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Au pair’s food costs

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Au pair’s food costs

Postby LAV000 » Mon Mar 12, 2018 6:16 pm

We had an au pair start with our family 3 weeks ago and I am hoping for a bit of advice as to how much I should expect to spend on her food each week. So far it is going fairly well, although I am quite shocked by the amount she eats! She goes to the gym once or twice a day and it seems to me that she eats about 5 meals a day and doesn’t hold back on what she helps herself to (eg helping herself to a pack of king prawns as a snack). I want her to be happy and I don’t want her to feel self-conscious about what she eats, but it is costing us an awful lot, on top of her weekly allowance of £150.

Anyway, she has just got herself a personal trainer and a nutritionist who is going to draw up a personalised nutritional plan for her detailing what she should eat each day. I’m happy to buy in food for her to cook separately - I certainly don’t expect us to eat together for every meal and in fact quite welcome her wanting to sort herself out. But my question is... how much is it reasonable to spend on an au pair’s food each week and should I be paying for all her “snacks” (probably more like little meals of tuna with eggs etc). I don’t intend to be counting pennies and I’m happy to be relatively relaxed about it but I also don’t want to find myself in a position where I am spending way more than is reasonable.

We are also going on holiday soon so I will need to leave cash for her to buy food for herself so this is a useful time to consider the point anyway.

Any thoughts gratefully received!
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Re: Au pair’s food costs

Postby twingirlsmama » Tue Mar 13, 2018 2:56 am

I don’t think you are being unreasonable at all. Sounds like she is living a life of luxury - gym, PT etc - I’d happily swap!

How about if you start ‘meal planning’ in that at the start of the week you write out for each day what you will all eat together, and accomodating her of course in your 3 meals as day and your normal snacks. There are some great pads around with plenty of space for each day of the week that you can just tear of the top sheet each week to start the next. Or Breathe do a fantastic planner that is our kitchen diary. See pic at the bottom.

I do this as a matter of course and always have done so that I can see we are having good balance with pasta, rice, potatoes, salad, winter veg, red meat, white meat fish and meat free. Even breakfasts - treat ones with pain au chocolat, cereal, toast, yogurt, eggs, porridge. We list all our packed lunches - we don’t have sandwiches if we have toast at breakfast or pasta if that’s for supper. Bigger supper means a light lunch such as soup.

Make it very clear that ingredients in the fridge are there to create the meals and that they are essential ingredients. If they are gone you can’t cook what you were wanting to.

Perhaps also suggest that 1 evening she decides what the family eats - within reason; it should be a family type meal.

State clearly that fruit, yogurts, cereal bars, rice cakes etc are snacks and that if there is anything else she wants to eat, she will have to budget for this herself.

I liken this to going to stay with a friend and guzzling all their wine - you wouldn’t do that. If they didn’t eat chocolate and it was your weakness - you would take it with you or pop out to buy some.
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Re: Au pair’s food costs

Postby evainlondon » Tue Mar 13, 2018 10:57 am

Hi there,
Our current au pair has stated she would rather buy her own food and we have added £20 per week as a result. I hope this helps!
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Re: Au pair’s food costs

Postby ally30_1998 » Tue Mar 13, 2018 1:39 pm

I feel your pain. We don't have an au pair but we do have a twenty something fitness fanatic son and when they exercise a lot they do like to eat - a lot!
We have introduced him to like things like cous cous (super fast to make up) and tinned chickpeas which are cheap (chickpeas are also a fantastic source of protein.) He is allergic to eggs so that doesn't really come in to it, but we buy in lots of cheese (always go for that week's bogoff deal) and lots of bread.
We also buy bananas, satsumas, butter and own brand pesto, and occasionally Tuna.
We started on this before he left for uni. When he came back he had a £15 per week allowance for all the lunch and breakfast stuff (milk wasn't included) and that was generally fine, as he would usually be able to get a multipack of tuna as well.
For breakfast its porridge - again; cheap and filling. For lunch he either makes a cheese and tomato sandwich or has cous cous, with cheese or chickpeas and pesto. For snacks he eats toast and fruit.
Since he started work he has discovered the benefits of coffee in a flask and taking his own bottle of water.

