Author Topic: What we SHOULD eat vs. What we should EAT.  (Read 7624 times)

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Thipu1

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What we SHOULD eat vs. What we should EAT.
« on: January 19, 2014, 11:49:26 AM »
We'll be visiting MIL next week and would like a suggestion or two from the people here.

MIL lives in a senior community and, when we visit, is very vocal about how we should eat plenty of fruit and vegetables with little meat.  Our desserts should be fresh fruit.  That's just fine with us.

The problem comes up when we have dinner in the Dining Room each evening.   The place offers a rather extensive salad bar and a good buffet of hot food including a carving station.  The menu changes every day.    There's also an option to order from an alternate menu with more expensive items such as steak, salmon and scampi.  Residents are charged 20 USD for each guest at dinner regardless of how much or how little the guest eats.  The price is the same for the standard buffet and the alternate menu.     

MIL wants to get her money's worth. Although we're quite happy with the buffet she almost demands
that we order double portions from the alternate menu and seems a bit put out when we don't. 

We aren't adolescents.  We've reached the age at which we simply  can't eat soup, salad, vegetables, a starch and two steaks or a double order of scampi each. 

We've always offered to reimburse her for our dinners but this doesn't go over well because we are her 'children' and she must provide.

This time, we've thought about just leaving the money in a prominent place in her apartment when we leave. 

Any other suggestions?               

otterwoman

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Re: What we SHOULD eat vs. What we should EAT.
« Reply #1 on: January 19, 2014, 11:54:49 AM »
Would it more cost efficient to eat out at a restaurant instead of her dining room? You could say you'd like to get her out and about...

I have hidden cash in a relative's coat pocket once after she was extremely generous with me. That way I gave her money without her realizing it came from me.

Thipu1

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Re: What we SHOULD eat vs. What we should EAT.
« Reply #2 on: January 19, 2014, 12:07:29 PM »
When we visit, we take her and a friend or two of out for lunch. There's an ethnic place in town she enjoys and doesn't get to visit often.

As I said, MIL wants to get her money's worth.  Her dinner is already paid for in the monthly fee she pays for her apartment.   Also, bringing guests to the dining room is a very visible sign that she has visitors. 

Oh Joy

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Re: What we SHOULD eat vs. What we should EAT.
« Reply #3 on: January 19, 2014, 12:09:12 PM »
Oh...so many dynamics at play at these communities!   :)

One question: does MIL's dining package for herself include the full access that her guests have, or is it more limited?
« Last Edit: January 19, 2014, 12:10:49 PM by Oh Joy »

Margo

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Re: What we SHOULD eat vs. What we should EAT.
« Reply #4 on: January 19, 2014, 12:22:05 PM »
Is the cost an issue for her, or just that if you (or she) are paying $20 you should get as much value for money as possible.

If you are concerned about the cost to her, then you could either leave some cash, or consider buying things which she might otherwise have to pay for (is a gift more acceptable than cash? If so, are there things such as  magazine or film subscriptions, clothes or toiletries which you could buy as gifts rather than giving her cash directly.

If the expense is not an issue, but the fact that she feels you are not eating $20 worth is, then it may be worth seeing whether you can eat away from the dining room sometimes - as Otterwoman suggests, could you take her out to eat some evenings?

Would it help to reference her own advice about healthy eating when you chose what to order? So that you are focussing on one aspect of her concerns (healthy eating) rather than another (getting you 'monies worth')

If it's a really big thing for her then another option is to order from the full menu (at least dome of the time) but only eat the quantity you feel comfortable with - you don't have to eat all of your soup, or steak, or scampi.

Would she be open to your husband having a conversation with her to say "It's lovely that you want to treat us to our meals while we're here, and we do understand that $20 seems a lot if we mostly just have soup and salad, but honestly, we don't want to eat a full three course meal and second helpings - you know how important healthy eating is, and neither of us have the appetites we did as teens any more We're happy to give you money to pay for our own meals so you don't feel that we are wasting your money by not eating the full meal, but please don't try to make us overeat - it's so uncomfortable"

[edited because I do know the difference between hear and here]
« Last Edit: January 19, 2014, 03:24:27 PM by Margo »

shhh its me

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Re: What we SHOULD eat vs. What we should EAT.
« Reply #5 on: January 19, 2014, 12:35:18 PM »
  IF I remember correctly this MIL is generous and financially well off? So its not the money but the principle,right?   She doesn't want to pay $20 for soup & salad while that same $20 could pay for soup salad and 2 steaks, she feels like she is losing 2 steaks. If she won the $150 million lottery she's still not want to lose 2 steaks, right?  It's a quirk /pet peeve of hers  just order what you want and try to ignore the kvetching.  Maybe try to encourage going to the community hall on the first and last night of a visit(that way she can be seen having visitors and can tell everyone what a lovely restaurant you and DH took he to on the other night/s) and out to eat the rest of the time.

