is our home rule. With GROWING boys I know that they need to eat, but I don't thing grazing is good for them… it is good for their system to empty out and get hungry. Their digestive system needs a break from constant digesting!! We never limit the amount they eat at meal times…..

  11. CountryMama@The Cozy Country Home says:

    What a great idea with the snack plan! We have the same problem here. We no sooner finish a full dinner when I hear "Mama, I'm hungry". How frustrating! Thanks for the tips!!

  12. I love the idea of having a lunch box set for each kid with their snack "quota". I only have one Little Dude, but he eats non-stop all day long! I posted my tips back in July on how I prep his snacks so I stay sane:
    Thanks for the tips!

  13. So sorry – I posted the wrong link in my comment. Here is the correct link for my snack time tips:

  14. Thanks for the input, everybody. It's good to know that we're not the only ones. Unfortunately, I don't think this is a Jace-induced hunger. I think we've always struggled with this from season to season.

    Once we move at the end of the month, we're hoping to streamline the kitchen and our food storage. Jace has a dorm fridge to dedicate to be our "school fridge." So, we'll see how this goes. The best laid plans….

    Thanks for the reminder, Jessika, about water and veggies.

  15. Great idea about the lunch box of snacks for the day. When they are gone, they are gone. I feel like my kiddo is *always* asking for something to eat. I feel bad telling him no sometimes, for I know he is a growing boy with an appetite different than I have. With the pre-made day's worth of snacks, however, I can let him have some freedom compiled also with some limits!

  16. Hoosier Homemade says:

    Great menu and story! Looks like we were on the same wave with meals this week, I have noodles, chicken and pizza also. 🙂

  17. I totally feel your pain, and I only cook for five people! The never ending hungry mouths to feed…. But I am eternally thankful that they are here for me to feed!

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