If you want to reduce costs, ditch the meat and processed snacks. Its the biggest spend in my experience.

I always cook something decent and fresh for the evening meal with the proviso that Friday and Saturday evening they sort themselves out (they are invariably out all weekend at that age, so McDonalds takes over!)

We now have another 20 member of the family something living here who isn't a gym goer so doesn't eat as much but she still only has the evening meal with us and lunch is soup and toast, with fruit and toast as snacks.

We had to do this as before he left for uni he had been living on a fairly 'champagne' diet with things like packs of ready cooked chicken, blueberries and so on - all lovely but very expensive. Not that we begrudge the cost, but we wont always be here and i don't think its going to be as easy for this generation going forward as it was for our generation, in regard to well paid work, decent homes and so on.

We also have another young family member who stays a few days each week for work, who insists on getting his own food - which seems to comprise of fizzy drinks, chocolate and baked goods!

Anyway - lot of detail there, but i think its quite an issue for those of us with adult children who have returned to the nest after uni and show no sign of going anywhere else very soon!
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Re: Au pair’s food costs

Postby LAV000 » Tue Mar 13, 2018 1:59 pm

Hi all, thank you so much for your replies - some really useful food for thought here (if you’ll excuse the pun ;) )

Just to clarify, her nutritionist is going to detail precisely what she should eat (down to the exact ingredients of each meal and snack each day) so I am not going to be planning or cooking meals for her any more as she won’t be eating what we eat (although we do eat relatively healthily). I think the only way to make it work is to give her a weekly food allowance instead so really I’m just trying to figure out what amount of money is reasonable...

Thank you!!
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Re: Au pair’s food costs

Postby NYE31 » Tue Mar 13, 2018 3:34 pm

If you already paying her £150 a week, then a food allowance of say £25 would be generous but do stress that she needs to buy all of her food with this or you may find that she is spending this & still helping herself to the contents of your fridge.

I hope you don't mind me asking but if she is going to the gym 1-2x a day, seeing a PT & a nutritionist plus preparing all these meals & snacks for herself, how much time does that leave in the day for au pairing?
Last edited by NYE31 on Fri Mar 16, 2018 12:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Au pair’s food costs

Postby Muddlemoo » Tue Mar 13, 2018 7:34 pm

Hi - we pay an additional £30 a week towards food and i don't get involved with our au pairs food at all. Can i ask something else while we are on this! we go away most holidays without our au pair. I am not sure how to manage the food situation - do i still pay the £30 even though we won't be here?

Thank you. x
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Re: Au pair’s food costs

Postby moncher12 » Wed Mar 14, 2018 3:29 pm

Whether she sees a shrink, an orthopaedist, goes to zumba, has a personal trainer or nutritionist is irrelevant to this. She can do as she pleases outside of her duties although obviously an au pair with a PT will inevitably rub mums up the wrong way in nappy valley (how dare she) :lol:

Most young people eat a lot and given the chance will munch through anything and everything in the fridge, whether they work out or not.

Saying that, helping yourself to a pack of king prawns as a snack? Just no. Protect the prawns!

This is why is it imperative people work these details out BEFORE someone starts.

A friend gives her AP 30 per week, whether she is there or not. Even if family on holiday they will still need to eat :D
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Re: Au pair’s food costs

Postby moncher12 » Wed Mar 14, 2018 3:37 pm

I should clarify - the AP that gets 30 per week has that money for food on weekends/snacks/coffees while out. Mon-Fri all main meals are eaten with family and if she needs/wants supper on the weekend she is welcome to it.
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Re: Au pair’s food costs

Postby AbbevilleMummy » Wed Mar 14, 2018 5:30 pm

I think you’re over thinking it and so getting your knickers in a twist. Why don’t you just say help yourself to anything in the fridge and cupboards and buy enough of everything to account for another adult in the house. Also say to her that she needs to be respectful that everyone is sharing this food. Therefore do not drink the entire OJ carton or eat all the prawns in the fridge and everyone needs to be mindful and courteous to each other.

What is written on her nutritionist plan is none of your concern. If she can’t make her meals within the guidelines above then she will need to but her own food for which you can allocate her a shelf in the fridge/cupboard.

