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Do You Allow Your Kids Free Access to the Kitchen?


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I have always just let my kids go into the kitchen and help themselves whenever they're hungry. I keep it stocked with snacks that they like. The only thing they have to ask permission about is soda. I only allow them to have one can/glass of soda a day, so by their asking me first, I am able to keep up with who has had their soda for the day.

 

I have a friend who is the opposite. She does not let her kids go into the kitchen to get food unless they ask first, and even then the answer is probably going to be "no". They eat regularly, 3 meals a day, and usually get one snack somewhere in there if it might be a long time between meals. They are not limited as to the amount they can eat at each meal, and they know that they had better fill up while they can. They are not allowed to have soda at all, except for the occasional Sprite for special occasions. She is thin, and seems to be very healthy, and her kids seem to be very healthy.

 

She also always seems to have money for anything that comes up. Whenever she needs something, she can just go and buy it. No problem. They take a few nice vacations each year. I, on the other hand, am always having to scrape for money whenever we need something, and we never have money for vacations. I want to add that while I may be slightly jealous, I am also very happy for her to be able to live this way and not have to worry about money like I do.

 

Our DH's salaries are comparable. My kids and I usually eat out once or twice a week, and her family might go out for a nice dinner once a week. The main difference between us is that I am running to the store 3 or 4 times a week buying things that we've run out of; and she goes to the store once a week - maybe twice if she has forgotten something important.

 

So, my question is, do I need to switch over to her side of thinking about feeding the kids, or is there a happy middle??? I think if I make them stop their snacking, they will go into shock or something :001_huh: Besides it hurting my purse, is it hurting their health?

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Whether the snacks your children are eating are more expensive than meal-type food would be. Often snacks are sort of expensive. Certainly drinking soda can me. I don't allow my children to drink soda very often - once in a while as a special treat.

 

I do let my children snack, but not so much on "snack food." If I have left overs, they tend to get eaten. My kids will make sandwiches for snacks or have fruit smoothies. We eat a lot of fruit and a lot of vegetables, and I do think that can be expensive. If I had to guess, it's a lot cheaper to give children large, planned meals then to let them eat traditional American "snack foods." But if your kids snack on leftover soup or rice and beans from the night before, then it's not so expensive and if you keep snack foods that are reasonably priced (homemade bread? hummus and veggie sticks?) it might be a good compromise between a free for all and eliminating all snacking.

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My kids have free access. We do 5-6 small meals per day though really only supper as a family usually.

 

I think I would buy enough food for the week. Mark which things are for a specific meal. And then when anything else is gone, it's gone for the week. So if they eat 16 apples on Monday and Tuesday, tough til Saturday. Or whatever...

 

But I wouldn't go to the store several times per week. Each time, you're probably spending more than you're intending. That can REALLY add up.

 

Oh, my kids do ask about certain foods if they think there may be an issue. For example, we usually MAKE tortillas for snacking on while I buy them for certain meals. But my kids are teens now. I would be more careful if they were younger.

Edited by 2J5M9K
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No, mine depend on me to get their food and snacks. Probably cause mine are too small to reach the upper cabinets where most of the ready to eat food is at. Although, they can reach the fruit on the counter and sometimes do eat one of those. We don't drink soda here either. I think it is a good idea to limit free snacking to prevent eating just to do something. Not to mention my kitchen would be a disaster if I let free snacking all day. Hope this helps.

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She has restricted free access. How's that? LOL

 

If dd is foraging around in the kitchen, I note to myself how long it's been since her last meal and what did she have. She's more of a snacker, anyway, so I don't mind small meals more often, but she can get carried away, so I do try to monitor what she's eating and when.

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I think there is a happy middle.

 

My children help themselves to fruit and the cut veggies I keep in the fridge. We don't have soda in the house and they need to ask for juice (because they will fill up on it before a meal if they are getting hungry just as dinner is about to be served, for example. Also, juice isn't that great for them. They are better off with a glass of milk and an apple than a large glass of apple juice.). But they can help themselves to milk, drinking yogurts, yogurts, cheese, etc. We usually have some baked cookies in the house, and they can help themselves to them after a meal. The older guys make sandwiches or boil an egg for a snack or quick fix before a practice or outing, etc.

 

We keep chips, juice boxes, granola bars, etc in the basement. They are for treats or trips to the beach, museum, zoo, etc.

 

Basically, we have a few easy, nutritious snacks that they can graze. Treats are treats and aren't a daily thing, but they aren't forbidden either.

