Food and Your Au Pair

by cv harquail on July 7, 2009

200907071230.jpg Boy, that post on Groceries triggered a lot of issues!

Rather than try to keep track of them in the comments to that one post, let’s pull them out into posts of their own. So, coming up over the next several days, we’ll have posts about:

Our AP’s appetite is so big, I can’t afford to feed her!
Does my Au Pair have an eating disorder?
Hands off my Pellegrino!
She said she could cook, but now she won’t.
I’m the Host Mom/Dad, not the chef.
How to teach your Au Pair to boil water.

I know these titles sound funny– but this whole food and cooking thing is no joke!

Now that you know what’s coming up, you can think about any ideas you have for addressing these issues. You can save them for the comments, or if you want me to included then email them to me at MomatAuPairMomdotCom.

Remember, too, that you can use the search box AND the list of categories on the right sidebar to find more posts about food, nutrition, cooking and your au pair.

Bon Appetit!

Doughnut&Jane by lastnightfriend on Flickr


NewAPMom July 8, 2009 at 12:08 am

I actually need answers to most of these problems, but I can offer one potential solution…

One thing that we did with fairly good success was asking each adult family member (AP, HM, HD) to take responsibility for getting dinner on the table two nights a week. We all got to make what we wanted. If the AP wanted to make PB&J and carrot sticks, she could have – as long as it was nutritionally complete, it qualified. We all had a set two days of the week, for example, Mon and Wed were au pair days. The two people who didn’t cook on a given night did the dishes. This spread the work and gave everyone an appreciation of exactly how much work goes into providing food.

Like I said in another post, if I had a real daughter the age of my AP, she probably wouldn’t be living at home, and if she were, she’d certainly be helping out with her share of the cooking. So I think it’s perfectly reasonable to ask my AP to pitch in.

Eventually this setup fell apart though for various reasons: HM and HD needed some time alone together, AP decided to stop eating (see “Does my au pair have an eating disorder”), AP could never figure out how to plan ahead and get ingredients onto the shopping list and kept using what the HM was planning to cook and the HM got frustrated with the whole thing.

I’m currently attempting to teach my AP how to cook for the kids. I’ve discovered that she’s a visual learner and doesn’t absorb anything from books, so I can’t just hand her a copy of Betty Crocker. So I’ve TiVo’d some cooking shows for her and I’m going to take a day off work and show her some things myself (but sit back and let her do the work so hopefully she remembers it better.) I’ll report back.

The thing is, my au pair can cook one or two delicious dishes really well, so at first I thought she could cook. But I’ve since come to realize that she knows nothing about how to put together a balanced meal, nothing about food prep, storage, how long you can leave things in the fridge before they grow fur, and nothing about menu planning. I’ve also discovered that it’s very difficult to teach those things to someone who has always lived at home and had mom take care of them.

I’m all ears for other peoples’ solutions.

Calif Mom July 8, 2009 at 12:24 am

one more topic

— “How To Politely Communicate That Using HD’s Favorite Japanese Chef’s Knife to Hack at a Big Chunk of Frozen Lard Will Cause the Tip to Snap Right Off and Boy Will He Be Crabby for Months Afterward”

Actually, I have a solution to this, too! We bought some bamboo sleeves that now stay on the most-adored knives, and new AP knows those are special and completely avoids them. I will sharpen anything else that gets dinged up through regular use without complaint. Even the ruined tips. :-)

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