The Hard-Learned Lessons of Feeding Small Humans

The arrival of a second child creates a whole new look at grocery shopping

Before my son was born, I was petrified of everything. How our life would change, how I would change, and that this whole making a new human thing was a terrible, terrible mistake.

My husband, on the other hand, was cool as a cucumber. He knew that our kid was going to be amazing, and we could be amazing parents, and all was right with the world. And of course, he knew that our kid would eat what we eat; we wouldn’t raise one of those brats that demand a special meal every night.

We’re a couple of weeks away from baby No. 2 making her appearance, and this go-around our roles are reversed. He’s scared of re-entering the realm of the utterly exhausted, while I know it will be chaos for me, chaos has become a comfortable status quo that is worth its weight in hugs and giggles.

To be honest, part of my newly-found sense of chill is that my standards are now much, much lower. The likelihood that I’ll stay up late to clean, dice, steam and puree all of her baby food from scratch as I did for her brother is pretty slim.

I’ve learned that applesauce from a pouch is infinitely more coveted than apples picked at a local orchard that have been stewed and mashed at home, and that organic food is to be purchased strategically. Dairy, the dirty dozen, and some well-established favorites are about all the organic items I will fit into my $500 a month grocery budget.

Almost everything else will end up in my (ever expanding) dog or my vacuum anyway. And of course, I know that chicken nuggets shaped like dinosaurs are a food group in and of themselves.

I once heard the CEO of a children’s store chain talk about how the vast majority of their revenue comes from first-time parents. When subsequent kids come along parents spend far, far less, either because they already have what they need or because they know that kids don’t need much at all.

I’m no expert, but I’d say when it comes to feeding small children the opposite is true. As pro parents this go around we are no longer under the misconception that toddlers will happily gobble up tofu stir-fries or shakshuka for dinner.

Most of our grocery budget is spent with the nourishment and cooperation of tiny humans in mind. The rest of us…well, we’re just learning to appreciate a good dinosaur-shaped budget.