 

I hope that helps. As I read this I realize I might sound a little controlling about food. I don't think I am--it's more a matter of having healthy things available for snacking and keeping snacky snack foods off the menu.

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What are they snacking on?

 

My DS doesn't snack as much as his sisters. He might occasionally have a few chips or a bowl of ice cream. Sometimes he eats popcorn. He won't eat fruits or vegetables :( He takes a vitamin every day and sometimes he'll drink some apple juice.

 

My girls are the big snackers. They will eat fruit whenever it's available. They also like to eat crackers (mostly the goldfish crackers), chips, popcorn, and sometimes a few cookies (I don't buy cookies very often because I would probably eat them myself). But sometimes it seems like they're having more of a meal rather than a snack. For example, it's not uncommon to see them having a sandwich, pancakes, pop-tarts, cereal, etc., at odd times of the day.

 

We never have leftovers for them to snack on. We live with my father and he makes sure there are never any leftovers.

 

P.S. - One of my girls is on the couch eating goldfish right now....

Edited by hsmom3tn
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But I wouldn't go to the store several times per week. Each time, you're probably spending more than you're intending. That can REALLY add up.

 

 

That's exactly what happens. I'll go to the store for certain things and come back out with all that and much more :(

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Your friend sounds a lot like me. My kids have to ask before eating. If they had free range, they would eat me out of the house. They get 3 meals and 2-3 snacks a day..they don't need any more. They are unrestricted on water :D

 

My friend lets her kids free range, and can't keep things stocked for more than a day or two before they eat it all. Even things she has plans for. This would drive me insane..lol.

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Mine do not have free access. Breakfast when they wake up, lunch around 11:30-12:30, snack at 3:00, dinner anywhere from 6:30-8:00 depending on the evening. They've been hungrier lately, so I keep a bowl of apples and some bananas out and they can have one of those if they ask first.

 

They get 1 cup of milk in the morning and 1 cup of juice at dinner. Other than that they drink water. If I let them have 1 can of soda a day, it would be at around $36/month, or $432/year on empty, useless calories (based on an average $3/12 pack).

 

I go to the store once a week, period. Going more often causes me to spend too much.

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Your friend sounds a lot like me. My kids have to ask before eating. If they had free range, they would eat me out of the house. They get 3 meals and 2-3 snacks a day..they don't need any more. They are unrestricted on water :D

 

.

 

This is the way it is at our house. Free range would be chaotic with so many people.

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So, my question is, do I need to switch over to her side of thinking about feeding the kids, or is there a happy middle??? I think if I make them stop their snacking, they will go into shock or something :001_huh: Besides it hurting my purse, is it hurting their health?

 

It sounds like better planning for your grocery trips and stocking up during sales are where you two might have major differences. I love this website (free): http://www.pinchingyourpennies.com/ I go there to find out which store has the best deals on things my family eats. :thumbup: I also make sure that I shop from my list and avoid impulse buys. I generally do one trip to a grocery store per week and I go to Costco twice per month. Planning my meals out for the week also helps me save money because I know exactly what I need and avoid buying things that are not going to end up getting used. :)

 

On the eating thing, my children can eat when they are hungry (which is what I prefer to do as well). We do have three regular meals per day, but I also have things on hand for snacks: graham crackers, yogurt, carrots, apples, bananas, tortilla chips, string cheese, etc. The snacks I purchase are not very expensive and I like having things on hand that they can get themselves. :)

 

ETA: Water is what they drink for the most part. I keep the kid cups and plates in a low cupboard and we have a water dispenser in the door of our refrigerator, so they can get their own drinks. They have milk in their cereal and maybe one glass of milk per day. We don't drink soda except for parties/birthdays/etc. That's an expense that you could easily cut out. :)

Edited by Veritaserum
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As long as my kids are eating their meals they can eat pretty much unrestricted. Yes, if I see someone heading to the pantry while I am cooking I say "no" but other than that if they are hungry, they eat. When planning my grocery list, I keep in mind all meals, plus snacks, plus anything special we need to go along with our studies. We keep healthy snacks like cucumbers and carrots (love the fresh stuff from Grandpa's garden) and have the occasional junk like granola bars and Fruit Loops.

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My kids pretty much have free access with some restrictions.

 

1. They aren't allowed to drink soda.

 

2. I have a "for dinner, only!" shelf in my pantry so that they aren't using items I need for meals.

 

3. I have a lunch/snack shelf that they have complete freedom to forage from. I *do not* replenish this through the week. So, if they eat all the granola bars in one day that's their problem, I have plenty of other snacks.

