help with in-laws...favors and more favors...VENT!

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by mom23gsfg, Jan 3, 2008.

  1. mom23gsfg

    mom23gsfg New Member

    day in and day out.sad to say but if i knew exactly what i was getting into before my marraige ..i just dont think i would've went through with it!my mother in law and father in law live right below us(in another house)...and some how every day some one wants something...
    i think i have enough to deal with already what with my son in the hospital,another child that stays sick most days,and all the things that need to be done around here.and still they know these things and (not my father in law) but my mother in law calls evey day ....and then i have my hubby's bros and sises calling wanting to know if i can do this and that for their mom and dad...
    i really wouldnt mind it so much if it was once in a while but this is every day...and when they get the notion to go to town they go and do their fun things and when they get back go the phone calls again...will you go to the store for my bills for me?and sorry but with gas as expensive as it is now i cant afford to go to town every day!and no offer of helping with gas.
    dont get me wrong i love them dearly but i just cant do it any more.but when i try to explain ive got other things to do she gets mad.even when she knows we have plans with the kids or etc. it goes on and on.and only one sister in law will help them out when she can.
    also,we have to live on a strict income and she expects me to send her a plate evey day!i dont know how many meals i have missed because my hubby will tell her he's sending her something after she asks and theres not enough,and then he gets mad at me for telling him there wasnt enough for anyone else when he sees i havent eaten.
    uh oh theres the phone ringing again!... :grrr:
    yep guees who..."will you...?"and if i dont answer the phone will ring non stop until i answer and i cant unplug it because of my children.
    i have tried to talk with my hubby about this but he doesnt understand my delemia.he thinks its my obligation to do these things,however when she asks him to do something ..he curses under his breath and some how throws it into my lap to do..
    what im really afraid of is i have an eratic heartrate also bipolar disoder and i keep losing the feeling in my legs and having chest pains..i finally took the time for my self last year to go to the doctor and she said i was under too much stress and i was going to end up with a stroke or with much more stress my bipolar symptoms could get worse even with the medications because of too much stress,
    im only 31 but heart disease runs on both side of my family and my dad had his first stroke at the age of 29 and died at the age of 34
    also last year right after i went to the doctor i ended up in the icu unit ..they lost me twice on the way there ...i hadnt been sleeping and i had been forgetting to take my medications where i was under so much stress so when i went she also put me on sleeping tabs ...needless to say stupid me i got so run down i took one and ..nothing so i tried another ..nothing so i took another (this went on for about 2 hrs.)...then i got so sleepy i wasnt paying attention and accidently got them mixed up with my other medications and took 2 more ...and finally i fell asleep..and i woke up in a drugged dazed thinking i hadnt taken my medications and yep taking more of the sleeps instead of my regular medications
    luckily my mom called me and i told her i felt real funny and couldnt breathe and when they got here they said i had taken almost the whole bottle ....
    needless to say i never take any sleep aids any more and never take my medications when im worn out or just woken up because i cant remember anything when i first wake rambling so ill stop now
    but soon as i got home from the hospital i got another phone call... :grrr:
  2. Star*

    Star* call 911

    Dear "Patsy"

    You have permission to leave, be happy, find a life and enjoy your kids and your health.

    ps actually you don't need anyones permission - you'll just hang on, have a stroke, and then have to figure out how to do all of what you are doing now plus take care of your self as a stroke victim. Get a dictionary and look up the word MARRIAGE.
  3. hearts and roses

    hearts and roses Mind Reader

    Jessica, my Lord, woman, are you going to wait until you DO have a stroke before you finally say "Enough"??

    Stop doing - just stop. Go hang a large picture of your in-laws on your bathroom mirror and practice saying "No, I can't, call H". When they call, tell them, "Hang on, let me write this down for H" and when H gets home, hand it to him. Leave your house!!! Do not allow yourself to be available anymore.

    Your health is in danger and if/when something truly serious happens to you, who will be there for YOU? Who will be there for the kiddos?? NO ONE!! They will find someone else to do their bidding.

    Stop being their doormat and say NO. Tell H NO, Tell mother in law/father in law/sister in law/brother in law NO. You have to save yourself!!

    This website isn't perfect by any means, but it can help create better balance and at the very least some clarity for you. Check it out and make H take a look as well. You're supposed to be a team, a partnership. Nowhere does it say that the wife has to do everything and be a slave to H's entire family. What, are you the designated family mule?