All that is needed is very clear communication and guidelines.
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Re: Au pair’s food costs

Postby LAV000 » Wed Mar 14, 2018 9:06 pm

moncher - I completely agree. It is up to her if she wants to have a PT, nutritionist, physio etc - it doesn’t really bother me how she chooses to spend her money. She doesn’t go out and doesn’t really drink so I’m sure she saves a lot that way compared to a lot of girls her age.

AbbevilleMummy - We tried just buying one extra person’s quantity of food (plus extra things that she particularly likes) but she polished off everything and our fridge and cupboards were bare within days (including things which usually last us over a month). We’re pretty open with each other and both agree that, given how specific her needs now are, it’s probably easier that she does her own shopping going forward.

So it’s just a matter of deciding how much money to give her (and ensuring she doesn’t continue to help herself to everything else - more of an awkward one!). It sounds like £30 per week is a popular view. And I might give her a touch more to keep her happy.
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Re: Au pair’s food costs

Postby daddydaycarerocks » Mon Mar 19, 2018 8:07 am

I think paying here £150 a week is a lot for an au pair - depending on how much she does, £110/£120 should be more than the going rate per week.

On that basis she has extra money for all her food already.
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Re: Au pair’s food costs

Postby NathaliePT » Mon Mar 19, 2018 9:04 am

I don’t know if it is helpful at all, but I am a personal trainer and between me and my partner (who eats a lot) both in our 20s and keen gym goers 5-7 times weekly we spend £50-£70 on food each week. We cook from scratch and obviously very healthy and cooked meals for lunch and dinner. So something around the £30 sounds quite reasonable. This obviously do not include some snacks such as protein bars but this I would consider a luxury and something to come out of spending money rather than household.

As an ex au pair (worked as nanny and au pair for 7 families) I have myself only been eating when food is provided within reasonable limits. As actually only eating three meals a day and if I had any snack it would be a piece of fruit or a rice cake rather than say King prawns, or used milk to make a protein shake etc. But I am also very aware of what food etc cost, maybe she has never done her own shopping and doesn’t understand how much it is costing you?

Maybe just no to scare her off or make her feel upset about the food tell her that you meal plan and budget with the weekly shop and to make sure that you always have the ingredients needed for the meals ask to make her shop separate and then offer whatever money you decide to give her this. I would personally still give her all the basics as using flour, spices etc so you don’t end up with doubles off everything. This will teach her how much things cost and further down the line she might start eating more reasonable and you can then discuss it again. As an au pair most comes straight from home and have never spent money on food so she is probably just not aware of the cost impact.

Also, if you go away on holiday and she stays in your house I would leave her food money.
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Re: Au pair’s food costs

Postby JJJ » Mon Mar 19, 2018 10:26 am

Hello, I was a live in nanny for a few years and never had a problem with sharing food with families I worked for. If I wanted extra food for myself, I would just buy it with my own money or the family would just leave the groceries order page open so I could get things I wanted before they ordered and paid for it (a good way to track how much extra you're spending).
Personally, I think telling your aupair that she can't have any of your food and instead buy all her own food might make her feel unwelcome or that she's eating too much (it would definitely make me feel uncomfortable).
I think £30 sounds like a reasonable amount for her food allowance but I would discuss it with her to make sure she's ok with it.
Hopefully that will make sure she won't eat much of your weekly shopping! Maybe you could also reserve a shelf in the fridge for things that you plan to cook/eat and therefore she can't have (ingredients for meals you plan, kids' snacks, fancy food etc..)

Just wanted to add that, as you said, what she does with her money and during her free time is entirely up to her! And paying and treating your child carers well will always be worth it!
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Re: Au pair’s food costs

Postby supergirl » Mon Mar 19, 2018 11:48 am

I completely agree with Abbeville Mummy - very sensible approach.

Alternatively, calculate your weekly food budget for your family, calculate the amount per adults and kids snd give her the same amount as what you spend on an adult.

In my eyes 25/30 pounds seem very low to my but thats because the food budget is very very high and I would hate the thought of eating well myself when someone under my roof is not.