 

4. I clean all the fruit and veggies and cut up veggies and place them in tubs for them to snack on. Again, I have a "for meals, only!" shelf so that they don't use things I need for meals.

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Mine snack as needed as they are all underweight and need every ounce they can get. ;) However, snacks are chips, apples, bananas, oranges, rice chex and once a week we have homemade (from scratch due to allergies) brownies/cookies along with some kind of cake. They are currently learning to self regulate the need to eat the entire bag of chips in a day as once we are out, we are out. That means no chips for lunch. Tuff. Mine are old enough that I can give them the heads up that we need to go here on this day so save the chips for that day or keep some apples for this etc. The youngest can't reach anything so I don't have to worry about her. Peanut butter is a go to snack along with chocolate chips (the oldest makes a great dip for apples) Before our food allergies were discovered, we spent a lot of $ on pre-made foods. Now it's all scratch and so much cheaper. But once we are out, we are just out until the weekly trip. I wouldn't run to the store to get any snack food of any sort just because they ate it all. There's only so much food needed in a week and if you ate it all up in a day or two, then oh well. Leftovers from dinner are in the fridge along with eggs and veggies.:D

 

PS a funny..lately the capri suns have been on a stupid cheap sale and I've been allowing them to get a box at the store. The three year old would go thru the box in a day if we were not careful (and being so sick with the #4 I haven't been careful). After a couple of weeks of completely draining those things, I heard her tell her brother after her second one today, "no more for me til morrow"!!!:lol: They do learn to moderate.

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I don't allow free access to my kitchen. I do allow some snacks, and buy some snack type items, but those are rare. I only buy soda to take to potlucks and don't keep any at home. I allow 1 46 oz bottle of juice a week because that is what we get with WIC. Once it is gone, it is gone. I don't make koolaid except for rare occassions (like when lots of neighbor kids are here. I also don't buy chips often and never cookies or anything like that. It is expensive and has little nutritional value. I may make them on occassion,but that is rare as well.

 

I try to keep fruit and veggies for snacks. My son doesn't prefer raw those so he can wait until a meal is served. I buy goldfish crackers because my dd needs them for her therapy. If I keep more than one small bag, my ds wil absolutely binge on them. I believe there are ingredients in them that make him hungry and that keep him from being satisfied (I also feel that way about other junk foods).

 

I did at one time allow free access. I stopped it because I found many times the reason why my kids were in there was because they were eating out of boredom. By closing the kitchen (and not buying junk snacks) my son spends less time in the cabinets, eats a more of a more nutritious meal, and is a healthier weight. I don't find boxes that are only holding 1 cookie/chip/cracker. I also spend less on food and I am better able to keep a schedule for eating. We do have snacks. Depending on the day and level of activity, it may be a sandwich or popcorn or almost a full meal.

 

I only go to the grocery store between major trips for milk, eggs, and fresh veggies.

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We are just like your friend: three meals and usually a snack, no food in between and never food without asking (they don't even ask really, they know the system and just eat what they need at meals to get them through.) They can get water whenever they want, and they only drink water except for a glass of milk with breakfast and dinner.

 

A compromise would be to grocery shop once a week, and then when the snacks are gone, they are gone.

 

Snack foods are much more expensive than meal foods usually, so having them fill up at meals rather than depending on snacks helps cut down spending. :001_smile:

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My son has free access. However when we are out of something, we are out until the next pay day. If he eats all the chips the first few days, the rest of the time he will have to snack on veggies or whatever else is in the house. He is 17, so I don't say you can only have one pop a day. But we buy pop at Costco once a month and when it's gone it's gone. When he was younger,I did have some restrictions. But the thing that helps the most with grocery bills is budgeting and saying we have x amount to spend. That way our whole family ends up using the pantry more and not just going for the convenience foods.

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You all have given me some good ideas. I feel like the answer to part of my money problems has been right in my face for so long, LOL.

 

I talked to my kids about this a little while ago. I told them we are going to make a list each week of what we need for the week and just make one trip to the store (usually on Friday's after we get paid). When we run out of things, we won't go back until the next Friday. An exception would be if we run out of fruit - that would be bad for me :) - so I'll run to the produce market where I will only buy the fruit that I need.

 

I have already had to do something similar with frozen pizzas. My DS was eating pizza every day, and when the girls wanted pizza, too, we were going through way too much frozen pizza. Those things are getting expensive! So, I cut them back to 2 pizzas per week. DS gets 2 and the girls get 2 (they share - not 2 each). After that, no more until next week.

