Your au pair is supposed to live with you like a member of the family, so if you are treating your au pair like a brother or sister who is coming for an extended stay, then you are following the intent of the program. Au pairs should have at least 3 healthy and balanced meals per day. Some families tell their au pairs that they can eat whatever they want; others feel more comfortable having a certain shelf in the pantry or fridge with food that is reserved for special occasions; and others label food if it needs to be saved. Almost all host families have a grocery list and the expectation that if something is low or gone, it needs to be added to the list.
It is also a good idea to talk with your au pair about his normal diet. You are not required to provide special food for your au pair, but most families will ask their au pair if they would like to add certain foods to the shopping list. Remember, au pairs’ bodies are often still developing, so their appetite might be bigger than you expect. Also, many au pairs are not used to the variety of foods that are available in the US. It is ok to discuss with your au pair the amount of food that should be consumed per day (i.e. please don’t eat more than 3 pieces of fresh fruit per day so it can last until I go shopping again.)
If you invite your au pair out to dinner with your family, you should plan on paying for your au pair. It’s also OK not to invite your au pair out, but you should make sure that your au pair can make a meal for themselves at home. Lastly, if you go on vacation and leave your au pair at home you need to stock up on groceries for your au pair before you leave.
*** Advice to au pairs: Remember that even though you are to live with your host family like a member of the family, you are still a guest in their home. Try to match your eating style to that of your host family’s. If you like to eat food that the family doesn’t feel free to purchase it yourself. If you are still hungry after a typical meal, ask your family what foods they are OK you eating afterwards. In my home my four growing boys know that they are welcome to as many vegetables they want after dinner. Many families in the US consider treats like ice cream, cookies and such to be occasional food that shouldn’t be eaten every day. If you don’t know what is acceptable, please ask. You might feel a little uncomfortable at first, but it will be better for everyone in the long run if everyone is on the same page. Finally, remember that all personal items are your responsibility to purchase.
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