IF you feel you must to pay her back , I'd suggest a consumable gift...fruit of the month to be delivered  when you're not visiting. A relaxing day at (whatever she likes , a play , spa , museum etc) movie tickets , a gift certificate to a car service (if she has trouble driving )

Drunken Housewife

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Re: What we SHOULD eat vs. What we should EAT.
« Reply #6 on: January 19, 2014, 01:21:30 PM »
You probably can't box up your leftovers, right?  Buffets usually don't allow that (for sensible reasons). 

I would just keep saying things to her like, "Oh, I'm stuffed, couldn't eat another bite -- the food here is so good and filling.  You definitely get your money's worth!"  Try to make it sound like you got a great, big, huge meal and it was a treat. 
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gramma dishes

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Re: What we SHOULD eat vs. What we should EAT.
« Reply #7 on: January 19, 2014, 01:25:33 PM »
I think it's frankly an odd setup!   ???

I don't actually blame your MIL.  Since she's being charged the exact same amount for your meals regardless of which menu you order from, I can see how she feels that ordering from the "lesser" menu would seem to be wasting money.

Beyond that though, you've already gotten good advice for how to handle it from other posters.  I think if you're dining there once, then it would be nice of you to acquiesce to her request that you order from the alternate menu whether you're able to finish the food or not.

If you eat a few meals there, then the others could be the buffet and you can assure your MIL that you will eat lots and lots and lots of food so that she gets her $20 worth!   :)


CrazyDaffodilLady

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Re: What we SHOULD eat vs. What we should EAT.
« Reply #8 on: January 19, 2014, 02:10:12 PM »
Are you sure it's $20, or do you just have MIL's word for that?  At my father's place, a guest eats for $3!

Since money is not an issue, the problem is that you don't want to overeat.  The solution is not to make MIL stop pushing food on you -- because that's unlikely to happen.  I've never won an argument with a elderly person.  Many of them (certainly my relatives) are set in their ways and very stubborn.

My recommendation is that you smile smile smile and have a repeated phrase such as "I have exactly what I want.  What a wonderful meal."

I bet MIL has always urged her guests to overeat, even when she was feeding guests in her home.
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Thipu1

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Re: What we SHOULD eat vs. What we should EAT.
« Reply #9 on: January 19, 2014, 02:38:40 PM »
Thanks for the good advice.  Here are some of the issues.

MIL is financially secure.  Both Mr. Thipu and his BIL monitor MIL's finances (with her knowledge and permission) to make sure she's in good shape.

MIL has always been a food pusher.  In the family, that's a given.

She has a full kitchen in her apartment that people we know would die to have.  While we wouldn't make a special trip to the buffet or order a second entree with the intention of taking it back, we could certainly have the food left on our plates packed to go. 

Where MIL lives is subtle.  She's in the 'independent living' area.  Residents can come and go as they please and have their own furniture in their own apartments.  Breakfasts and lunches can be bought at an on-site cafe or people can prepare what they want to eat in their apartments.  However, since dinners are included in the monthly payment, the dinners are a way of making sure that residents are alive and well.  When we arrive at the dining room, the Maitre'D swipes MILs card and she tells him that she has two guests.

  It's perfectly fine for a resident to skip dinner or go out but the front desk should be advised that this will happen.  If no notification is given it's likely that someone will visit the apartment to make sure that the resident is neither ill nor injured. 

Both guests and residents have equal access to all available food and activities at the place.





SPuck

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Re: What we SHOULD eat vs. What we should EAT.
« Reply #10 on: January 19, 2014, 02:42:16 PM »
MIL wants to get her money's worth. Although we're quite happy with the buffet she almost demands
that we order double portions from the alternate menu and seems a bit put out when we don't. 