    Sending you LOTS of strength - pull yourself up and out of this situation NOW before it kills you. Hugs~
  4. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful



    It might be a good investment to get a phone with caller ID. Then you'll know who's calling when the phone rings. Seriously.

    You are allowed to use the word NO at will. You are not required to take on the care of your inlaws simply because you married their son. As you pointed out yourself, they have other children. You are not required to care for your inlaws simply because you live upstairs from them. (I'd consider moving as quickly as possible)

    My mother in law is 94. I do her running for her, but it still has to fit around my schedule. I may adore her, but I still have my own family responsiblities to handle, as well as helping her. Money is tight around here, too. If I make a big meal, it's not unusual for me to make mother in law a plate and take it to her. (she lives only a couple of blocks from us) But that's only if there is enough to do so. I don't have the money to cook for mother in law everyday. I can't help it, it is a fact of life. mother in law wouldn't want me to do it if it wasn't extra anyway.

    If husband wants to volunteer, let him do the follow thru. Stay out of it.

    If you don't have the left over food to offer in laws a plate, don't give up YOUR food to do it. Just let them know there wasn't enough at that meal. If they don't understand, then it is THEIR problem. You've been honest. Same about the paying bills using your gas ect. Be Honest with them.

    Because as long as you keep letting them, they'll keep asking and expecting. You'll still be stressed to the max. And that stroke or heart attack will probably be in your near future. Then you'll have even more MAJOR problems to worry about.

    So, do yourself a favor. Just Say No! (it doesn't just work for drugs lol)

  5. Shari

    Shari IsItFridayYet?

    Agree with the others. Put your foot down and STOP.

    Be prepared, tho, it will upset them. Then they might not like you so much. But - NEWSFLASH - people who truly CARE about you DON'T USE you.

    I like JoG's idea...write if down for husband. If he gets mad, well...maybe he's got some things to evaluate himself...

    Good luck. My in-law's are like this. They don't call me, anymore, tho, except when they can't reach husband. However, they now take husband away so much thru the summer that I am stuck with the kids, the chores, the housework, and the yardwork for about 3 months while he does hay for his parents after work. This year, that will change, too.
  6. HereWeGoAgain

    HereWeGoAgain Grandpa

    Ditto to the other comments. Nothing you do for these people will be appreciated and nothing will ever be enough, so it is time to quit ruining your health for their sake.
  7. Star*

    Star* call 911


    I understand where you are coming from. I married the oldest dysfunctional son in a family of dysfunctional children - 6 to be exact. As the married wife and not the girlfriend of the oldest child - somehow it fell on me to do "things" for Mom. Wanna swap stories? I painted her house by myself, I detailed her car once a month, I took her food, gave her money, kept her son as straight as I could and I got sucked into the entire "FAMILY IS BLOOD" thing -

    I had said - once, to my x "Once I go - you're mom will be dead within 5 years because no one else takes care of her in this pack of wolves." It actually took 7 - but eventually they literally did kill her.

    So I do know what you are going through. I'd get calls to babysit so they could go drink with Mom, and if I refused OH HOLY NIGHT - Goodness no, I wasn't allowed to have a life - I was to keep an immaculate house, work 3 jobs, take care of my son, and take care of her. I was wound so tight - when I did finally leave my x for abuse and battery - I didn't sleep more than 3 hours a night for almost 4 years. I was on 80 mg. of valium a day and really haven't found out how to mellow out until just the last few years with difficult child being out of the house and DF helping me relax.

    Question: Are you doing this because you are being threatened by your hubby? Or do you do this because you are just trying to fit in and it rolled down a hill?

    We're listening -
  8. mom23gsfg

    mom23gsfg New Member

    no he doesnt threaten me if i dont do these things ...he just says things like you care more about your family than you do mine(which i see my mother usally once a week for a few min. when i take one of the kiddies to spend the night...oh when they find out when the kiddies are gone they think i should be able to do more.
    or he will blow up and act like he is suffering some injustice.
    and that i should spend more time with them..I SEE THEM EVERY DAY!...he rarely if ever bothers to even call her and when she does he goes around blowing air the whole time he is on the phone...but i am to say nothing...i have been trying lately to just take off when i go to town before anyone gets a chance to call me....and when i do go and do something for myself i am made to feel guilty for it.
    i mow my yard and theirs ,take off ours and their trash,grocery shopping ,bill paying ,cooking and laundry.i also take them places and i also help hubby with his every weekend (and sometimes every other weekend ) tree service he runs on the side from his regular job,i also do their yard and our clean up and window washing each year.
    and when he gets a day off im still running around while he justs sits and watches and if i ask for help hes "tired "or i get its my %@$## day off.what id like to know is when is my %^&$%^$day off?!
    what else do they want and this is hubby included ?blood?
  9. Star*

    Star* call 911

    Question -

    What do you want to do with your life?

    Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

    Would you be happier without all of this (him included?)

    Have you ever taken a minute to take yourself to counseling?
  10. busywend

    busywend Well-Known Member


    It is between your health and someone else doing things for mother in law and father in law. It is not as if their life will end because you stop doing things for them!

  11. Kathy813

    Kathy813 Well-Known Member Staff Member


    People can only take advantage of you if let them. I agree with the others that have told you to stop letting them use you this way.

    Yes, they will get mad but they will get over it.

    <div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body"> also,we have to live on a strict income and she expects me to send her a plate evey day!i dont know how many meals i have missed because my hubby will tell her he's sending her something after she asks and theres not enough,and then he gets mad at me for telling him there wasnt enough for anyone else when he sees i havent eaten.

    Next time this happens, send HIS plate to his mother and let him go hungry.

  12. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    He is using emotional blackmail on you, if he does not allow you to say no. By reacting the way he does, he is removing choice from you. It is HIS duty, HIS responsibility, not yours. If you choose to help them out, that is your choice.

    Sit and think (if you have time). They expect things to be done for them, and use manipulation and bullying to get what they want. They are very good at it, for them to have you prepared to even give up your own meal, just to keep the peace.
    And their son - where did he learn to treat you this way? And why the expectation that you will cater to his parents? He won't, his siblings won't. Not without a loud fuss, or some overt expression of frustration.

    And as for, "You care more about your own family than you do about mine" - the answer is, "Of course! My mother raised me, I value the time I spend with her because she doesn't just seem to see me as a useful tool, she loves me unconditionally. I don't expect you to love my mother more than yours - it is natural to love your parents."

    I agree with the others - STOP. But you need to communicate this. New Year can be a useful excuse - "This year, my resolution is to stop being a doormat. This is a good thing for everybody, because it will mean that when I choose to do something for you, or spend time with you, it will be because I WANT TO and not out of a misplaced sense of obligation, or because I was bullied into it."

    I have mother in law living in our pockets. I made the choice in this. She was living alone (previously, easy child had been living with her - they didn't always get on, mother in law can be difficult sometimes especially when she's stressed). husband was needed to go visit her every weekend, mostly to do repairs on her place. She would have a list of jobs to do. He doesn't have a lot of spare energy, and he was spending it all on her house (which was never going to be in good shape, it really needed to be knocked down and rebuilt) and not doing anything at our place. It also took almost three hours to drive there and back. And she s till wasn't happy - many things were wrong for her, in the area where she lived. By being so far away, we really weren't able to do the sort of long-term planning she needed.
    The alternative was to move her to a more suitable house NOT needing to be modified at great expense, and not requiring a long drive to get to. She (to her credit) worried that she would be a burden to us by moving close. I pointed out that living so far away was a bigger burden.

    Now - much of the time we keep apart. She has developed her own friends and her own interests in the area. She still needs things done for her and I CHOOSE to do things for her simply because it is neighbourly, and I make it clear it fits in with my plans.
    For example, she can no longer drive her car very far, so apart from the village shop, she cannot drive to do her shopping. I do. So when I'm planning a shopping trip, I call her and see if she wants to use the opportunity to do her shopping also. I collect her at her door, load her shopping cart into the car, and we discuss what we want to do and where we want to go. This is consensus. Is this a grocery trip? Or do you want to pay bills? Or visit the bank, or the doctor? We try to blend our plans. "While you're at the doctor, I'll go get my hair cut. Ring me if you want a lift (you might have to wait until the hairdresser is finished) or I will meet you in the supermarket."

    We work as a team. This also means that she sees if I am tired (just as I can spy on her, too, and 'dob her in' if she's not telling her kids that she's not well). And once I drop her off back home, help her get her shopping inside, I can go home and briefly rest knowing that THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO REASON for her to ring me up and ask me to go to the shop for her. Because I KNOW she has just been shopping.

    If I am going to the pharmacy for pills, I will ask her if there is anything she wants there. And now she is doing the same for me - she will drop in and ask, "Do you want anything while I'm down at the shop? Or do you want to come too?"