 

We also used to have a rule about eating late... no eating after 8:00 p.m. I don't know what happened to that, but I remember that it cut down on the snacking quite a bit. Maybe it got too hard since we're night-owls and tend to stay up late and sleep late. Maybe I'll try it again but make it 9:00...

Do any of you have a "kitchen is closed", cut-off time for eating?

 

I am seriously considering the no soda except for special occasions idea. I've only allowed them to have one a day because that's what I was allowed growing up. It's just habit, I guess.

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We have three meals and one snack a day. Outside of those times, they are allowed to have a piece of fruit.

 

Water is what they're allowed to drink outside of meals. We save the juice for breakfast and don't give them milk or soda.

 

Kitchen closes after dinner, which is between six and seven. Past that, you can have an apple.

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Not FREE access - they usually ask and I usually say Yes to a healthy snack. I have seen other people's kids come to my house and open up my pantry or fridge looking for something to eat, so I have taught my kids to ask first, even at home. I am very good at putting snacks out twice a day. If fruit or veggies are sitting out on the counter, they will eat them. The kids know that if food is sitting on the counter or table - dig in. I have really made a point to provide yummy, healthy snacks to hopefully prevent them from grazing but to develop a healthier eating routine. Last year I even wrote down our planned snacks along with our lunches and dinners and it was kind of fun to try to plan different things to eat every day. I don't know if it saves money in the long run, but I know convience foods are expensive, but then again so are fresh fruit and veggies.

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I don't necessarily think the snacking is costing you more money, though it might be. I think what is costing you more is running to the store frequently. We live about 10 miles from the grocery store and even then, I don't shop there much as it is extremely expensive.

 

I tend to buy very little processed food even including snacks and I buy in bulk. We buy in bulk through a food coop and keep our freezer stocked so we aren't running to the store all the time.

 

By cutting out most processed food and buying in bulk, I am not tempted to run to the store for 3 things I need and come home with 6 things I didn't need. I wouldn't try to do this quickly, but ease into it or your family may revolt.

 

I hope this helps a bit. As for snacks, I keep crackers, cheese, yogurt and fruit and nuts around. We make cookies or bars once in a while, but don't keep them around or boxed cereal. If we did it would be gone within 24 hours.

 

Kristi

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For the most part, no. We ate three meals together, and minimal snacks, never soft drinks. There was no need for them to have free access to the kitchen for anything except water.

 

Eventually, when they were going to c.c. and working and all, they were free to fix their own meals because they just weren't home when Mr. Ellie and I ate. But they had to clean their messes such that I couldn't tell they'd been there.

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can help. My children have open access to the kitchen but will ask when it is something like soda (they might have 1 can between the 3 of them a day), sweet snacks or they have to get out a lot of stuff and may make a mess (like any sandwich). I also, limit sweets, and rarely buy fast prep foods (Rice-a-roni, Hamburger helper, or cup-o-noodles). I pretty much make everything from scratch, which is easier and faster than many people think. I keep well stocked on fruits and veggies and the kids get three meals a day. I usually only cook the amount o food I now we need and only make extra if I know it will get used. I only go to the grocery store once a week.

 

I am able to eat out at nice places if I wish, but am a bit of a homebody. I have seen a big improvement in our finances and stress level since I began running the house in this way. It was done out of need though, since we have raised three children that were left on our door step. Dh and I found ourselves not eating to be able to feed all the kiddies. It has also helped us during this crisis, since dh lost his job four months back. We had savings to fall back on, and didn't feel such a loss of extras. Ironically we have had to pay one of my BIL's rent twice as a loan even though he is working. They may have ended up on the street if I hadn't learned to budget... hope they will learn soon.

 

I think it comes down to what each person wants and what you have to work with. Just don't over do it though.

 

Danielle

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For the most part, yes, my kids do have free access to the kitchen. When I hear the kids in the kitchen, I ask them what they are looking for. I will suggest something like fruit, veggies or nuts or cheese, especially for ds15, who would eat a bowl of cereal every hour. I don't keep around much in "snacky" foods. If we have them, they are usually to serve when we have guests over. Our cereals are usuallly a natural brand that is whole grain. They are supposed to restrain themselves to only one serving of juice a day. They can have water or milk. We go to the grocery store about 2 - 3 times a week, usually to replenish rice milk and cereal.