...

This time, we've thought about just leaving the money in a prominent place in her apartment when we leave.       

I would let her pay (it just isn't worth arguing over) but if she wants to have those "put out" feelings those are hers to have.

m2kbug

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Re: What we SHOULD eat vs. What we should EAT.
« Reply #11 on: January 19, 2014, 02:50:30 PM »
I'm thinking it's an odd payment schedule as well.  I can see that a $20 salad would be a bit upsetting.  I like the suggestion of eating at the residence maybe on the first and last night and taking her out someplace else the rest of the time.  Otherwise, order what you would like to order and just expand on what a lovely meal and I'm stuffed and eat what you can and try to direct the conversation elsewhere.  I'm not sure that you'll be able to reimburse her in any way.  I would feel a little guilty if I couldn't take leftovers home, so I would probably want to avoid such an expensive place to eat if possible, but if she's insistent, just go with the flow. 

Tea Drinker

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Re: What we SHOULD eat vs. What we should EAT.
« Reply #12 on: January 19, 2014, 02:56:56 PM »
From the viewpoint of your MIL wanting to get her money's worth, would it work to order something like the steak or scampi (assuming you like one of the fancier entrees) and tell your MIL that yes, the food is very nice, but you don't have the appetite you used to, so you're going to have it boxed and eat the rest for breakfast or lunch the next day? That is, make that the plan: have them give you a nice serving of meat or fish, add vegetables from the salad bar, and if she says something about getting her money's worth, point out that she's getting two meals for each of you.

Maybe also emphasize the variety of different things you're eating--if she's a food pusher, "I gave Thipu steak and pasta and fruit salad and steamed vegetables and soup" would satisfy her even though it was a small spoonful of the pasta, and you only ate 1/3 of the steak, and a small portion of broccoli.
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Calypso

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Re: What we SHOULD eat vs. What we should EAT.
« Reply #13 on: January 19, 2014, 03:53:05 PM »
Having worked many years ago in institutional kitchens, the set up doesn't sound that odd to me. In a for-profit restaurant, it makes good sense to cost out every dish separately and keep track of inventory precisely, but for a kitchen in this kind of situation, where you have a set budget and aren't making a profit on the food, it's unnecessary accounting. Charging each meal as a single unit, regardless of what's eaten, is easier.

I like the ideas PPs have given, especially reminding her of her own advice "I've filled up on the delicious veggies as you suggested, MIL, so I really only have room for about half this steak, but thank you for offering to get me some more."

And, really, if she's financially well off (and what a blessing that is, eh?), the comments about not getting her money's worth are a harmless quirk, and I wouldn't pay too much attention to them. "Hey, you can get another helping of lamb chops. I paid for it, you should eat it." "Thanks, MIL, I'm good --- and I so enjoy just getting to spend the time with you." "Grumble grumble grumble." "Well, after all, MIL, I'm pretty much done growing (chuckle chuckle).... so I shouldn't really eat as much as a teenager, should I?"

But if she keeps making comments about it, what the heck. It's not worth getting into a sweat over, I think.

TootsNYC

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Re: What we SHOULD eat vs. What we should EAT.
« Reply #14 on: January 19, 2014, 08:56:22 PM »
MIL wants to get her money's worth. Although we're quite happy with the buffet she almost demands
that we order double portions from the alternate menu and seems a bit put out when we don't. 

...

This time, we've thought about just leaving the money in a prominent place in her apartment when we leave.       

I would let her pay (it just isn't worth arguing over) but if she wants to have those "put out" feelings those are hers to have.


This is so wise. Let her have her feelings. Don't take on any responsibility for eliminating those feelings for her.

Say, "Oh, I'm so stuffed--I find I simply can't eat that much anymore. And I like to stay healthy." And then bean dip.
   Also, answer this type of comment one time--then stop responding to it at all--act as though she didn't say anything. Or say, "Yes, you said that earlier, too," bcs now the goal is to get her to just drop the topic, or at least for your conversation to stop covering it.
    So, either you simply don't participate in -that- conversation, or you see if some negative reinforcement ("yes, you said already") will persuade her to leave it alone.

And stop caring about whether she is not happy about this issue. You've taken note of her unhappiness, evaluated the situation, and decided that her unhappiness is unfounded. Let her cope with it--but don't *you* worry about it.