    This is balanced. It is mutual. It is the way families should be. What you are enduring - it's slavery, it's bullying, it is mean and unfair.

    If you choose to stop, now, you will need to be firm. You will also need to arm yourself against the bullying tactics. I really can't say whether my method would work for you - it could make them think the doormat is back, or it could reassure them that you do care, but you need respect and consideration.

    It will boil down to respect. Can they respect you, and respect your need for space? If so, then feel free to help them as long as it fits in with your plans. If not, then they all need a refresher course in what families truly should be for each other.

    The biggest concern is what is this teaching your children? Are you training them to be doormats, or bullies? Because no matter what you try to say, it is what they see you do that has most impact.

    Good luck. If necessary, get your doctor to order you to bed. Have a phone with you so you can order takeaway food if necessary, or maybe ring your inlaws and ask them to bring you up a meal, since you are supposed to be staying in bed.

    One last naughty thought - if they insist that you have to keep bringing them a plate of food, then develop weird ethnic tastes. Go totally vegan and fed them a bowl of lentils and yoghurt. Tell them it's what you must eat now, because stress has pushed your blood pressure so high.

  13. HereWeGoAgain

    HereWeGoAgain Grandpa

    <div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: Marguerite</div><div class="ubbcode-body">One last naughty thought - if they insist that you have to keep bringing them a plate of food, then develop weird ethnic tastes. Go totally vegan and fed them a bowl of lentils and yoghurt. Tell them it's what you must eat now, because stress has pushed your blood pressure so high.

    Marg </div></div>

    Or french-fried crickets and butter soup.
  14. Big Bad Kitty

    Big Bad Kitty lolcat

    mmmm butter soup. Get the recipe from Nvts.
  15. jbrain

    jbrain Member

    How about when husband says you care more about your family than his you answer with, "of course!" Why wouldn't you?

    You are a doormat for husband and his whole family--time to STOP!!!!!

  16. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    Hon, this is a hard routine to end. Your health, and the FUTURE OF YOUR CHILDREN is at stake. Do you really want to see your Kirsten graduate high school? Or your grandchildren from your other kids? IF yes, then make NO happen.

    Drop it all in hubby's lap. Write down every little thing you do in a day, every day for a week. Things for him, his parents, your family, you. Ask hubby if he wants to do all this AND his job?? Cause that is what will happen if you don't set some limits.

    Make sure you start cooking food that they will find yucky. It is a wonderful idea.

    Creative incompetence is something men have used for years. Children too. Whatever they want you to do, do it WRONG. Pay the bill, but not enough. Or pay the phone when they ask for the electric. They can pay these things by mail. People do it all the time. They can even pay by (gasp!) phone, thus needing NO ONE to drive in to town.

    Bring the wrong stuff from the store. You are getting the drill now.

    Act confused when they confront you. Say your blood pressure is high and you just are not understanding. If they yell, or get nasty, just LEAVE. Go home.

    There is a reason the other children and their families do not do things for them. It is NOT just YOU. Some of it is THEM.

    If your husband is upset with you act confused. Tell him you are doing your best, but since he can do better, you will send them to his phone. Or give him a list.

    Your health is a good reason for the vegan menu that they will not like. Enough vegan menus, they will quit asking. NOT that vegan food is yucky, but if you add enough strong spices, she will hate it.

    Do they have cell phones? call every single time they are out, and ask for something. Can they bring you a cola, you are out. Can they pick up cough medications for kiddo X, it is urgent. Enough calls, they will not want to talk to you.

    Caller ID is also a NECESSITY. If you do end up talking to them, practice this line until you are stronger: "Gotta go, have to vomit." It helps if you can make pretend vomit noises, or find them online and play them near the end of that statement.

    I am here for you. By the way, could you run to the store? (JUST KIDDING!!!!).

    Sending hugs and prayers!

  17. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    I'll bet the other kids all finally said No, too.

    I'll be honest, my husband wouldn't do squat for his Mom if I didn't make him. Not because he doesn't love her, but because he doesn't want to be bothered, and he's an "out of sight, out of mind" sort of person.

    So at least several times a month I make him do something for her. He has to make one of the grocery runs or something. Gives me a break. And for Pete's sake, while I LOVE my mother in law, she's HIS mother, not mine.

    I know the situation feels impossible. It can when you're the one in the middle of it and everyone is making demands on you.

