It's now been almost three weeks since our 18 year old left for a six week voluntary army-style course. If any Kiwis out there have an 18-25 year old who is struggling to find work or needs some self-confidence and motivation, I'd highly recommend this course! It's fully funded and they still receive their WINZ benefit (if they're entitled to one).
The course is available throughout New Zealand, and our son is based at the Hobsonville camp in Auckland. It's run by the NZ Defence Force so as you can imagine, it's pretty strict. They're up at 5.30am, dressed in army gear, and are kept active all day! The idea is to boost their confidence and improve their job prospects. They do a basic first aid course, learn interview skills and have their CVs professionally prepared. They do lots of fitness training and I believe they also get a certificate and a reference. Apparently the course really boosts their job prospects.
But how on earth they manage to feed a hoard of hungry teens and young adults, I can only imagine! Our lad is well over six foot and his main past time is bulking himself up at the gym. This means he can eat like you wouldn't believe (unless you have your own teen boy, then I'm sure you'll believe it!). To be honest, we really struggle to keep him full. It doesn't help that he can be a fussy bugger too! So as much as I miss him and worry about him, I am thrilled at how much longer the pantry and fridge is staying full! We are rejoicing in actually having leftovers! We can leave treats in the cupboard and know they'll be there the next day! A roast dinner now feeds myself, my hubby, our two girls and there's plenty left for lunches the next day. That's just unheard of in our house!
We got a letter from him today (they're not allowed to make phone calls - so they have to write letters, I imagine it would be a first for most of them!). He says he loves the food, which is plentiful. It's so good to know that he is being well fed. And for six weeks, it's a huge saving on our grocery bills and a great opportunity for us to practice being more thrifty. When our boy is home I always cook as much as possible because I know he'll eat whatever is going. Our two girls are not huge eaters, and hubby and I are both trying to lose weight, so we're practicing portion control and being creative with ingredients (although my weigh-in last week was a disappointment, I gained 200g!)
One of my favourite recipes to keep the troops hungry without spending a fortune is homemade pizzas. They're perfect for quick and easy dinners and weekend lunches. I'm not a great baker, but with no yeast involved, this one is a no-fail! Here's the run down…
- Simply make a dough by mixing together 2 cups of flour, 2 teaspoons of baking powder, 1 tablespoon of butter and about ¾ cup of milk. Add a few mixed herbs in to the dough if you like (I love them, but the kids aren't so keen). Roll out the dough and place on a lined baking tray. Spread with a tin of spaghetti and whatever else takes your fancy such as some sliced ham, onions, capsicum. Sprinkle some grated cheese on top and bake at about 220 for around 20 minutes. They're nice even with just spag and cheese.
My boy could eat the entire thing and still be hungry, so if I'm making dinner then I'd usually make an extra one just for him! If you have any tips and ideas on economical ways to feed hungry teens, I'd love to hear them!
I'll leave you with a quote that seems fitting to the topic of teens. It's an Italian proverb and really does sum up how it feels to be a parent as your kids grow…
Little children… headache, big children… heartache.