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I do have a kitchen cut off time. Usually 8 or 9 pm. We don't eat dinner until dh comes home which may be 6 or 6:30. Bedtime is 10 so if they are hungry they can have something very small - like a piece of toast. Ihave found that by limiting bedtime snacks they are more hungry for breakfast the next morning too.

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It depends on the snack. Yogurt, cheese sticks, cereal bars, fruit-they don't ask. The yummy chocolate covered granola bars are more restricted. LOL They never ask for pop because they know they only get it on Friday nights with pizza even though I drink a couple a day. But-my boys are still on the younger side. As they grow up, I expect more independence on their part and less restriction on my part. Right now, they're still learning healthy food choices.

I am a firm believer in healthy snacking as part of a healthy diet. If it's hurting your wallet though maybe try less prepackaged stuff and more things you can buy in bulk. I have a stack of smallish snack bowls (old baby cereal bowls) that are used for snacks. Fill it with crackers and it's about the right size for a serving.

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Our kids have free access to the kitchen with the following exceptions:

 

- no soda (DH and I don't drink it either so it's not even in the house as an option)

- 1 glass juice a day

- 1 yogurt a day

- 1 piece of cheese a day

 

Without the yogurt/cheese rule, that's all they would both eat. But we have a snack box on a bottom shelf in the pantry and a snack box on the bottom shelf of our fridge full of healthy snacks they are welcome to help themselves to whenever they want without asking. I have, on occasion, asked them to put something back if dinner is less than 30 minutes away. It never ceases to amaze me how I can toss a few pieces of candy in their snack box and they will pick the dried apricots or trail mix instead. Whatever we're doing must be working right for our kids. :)

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I do like them to ask before they get food and the answer is usually yes. We normally don't keep junk food around so that's not a problem, but they would drink a gallon of milk a day if I let them- which wouldn't be a problem if milk wasn't so expensive:glare:

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can help. My children have open access to the kitchen but will ask when it is something like soda (they might have 1 can between the 3 of them a day), sweet snacks or they have to get out a lot of stuff and may make a mess (like any sandwich). I also, limit sweets, and rarely buy fast prep foods (Rice-a-roni, Hamburger helper, or cup-o-noodles). I pretty much make everything from scratch, which is easier and faster than many people think. I keep well stocked on fruits and veggies and the kids get three meals a day. I usually only cook the amount o food I now we need and only make extra if I know it will get used. I only go to the grocery store once a week.

 

Danielle

 

I second this. I make everything I can from scratch. It really doesn't take that much longer to throw flour, sugar, baking powder/soda into my Kitchen Aid than it does for me to open up a box of cake mix. It's cheaper too and I know exactly what's in it!

 

I don't buy sweets either except on rare occasions. My kids are exposed to them enough at other places - grandma's, friends' houses, birthday parties, etc.

 

Another thing that helped us was when I came to the conclusion that if some sort of junk food is worth eating, it's worth making it from scratch. So if I want cinnamon rolls I have to ask myself if they're worth making from scratch. Same with brownies, cookies, etc. That alone cut down on the amount of sweets we bought. It's easy to see the $2 container of cinnamon rolls at the store on sale and think, "Oh, that sounds good. I'll grab some." It's a whole other matter when you have to make the dough, fill it, roll it, cut it, proof it, bake it, and then make a glaze to put on the top!

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My kids have free access. I control it by what I buy. I do not buy soda, chips, etc. I usually always have pretzels, nuts, popcorn, dried fruit, peanut/almond butter, veggies/fruit, cottage cheese, yogurt. Those snack foods are always available. If I buy something special that I'm saving for a certain meal, they would probably come ask just because it's out of the ordinary.

 

I shop about once every two months except for dairy and fresh produce. I calculate pretty closely how much we need, and I usually don't run out. If I do, then they have to find something else.

 

Janet

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My kids have free access to: yogurt (plain) that can be sweetened with all fruit jelly, homemade bread and peanut butter or sunflower butter (for the peanut allergic child), homemade hummus with pita or veggies, veggies, fruit, sunflower seeds, almonds, and raisins.

 

I don't buy pop, juice, chips, or sugary treats unless there's a very special occasion.

 

I shop once/week and have all our meals planned out, so they can't have free access or I'd be missing an ingredient!

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I shop once/week and have all our meals planned out, so they can't have free access or I'd be missing an ingredient!