    But truely, what's the worst that's gonna happen? In laws are gonna get mad? Well, hmmmm. Maybe you won't hear from them for a few weeks. lol

    Your mother in law reminds me of a neighbor I had once. She didn't even have the excuse of advanced age. She was in her late 20's, had been divorced twice, had 5 kids. The two youngest were preemie twins. From the moment we met it was "Can you help me by...."

    At first I didn't mind. The babies were only a few wks old. But after weeks and weeks, I finally realized she was actually doing very little to "help" herself. She didn't work, lived off child support. Lived in HUD apartment so no rent to pay or utilities. WIC and foodstamps covered food. Was home all day, yet couldn't manage to do the daily care of her own kids, run to the store, pay a bill.....

    Then I also found out she was using the other neighbors too. Wasn't 6 mos before no one was "able" to help her with a darn thing. :rofl:

    mother in law can only use you if you let her. If husband isn't happy about it, then tell him you have no problem with HIM helping his parents. Pobably won't be long til he agrees with you. :wink: :smirk:

  18. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Really, been there done that. Lisa, you reminded me. When easy child 2/difficult child 2 had just started high school (in Australia, it's earlier - she was 11) she was friends with a number of girls including one who wasn't terribly popular. Of course, my daughter WOULD look after the lame duck. This girl had an autistic little brother too, so they compared notes, did things together, etc. The mother was single, blonde and helpless. The autistic boy was simply left to do what he wanted, no attempt seemed to be made to work with him or direct him. I gave them some contact numbers for support groups, for camps for child carers, for as much help as I could get them. Then the REAL leaning on us began.

    At first it was, "Can my daughter sleep over?" Not a problem, especially since ours had slept over there once, when there was a school thing on. We returned the sleepovers many times over.

    Then I got a phone call - "Could you take my daughter for the weekend?"
    After many times saying yes, this time I had to say no, explaining that I was not well, husband had a sprained ankle, difficult child 3 was being a handful (he was only 4 at the time).
    "Can she visit for the day?" the mother asked. I relented, because the two girls on their own would be fine, but I needed to be home resting.
    "Sure," I said. "Put her on the boat and we'll collect her from our side."
    "Oh no," said the mother. "She won't travel on her own, she gets scared."
    "Then I'll send easy child 2/difficult child 2 over to meet her and bring her back."
    "But she won't travel without me, I'll bring her over," replied the mother.
    I again reminded her that we were in no condition to entertain visitors; as it was, I would be sending the girls to go on a bushwalk.
    "That's OK," said the mother. I'll go back on the return boat."

    Yeah, right. She came over, decided to stay, wanted me to take her places (like OUR place) and she had her profoundly autistic son with her.
    I took them for a walk on the beach, finishing at our church which was full of people relaxing, talking - a good place, generally. But her son was in a panic, he kept locking people out or locking them in. The church elders asked me to get them out of there, he was being disruptive. I said to the mother, "We can't stay here, you need to catch the next boat back. I will take you back to the wharf."
    She seemed totally oblivious to the havoc her son was causing and completely unable to get any hints (or even direct statements) I was making. It was still 45 minutes before the next boat, so I finally said, "We'll go back to my place for a short while then I will take you back to the boat."
    "Your place?" her eyes lit up. it was exactly what she had wanted all along - what I had originally said was not a good idea.
    I was seething - at myself as well as at her. At home she sat next to husband (whose foot was up on a stool) and chatted as if she hadn't a care in the world. Meanwhile her son was wandering through our house unchallenged, chewing every toy that difficult child 3 owned while difficult child 3 was getting frantic. Both boys were almost coming to blows. I couldn't do a thing with her son, he didn't know me well enough. I finally managed to distract him with an alphabet toy of difficult child 3's (who I'd sent to another room to keep them apart). Meanwhile, the mother continued to be oblivious. I observed the boy, allegedly non-verbal and severely autistic, put alphabet letters in sequence, in order, whispering the correct name of each one. I said, "Did you know he could do this?"
    "Do what?" she asked, then ignored me to talk to husband again.
    Time and again, I tried to load her and her kids into the car to drive them to the wharf. She kept seeming to be foggy about the need to hurry, and of course we kept missing the boat. Finally, when difficult child 3 had come back and was upset because this boy had chewed his latest Christmas present to pieces, and both boys were coming to blows, I said, "this is a bad time of day for us, always. I think the boys have had enough. It's time to go."
    "I was going to wait until the last boat," the wretched woman began.
    "The last boat IS this next one. If you miss it I'm not well enough to drive you home and husband's ankle is too sore. Our spare room is full and tomorrow is a school and work day."
    She had deliberately manipulated the situation to her own advantage purely to get respite at my expense. She was fit and healthy, I was not. Yet I was running around my house trying to protect it from her child.

