BPN is now a 501(c)(3) non-profit and we are building a new website!
Read more, and see how you can help:
Meals for Nanny
Berkeley Parents Network >
Meals for Nanny
We just hired our first nanny. She will work two full days a
week. She will be feeding our child baby food. What is a
typical arrangement for her meals? Should we expect her to
bring her own lunch, or make something for herself using the
groceries we have on hand, or should we have something prepared
When we hired our nanny, I was also curious about this. I
asked my other mommy friends and they insisted that the nanny
bring her own lunch. They posed - does your work provide lunch
for you? But having someone in my home taking care of my
child, I felt downright rude not to offer something. So my
husband and I found a compromise. We told our nanny that she
was welcome to anything in our home to eat or drink. Our nanny
has been with us for 6 months and she has on occassion snacked
on a few things in our home, but in general she brings her own
lunch. I sometimes buy things I think she will like and offer
it to her but in general, I think she prefers her own food. I
hope this helps.
I asked this identical question about 2 yrs ago when we were
hiring our first nanny and uncertain about what to do with her
meals (before our child was eating solids). I'm assuming the
responses you got have not (yet?) been archived, so I'll try to
summarize. First, people do different things. Some provide
meals and/or let nannies have access to the fridge and pantry.
So be aware of the possibility that whatever you decide, your
nanny may have had a different experience at her last job.
Second, several people who told me that they encouraged their
nanny to make her own lunch using their groceries had regretted
doing so, because the nannies often ate whatever was most
available and convienent - which may well have been what the
family had planned for their own dinner that night. Not
surprisingly, nannies are busy, and may not have time to make
something from scratch unless you do some of the prep work for
them. Which just means more work for you.
Based on that info, we decided to encourage our nanny to
provide her own meals. We have had 2 nannies since then, and
the first tended to bring a sandwich or something from home,
while the second tended to take our child to a cafe, buy
something to eat in the park, or whatever. Both situations
worked out just fine and I'm glad we made that choice. Like
you, I was anxious about issues like having to buy extra
groceries for the nanny, remembering to prepare something for
her that she would like, designating which foods were OK for
her to use for her lunch and which were not ... it all seemed
My suggestion is that whichever you decide, do it up front
along with all the other guidelines for her new position - it
will be so much easier than trying to change things later.
Recently in your shoes
I encourage you to talk to your nanny and see what she expects.
We consider our nanny's meals to be part and parcel of spending
the day wtihh our children. I don't buy special foods for her
but have learned what she likes to eat and makes sure that we
have food in the house when she is working. If there is a
special food that we're saving, I just let her know.
I've been a nanny for a few years now.
Some families have let me eat their food.
Some families have had me bring in my own food.
So the question for you is: What are you comfortable with?
Nanny in the know
we have a nanny full time. she prefers to bring her own meals although our
refridgerator and cupboards are always open to her. she will sometimes make eggs
or have a bagel but usually she brings her own meals. i don't think it's expected
you to provide that but it's nice if you offered.
I'm getting ready to hire a live-out nanny for the first time
and am wondering what is expected or typical in terms of
providing for her meals. The nanny will be working 3 full days
for us per week, and obviously will need to eat during that
time. My child is not eating solids yet, so she wouldn't be
doing any meal prep for anyone but herself. Should we be
providing a specific lunch for her? Let her roam the fridge (in
which case we would need to keep up with grocery-shopping)? Or
should we ask her to bring a sack lunch? For our current top
candidate, this is her first nanny position in the U.S., so I
don't think she knows the norms, either. (And since she is new
to this country, I'm not sure she would even like our food.)
Suggestions on food-related arrangements that have worked for
others would be greatly appreciated.
We found this an unexpected topic too, and resolved it by
offering our nanny fruits and snacks that were in a certain
area of the counter, any juice/water/tea etc., and I always had
a stack of frozen entrees that she could pick from.
