Can someone advise me? I have been an au pair for 2 weeks and the family are really nice. The problem is the food. They have 6 kids and so they only buy cheap food like pasta and bread. Sometimes all we have for dinner is vegetables. I am desperate for some protien, but they only eat meat a couple of times a week and then only pitifully tiny portions. I have a heavy workload and this lack of protein is reducing my energy. I need some protein every day but I can’t afford to buy it myself as I live in an expensive country. What should I do?
I think you need to talk to your LCC. Maybe she has heard this complaint from previous aupairs but was unable to act on it. Maybe this is a philosophical lifestyle rather than an economic necessity. Read the other comments on this website about food – it is a tricky issue. If the family is committed to eating meat in very small quantities or not at all and you cannot live with that, you may have grounds for rematch. Are there other forms of protein that can help a little ? Do they eat other forms of protein like some fish or tofu ? Is there a real economic necessity . My undrstanding is that the agencies are supposed to do checks on the finances of the familes in the program. I honestly don’t know how careful they are. Pasta and veggies are not a well rounded diet but it doesn’t seem like this family is treating you differently than themselves. What do others think ?
I’m not in america, I don’t have a LCC and can’t rematch but i don’t want to rematch anyway, i like them.
They are not out of work, both parents are employed, I’ve just heard them say sometimes how expensive it is having so many kids. They have fish as infrequently as the other meat and never tofu, we usually just get pasta or vegetables for dinner. One night all we had for dinner was fried onions! They say if i’m still hungry later I can have porridge, but who wants to eat porridge before bed? I
am so desperate for protein i can’t stop thinking about it. For lunch i’m only allowed to eat leftovers from the night before, i can’t make myself anything fresh. How can I ask them to buy more protein for me when they’re not eating it themselves? I’ve casually mentioned how at home i ate meat every day and am feeling the lack, but it doesn’t seem to have registered. i don’t expect anything really expensive, some budget chicken will do! But is it asking to much to have a proper portion, like a chicken breast rather than one tiny nugget of meat that we get on the rare ocasions that we have meat? Their finances can’t be that bad, they are paying for a phone, travelcard and my plane ticket as extras.
From New AP Mom:
Katarina, I wish you were my au pair. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had the conversation in the other direction – urging her to please eat some sort of protein so she stays healthy and has the energy to do her demanding job.
How about beans? Could you offer to cook some dishes from your home country that just happen to include meat? I absolutely think that healthy food is part of the deal, and that includes protein. If you can find a copy of a food pyramid that shows protein serving sizes (size of a deck of card) and say that’s what you’re used to, maybe that would help.
From My 2 cents:
I like the suggestion about alternative proteins, like beans. How about eggs and nuts? There are loads of things you can do with those three and they tend to be inexpensive. Vegetarian chili, omelettes, red beans and rice, all say yummy to me. And there’s all the fabulous Asian receipes out there that involve very little amounts of meat proteins but are chock full of taste.
Be respectful, but be direct, with your host family. Approach it as a health/work performance issue as opposed to personal preferences and comparisons to how much better food was back in your home country. Perhaps come prepared with some menu ideas that you could help prepare. There are loads of receipes on the Internet and on various food sites. Yeah, it’s more work on you to do the research and to offer to help prepare, but sounds like it’s better than the alternatives. Good luck and let us know how it turns out.
Well, there are eggs in the fridge which I can have for breakfast but it’s just not enough. I really really need meat so bad! Cheap chicken would be fine, I just need a proper portion and the guarantee that i can have it every day. The parents want to do the cooking themselves. The other problem is half the week i can’t even eat the meals the parents prepare. tTey make weird things with loads of added ingredients which taste just awful, so alot of days i either go hungry or have to spend alot of money going out and secretly eating in a restaurant. I don’t know what to say when they put something i find inedible in front of me. I just don’t know how i can go a whole year like this.
I’m worried that if i make demands food-wise they might think i’m too expensive and troublesome to keep and get rid of me!
From PA au pair mom:
Katarina, I feel bad for you in your current situation.
Do you have a contract with them or could you leave and find a new family?
I know you say they are a nice family and that you like them, other than the food issue.
The problem is, if they aren’t feeding you properly, then they don’t have your best interest at heart. If they can’t afford to feed you, and themselves properly, then maybe they aren’t prioritizing very well. Hope you find a resolution soon. take care.
From My 2 cents:
Katarina, check out the “groceries: how much can AP ask you to spend” thread that came up last month. There was an AP on there with big issues about what the host mom was cooking and a bunch of people responded with suggestions.
IMHO, if your host family is reasonable they will want to make concessions to keep you happy and healthy. Of course, both sides need to be willing to work together and give a little each way for this to work, perhaps with them conceding to offering more meat proteins in more meals, but you expecting less in the quantity department at those meals. But if you are at all thinking of leaving your job or this family, or thinking you are really physically hurting due to this, then you must do the uncomfortable and talk about it with your host family in a direct, but constructive, manner.
Katarina, honestly it sounds like this job isn’t going to work for you. You say that you want a guarantee that you can have a proper portion of meat every day, and this seems important to you. Your host family offers pasta, vegetables, eggs, and porridge but very little meat. I don’t know if there is a compromise for you. Eating very little meat is a lifestyle that your host parents have adopted and probably aren’t going to change (given the financial, environmental, and health benefits). Perhaps your host family would be receptive to having more protein at meals–like beans or eggs. Could you honestly live with this?
Have you openly told them that there are spices you don’t like? Try asking the family to put a serving aside for you without the spices added you don’t like.?ask them if they would mind if you would buy your own meat (that only you eat eg on a sandwich for lunch). i say this because i do not see why meat in this case is any different from other people’s cravings for chocolate, or veggies, or coke, or candy, or milk/jogurt, or anything else the AP might be used to but the HF doesn’t buy.
Tou might be too stuck on thinking that only meat will give you the power. like said before, beans or soy might seal the deal as well.
Please, i don’t mean to be rude. i understand your craving (i need carbs) and the fact that all you can think about is meat. but couldn’t this just be an adjustment to different eating habits?
I think that in the end it will boil down to either you buying your craved food (again, i don’t see much of a difference in buying meat than in buying coke or coffee to function), your family adjusting their shopping/eating habits or you going into rematch.
And a comment from cvh:
Katarina, you’ve got some good advice here from these women!… and I echo the suggestion to start first with a conversation to *understand* their food choices– it may be health concerns, politics, money, culture, cooking skills, tastes & preferences, or some combination of those. And whichever reason they give for their choices is the place where you can start with making suggestions or alternatives.
It doesn’t seem to us that your desires are unreasonable (esp. if you are willing to try inexpensive proteins like beans).
Do be sure to keep separate the conversations about the amount and type of food, and the kind of preparation. It is much easier to deal with the preparation issue (by cooking your own portion). The question of having them buy more food or even different kinds of food for you is harder, but still worth discussing.
Food is so important to us– it is nourishment, it is culture, it is love. Be sure to open the conversation with an interest in learning what is behind the family’s food choices. Be willing to have more than one conversation before expecting it to be resolved.
Let us know what happens!