    She did try this one again, a couple of months later. By this stage I had found out that she was also 'milking' the people at two local churches. She had clearly exhausted their patience. My daughter was barely tolerating hers because she was trying to manipulate people and using emotional blackmail (I wonder where she learned it from?).
    "Would you mind my daughter over the weekend? I've got my son into respite and I'm planning to go away for a couple of days."
    I had absolutely no guilt about saying NO.

    (since then - daughter got pregnant at age 13 the next year, son got taken away and given to a foster family, he began to read and learned to talk a little. Was doing very well. easy child 2/difficult child 2 occasionally bumps into them in the mall - if she doesn't get enough warning to avoid them - the pattern is continuing with the next generation).

    I've had it happen a couple of times since. But now I recognise the signs and extricate myself as soon as I can. Not always easy. If you must get sneaky, be 'helpless', change your patterns to make yourself more unavailable - then do so. These people are good at finding new victims. They'll try to cling to you, make you feel mean and nasty by using emotional blackmail, but stand your ground. Use the suggestions given. If you choose to become vegan or whatever, stick to it consistently at home for at least a few weeks, choose food you are prepared to eat yourself but are fairly sure they will not like. Our standby is pickled octopus with black olives and dry bread. I'll give you the recipe if you like. Or load everything with fresh chilli - seeds, pith and all. Or triple garlic. Find the cheapest ingredients, the poorest quality, and use it. get the cheapest stewing steak and pan-fry it for them. Overcook it so it is like shoe leather. Of course, you left it on the stove to "keep warm" and forgot it, because you are so busy! Get forgetful. And get your doctor on side. A doctor's advice on diet could give you some ideas.

    Some people are users, BIG time. They do not value what you do, they know, from past experience that eventually you will get sick of them and stop helping. As a result, they despise you for being the doormat even though it is THEM you are helping. They know they are using you and as a result they do not respect you.

    Eventually, you stop respecting yourself, and it just gets worse from there.

    Time to turn it around. Let your kids observe and get an object lesson in self-respect and affirmative action.

  19. ctmom05

    ctmom05 Member

    <span style='font-family: Courier New'>Jess...

    I read thru your post and saw what you've been doing for your in-laws. When I read that you've give them the food off your plate it made me just a little bit sad that anyone thinks this is ok.

    There were a couple of suggestions offered, to send food to the in-laws that they wouldn't like. If you have a limited income, that's not a good way to use it, and you're still expending time and energy on top of that.</span>
  20. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Only send food they wouldn't like, if it's food YOU like. And it shouldn't be needed to do this too often anyway. It's still a cheaper option than keeping on going like this.

    I suggested pickled octopus because we LOVE pickled octopus, and it's cheap. My other suggestion, to over-fry say, gravy beef and serve it up - what doesn't get eaten, YOU turn into a slow-cooked stew for yourself or your family.

    So no food need be wasted.

    Healthy, inexpensive options:

    1) red lentils (and most pulses). Leftovers can be put into salads, soups, stews. Chickpeas can be made into hommous, put into salads, I put them in my Moroccan bread recipe (very tasty). Refried beans with lots of chilli - these can be easily recycled by being added to ground beef recipes.

    2) extremely culturally different food such as seaweed (nori sheets, toasted and sprinkled over miso soup), tofu (plain, of course), sashimi. Don't use expensive tuna, you can use salmon fillets much more cheaply, just slice them raw. You can always cook it later, when they return it. I freeze the sashimi salmon and use it on a home-made seafood pizza. It cooks on the pizza.

    3) Avoid offal. People of their generation learned to live on offal.

    4) Any chance they suffered deprivation in Europe in WWII? If so, a single bowl of well-made home-made potato soup should sever ties permanently. Doesn't matter how meticulously you make it, how carefully you ensure only the finest ingredients - I don't know anybody who lived through a wartime European winter who can face potato soup without throwing a tantrum.

    4) Any food which is difficult physically for them to eat. Fresh, raw vegetables, for example, which can be a challenge to bite and chew if you have false teeth. Lots of garlic and onion (especially raw). These can always be cooked later - put the leftovers into a stir-fry, or a stew.

    Chris, I also can't abide waste. But to keep feeding her own meal to these leeches IS waste, in my opinion.