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Saturday, June 19, 2010

Hiding Leftovers and Candy From Your Kids

When money becomes tight and you have to stretch your meals, learn the art of the leftover.

I know – even the word, "leftovers," sounds like second-hand food. Who wants to eat that?

On the other hand, why would you want to throw away perfectly good food?

When money is tight, you need to make the most of what you have. Leftovers are one of the best ways to save money.

HOWEVER, some kids who have been accustomed to eating new meals each day will balk at having to eat leftovers. And that's when some ingenuity comes in handy.

Throw something in the microwave and you might as well put a sign on it – "old reheated dinner." Kids won't eat it without complaining. Some kids would rather starve than eat something they consider to be "used."

Trying to reason with them by saying, "Starving children in (pick country) would love to eat these leftovers" doesn't work, because most kids will ask you to send their meals to those starving children.

How do you get your children to eat leftovers? Learn to love aluminum foil again. Aluminum foil scares children, because it screams LEFTOVER. They won't touch it. But that's a good thing, because they also won't know what's in an aluminum foil-covered container.

If you don't use aluminum foil, make sure the container is not transparent. It is imperative that kids never be allowed to see what hides inside containers.

Learn to love your oven and stove all over again, too. Cooking on your stove may require you to become a little bit sneaky, though, because if your kids find you rummaging through the refrigerator and grabbing a bowl that held dinner from three days ago, they will know you are reheating a leftover meal.

And NEVER throw the bowl you grabbed from the refrigerator into the microwave in their presence. Wait until everybody leaves the room, and if you decide to use your microwave, don't forget to remove the foil.

Instead of using the microwave, grab the bowl that was wrapped in aluminum foil and quickly throw it into the oven or into a pot on the stove. Immediately place the bowl in the sink or dishwasher and RINSE IT OUT! Leave no tell-tale signs that what was once in the bowl was a previously eaten meal.

The meal must appear to be fresh. For some reason, anything cooked on the stove or placed in a pan in the oven appears to be a new meal.

Get creative. Add different spices to the original meal. If you had chicken breasts, shred the chicken and make a casserole out of it.  Look online for "what to do with leftover (fill in the blank)." You'll find thousands of results.

And now for the part about the candy. As I mentioned earlier, anything wrapped in aluminum foil is frightening to children. Most kids who visit the freezer usually grab a popsicle or some other frozen snack. If you want to hide a little treat for yourself (sometimes mom and dad need SOMETHING for just them, right?) wrap it in aluminum foil. Kids are smart though, so be careful to shape the foil in anything BUT the shape of a candy bar. Be creative – make it look like leftover mashed carrots (I told you to be creative).

WARNING #1 – if your child should discover your secret, NOTHING you hide in aluminum foil from that point on will be safe.

WARNING #2 – Disregard everything I've written until this paragraph. Raising responsible children means letting your children know boundaries. Parents are allowed to have their own snacks. And heating leftovers is a responsible way to manage money. Waste is unacceptable. Children should respect the family finances and live within the means established by Mom and Dad.

This did make for a fun blog though, didn't it?

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