Most days she would heat & eat one during a break in her day,
rarely did she eat a second one later in the day. I figured the
~$1 each is worth having her well-fed, and over time I learned
which her favorites were and bought those. She did bring her
own sodas though as we don't buy sodas for our own household.
Since our nannyshare alternated between our house and the other
family's, I always felt a bit at a disadvantage though - they
had a stay-at-home grandma who would cook gourmet meals and
share them with our nanny. But the solution at our house also
seemed to be okay with the nanny.
Interesting to hear so many say meals are non-standard
When we had a nanny during the morning and afternoon she brought
her own lunch, which I think is totally reasonable. Now that we
have a new nanny with different hours, it has created a similar
schedule to yours. Our nanny picks up our son from school and
then stays to help until 7pm each night. Because I think it's
unreasonable to expect her to bring her own dinner, she eat with
us every night and it works out fine. I know our original nanny
would never dream of eating w/us so it depends on her
personality and your relationship. If I were you I'd tell her
that she should bring her own lunch/snacks and then welcome her
to eat dinner w/ you. I highly recommend making your decision
clear right from the get-go. Don't be afraid to ask for what
feels comfortable to you. If you don't, you'll end up feeing
weird and resentful - two feelings that shouldn't be part of a
good nanny/parent relationship.
Does your job provide lunch?
Most jobs do not--people bring their own lunches (or go out, if
it is possible). It seems reasonable that a nanny would do the
same. Our nanny brings her own lunch (although we certainly
would be happy for her to help herself to our coffee, milk,
cookies etc., if she wanted).
Hi - We've had two nannies who don't live with us and who both worked for us full-
time (starting when our daughter was 9 months old). We always have given them
full run of the fridge/cupboard - it felt odd and disrespectful to us to not let
someone spending many hours a day in our home and caring for our daughter share
in our food. And it's not a big deal to buy a bit extra during your regular shopping
- asking if the nanny had a favorite item or two and buying it seems to have bought
a lot more goodwill than what it cost. I say treat your nanny as kindly as you can -
she is the person alone with your child many hours per week.
Share the Food
Our live-out nanny also works for us 3 days a week. When she
started, my husband casually told her she was free to eat/drink
whatever was in the fridge. She started out bringing her own
lunch but lately she has been eating our food. I think that if
I could do it all over again, I would give more specific
guidelines about this -- sometimes I will find food I had
purchased to eat myself has disappeared, and I feel awkward
bringing it up. It's a little strange to not know what will be
missing from the freezer/fridge until you're looking for it and
it's not there. She seems to prefer eating the pre-packaged
foods like frozen dinners, frozen pizzas, mac and cheese, canned
soups and the like. Good luck with your new nanny. By the way,
I don't think it's the norm to provide meals for your nanny.
(Even though I work a full day at the office and do get a lunch
break, my employer don't provide meals for me!)
We made the mistake of ''offering'' anything in our kitchen to
our nanny to eat. She now eats breakfast, lunch, and dinner at
our place--a late breakfast after she arrives and an early
dinner before she leaves. What is most frustrating, perhaps, is
that she often eats what I was planning on serving for dinner,
so I open the drawer/pot only to find that--voila--only enough
for a single serving, but not for the entire family! We love
her dearly and she is a wonderful nanny in every other way, but
in the future I will offer our nanny a portion of the fridge
tostore whatever she wants to eat. I might offer her any snack
foods, but tell her that it's too complicated in terms of
planning to have her eat main dishes.
Personally, I'd expect a nanny to bring her own lunch, but maybe
that's because I can barely get my own food together, much less
some other grownup's. And keep in mind that your toddler will
be eating before you know it, so you might as well start
thinking through how you'll do that too (e.g., even when I was
using a nanny, I still packed my daughter's lunch for the most
part). Every nanny will be different about their preferences
this page was last updated: May 20, 2006
The opinions and statements expressed on this website
are those of parents who subscribe to the
Berkeley Parents Network.
Disclaimer & Usage for
information about using content on this website.
Copyright © 1996-2014 Berkeley Parents Network