When you welcome an au pair into your home, you will be responsible for giving them safe and secure board and accommodation. Naturally, your household expenses will rise and with that your grocery budget. Enough food is an integral part of feeling safe in a home and as with any members of the family you should ensure that your au pair will be well nourished and happy with the food they have access to. But if you are managing a tight budget and have cost constraints, you also want to avoid spending more than is necessary or buying too many luxuries, and it may be essential to manage your food budget well from day one.
As you plan a food budget that includes your au pair, begin by considering your au pair’s food needs just as you would for any other member of your family. An au pair will want enough food, healthy and nutritious food, food that caters for any dietary restrictions or food allergies, not forgetting to food that they actually like!
You should also weigh this up against your concerns. These may include:
- – Overspending on expensive and luxury items
- – Wasting money on food that doesn’t get eaten
- – Planning for meals, buying ahead of time and having food available as planned
- – Combining their eating preferences, habits and culture with your family’s food culture.
Once you have considered these aspects you can start to calculate what it will cost extra to feed another adult in your home. Look at your family’s weekly food spending and calculate how much of that is spent on each adult. For example, if you spend 25% of your weekly budget on each adult then you can expect to add at least 25% for the au pair. Leave some room in your budget to allow you to buy their favourite food and treats and for extra items like sauces or condiments which they may use regularly.
With a clear food budget and strategy in mind, the next step will be to communicate this clearly with your au pair and try to ensure that there are no misunderstandings regarding your or your au pair’s expectations toward food. The following suggestions can make the process easier.
- – Communicate your expectations about food early on. Go through your food pantry and fridge with you au pair and discuss a typical week’s meals for your family.
- – Let your au pair tell you their food preferences, routines, likes and dislikes.
- – Buy weekly, especially in the beginning. This will help you avoid unnecessary waste.
- – Plan your menu with your au pair. This will give them a better understanding of how you use each food item and if you will need anything for a specific meal.
- – Give your au pair the option to buy some extras, within limits, just as you would allow extras and treats for your family.
- – If your au pair has a very different food culture from your own, you can encourage them to try eating your food as part of their experience of getting to know a new country and its cultures.
- – Speak to your au pair agency for advice. They may have very handy suggestions or figures available to assist you in managing a budget.
Smartaupairs is an au pair agency in Sydney that specialises in finding and placing au pairs with host families across Australia. Throughout their thorough process of au pair background checks and screening, their team aims to match au pairs perfectly with families. They also provide extensive training and preparation material, as well as continuous support to the host families and the au pairs to help make the au pair experience as happy as possible for all parties. If you are interested in finding the perfect au pair for your family, register on their website or call 02 9451 3888 for more information.