 

See, this is why I have the "for meals, do not eat!" shelf in both my fridge and pantry. Otherwise, they'd eat both containers of cottage cheese and was one meant for lasagna or what have you. But they do respect the "do not eat" shelf and it works for us. :)

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No free access here. They get 3 meals, plus an am snack and pm snack. Snacks are a minimum of 2 food groups, same as what I did when I was running a dayhome.

 

As I mentioned in another thread, many people will eat when in reality they're thirsty...or bored. The kids can have as much water as they can hold ;) They do get juice at other times, although I'm working to restrict that to snack time as well, as they'll binge on it.

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As I mentioned in another thread, many people will eat when in reality they're thirsty...or bored. The kids can have as much water as they can hold ;) They do get juice at other times, although I'm working to restrict that to snack time as well, as they'll binge on it.

 

It's probably worth pointing out that my kids are underweight. I've been to a pediatric gastroenterologist, a nutritionist *and* a geneticist with *all three* of my kids because they are so tiny. So, if they are eating because they are thirsty or bored I am fine with that. I can see why other families would feel differently.

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I am somewhere in the middle as well. I have a huge fruit bowl that sits in the middle of my dining room table. I go to the grocery store once a week, and the kids get to pick out whatever they want (i.e. plan to actually eat) to fill it up. I also have a list on the fridge of snacks they're allowed to have whenever - usually things like yogurt, raisins, fruit cups, etc. They help me pick those out, too. Those are available whenever they like. The catch(!!!) is that if they eat a snack, they have to be able to eat a full meal at lunch/dinnertime. Sometimes this does slow them down; sometimes not. They love being able to have the freedom to decide when they're hungry/full, which I think is healthy. They also know that if they totally pig out on the snacks the first couple of days, I'm not going to the store again until the next week, so they're out of luck.

 

Baked goods, candies, and soda (and even juice, since my kids are still relatively little) require permission and are usually only given in the afternoons.

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Your friend sounds a lot like me. My kids have to ask before eating. If they had free range, they would eat me out of the house. They get 3 meals and 2-3 snacks a day..they don't need any more. They are unrestricted on water :D

 

My friend lets her kids free range, and can't keep things stocked for more than a day or two before they eat it all. Even things she has plans for. This would drive me insane..lol.

 

That's how it works here. They have breakfast (usually 2-3 muffins, oatmeal, pancakes, something I make) and then have a snack around 10. Lunch around noonish, then a snack around 3. Supper around 5 or 6, and maybe a snack before bed, if they're up late or we eat light and early.

 

We keep almost no processed food in the house - no soda, no juice, few, if any packaged snacks (we have some Annie's cheddar bunnies and bunny grahams that I got with our June 4th food pickup that they still haven't eaten through) - so the kids either snack on yogurt, homemade baked goods, trail mix (granola, dried fruit, chocolate chips), fruit...

 

They have milk with meals and before bed, and free access to water. If my kids had free access to packaged foods, my grocery bill would double. (And, yes, they are on the thin side, healthy, and rarely ill)

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DD has free access. She knows what things she's not allowed to get into and just eat (such as ice cream) and leaves those things alone, usually. I leave healthy snacks available, and she grazes through the day. She eats things like cheese and crackers, lunchmeat, sunflower seed butter and jam sandwiches (which she will make herself), toast (I only buy whole wheat bread), fruit (fresh and dried and, less often, canned), etc. She is allowed to use the toaster, but not the microwave, primarily because the microwave is located above the stove and it's not safe for her to climb to reach it.

 

She is free to graze on whatever she wants. I make sure she gets a good breakfast, something slightly substantial for lunch, and some kind of (often somewhat late) dinner, but our hours aren't always very consistent. Mostly she grazes. I encourage this independence because it means she doesn't come and wake me up just because she's hungry (I work nights and she knows to wake me only in case of an emergency).

 

I really don't think being a grazer/snacker is any danger to her health. She's five and a half and weighs all of 34lbs. (she's like 40-41 in. tall).

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Free access here. There is plenty of vegetables and fruit in the house for snacking. I go grocery shopping once a week and if they eat all the plums in 3 days then they have to find something else to eat. I do close the kitchen around 8pm because snacking too close to bed times seems to make falling asleep a problem and my dd has nightmares.

 

They will ask about some things -like mozzerella cheese -because they know I may need it for something I am making.

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Free access here. The only time I would start to restrict is if someone was picking at their meals. I keep a big bowl of fresh fruit, yogurt to make smoothies, crackers and cheese, etc. in the kitchen.

 

My kids are old enough to know if something is to be used for a meal, or if they aren't sure they'll ask first.

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