Tips from an Angry Nanny

Hey Parents,
When you hire a babysitter or nanny, don't you realize that this just isn't always a "fun thing for us to do?"  This is our job.  We accept positions to get paid.  If you come home at close to the half hour, you need to pay us FOR the half hour.  For instance, the other night, the parents came home at 10:25.  I was paid until 10.  WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?!  Especially after they asked me what my rate was!  Sure, it's my fault that I didn't say anything, but if I ever babysit for them again, I will make sure I'm given the correct amount.  Also, Parents, if you ask a babysitter to come at dinner time, be prepared to leave $20 for your babysitter to order dinner.  Or make something for us. 5pm- 9pm is dinner time.  The same night that I got stiffed on my pay, the mom said earlier, "did you eat dinner in between jobs?"  I said "no, I didn't get a chance to."  Her response was "well, we don't have anything, but feel free to eat what you find."  Really, lady?  In between your child crying, I'll try to find a slab of cheese and a piece of bread.  Leaving money for dinner goes a long way


Moniker said...

So what OP is saying is that if I have you over from 5 to 9 to watch my baby, that I should cook you dinner?

I'll leave 20 for dinner if I expect you to order dinner for my kids. If I have you order dinner for my kids, you are welcome to share. If my kids is 1, you should eat before you come or bring your own dinner.

Kristen said...

^ This.

Great Nanny said...

I agree with OP. This mother obviously knows OP's schedule and knows that she came right from a previous job...nanny or not. I think it is extremely rude what the mom said. I guess it also depends on where in the country. I know my area it is expected to leave $ for dinner, and if parents don't, I will find something around the house.

Nanny E said...

Leave you $20? Are you serious? That's a lot of dinner! Yeah, it sucks when a family doesn't offer any food or anything, but I always prepare for that by having an early dinner, just in case they don't have any thing for me to snack on. But I would never expect someone to leave me that much money for one person-that seems like way too much.

OP Here said...

I didn't say spend the whole $20. A 20 dollar bill for dinner and tip and leave what ever is left. I think in 15 years of babysitting/nannying, I've only once spent a whole $20 on my dinner. It's not asking much. You want me to be there at dinner time, I expect leftovers or money for dinner. It's a nice gesture. Sometimes I'll eat before or bring my own dinner, and if I do, I won't use the money. It's not like I'm asking to pay extra for being there at dinner time and it's my choice what I do. I'm just saying it's a nice gesture to leave money...whether it be $10, $15, $20, or $50.

Adult said...

I'll leave you $100 because I don't want you to be slighted. could learn to get something through a drive-through like the rest of us do when we have two jobs back to back like that.

The parents don't need to cook for a baby. They don't need to cook for themselves because they are probably going out to dinner. They don't need to cook for you because YOU'RE AN ADULT...

OP Here said...

So then parents should have food in the house for me to cook myself something for dinner at dinner time! You mean to tell me that you wouldn't be offended at what this mother said to me? She asked me if I ate dinner and then proceded to say "we have nothing, so find some crumbs to eat."

MissWI said... sound one goes to work at an office expecting food or money for it...heads up ITS YOUR JOB! How unprofessional of you to EXPECT food or money for it.
If you know how your day is going to go...prepare for it...bring a lunch or something...its called accountability and everyone else in the working world has a grasp on it so why can't nannies?
My MB and DB often have food in the house but when the don't I don't throw a fit or act unhappy at all..I put on my big girl pants and come prepared.
They are paying you to watch their children not veg out.

AMom said...

Here in nYC, it is common to leave food or money for a babysitter sitting at those times. She is supposed to be at your house at 5? Most likely she has to leave wherever she is about 4, 4:15 to get to your place on time?

So, she should be eating dinner at, what? 3 in the afternoon according to people here? Come on! Unless she is 85 years old, that isn't going to cut it. No one said to cook for her, and maybe $20 is extreme, but, have dinner food around for the sitter.

Lilly said...

AMom-amen!! In THIS line of work it is a kind gesture especially when the sitter/nanny is possibly working during dinner time. In all my years I worked as a nanny most families would either leave me money to order dinner or have stuff on hand for me to make something for myself but I also who worked for families that just didn't give a damn that I would sit in their home for 7+ hours not able to leave to grab something starving. Now that I am a mother myself to a 9 month old, I always prepare a meal for my child, bathe them before the sitter arrives, & either prepare something for the sitter or leave money for delivery. I do it because as a former nanny myself I know what it is like to be running between jobs NOT having time to grab something to eat on the way & sitting there starving all night. Plus I do all that too so it's less the sitter needs to do & can do what she is there to do, spend time & play with the baby not play the role of Hazel or Personal Chef.

Cry me a river said...

OP, why don't you stop at a convenience store and pick up some things...perhaps a sandwhich, a couple drinks, some snacks.

I think your employer was trying to hint at the fact that they are not responsible for your dinner. They said they have nothing, but you can look around. There had to be a can of soup or something. You could have even ordered food with...wait for it...YOUR OWN MONEY.

Although it is awesome when parents provide food for their nannies, it should never be expected. Like another poster said, people in other professions don't expect all of their meals to be provided.

I have had times where I had parents leave me money in case I wanted to order in. I have also had parents make me up a plate from their dinner. I appreciated anything like that. What I didn't do was throw a hissy-fit when I had to fend for myself.

If anything, this should teach you to be more self sufficient. Depending on others for dinner just because you will be there around dinner is going too far...and your expectations are obnoxious and childish.

RBTC said...

i almost never disagree with an OP and of course you should be paid for the time you are there - that was very wrong

but as for feeling entitled to a meal - from anyone other than your mom lol - it's really not a practical view

in my job working with kids - BOY! is it great to get homecooked meals from some of the moms! yum! - but - expecting it?

my company sometimes will put it in the verbal contract - if we are working at a chick-fil-a for 3 hours during dinner and have to smell the great food we light heartedly say - "hey! feed me ! "

i will always have a snack/soda for anyone working in my home and frequently make simple sandwhiches for contractors working with me in the field - it's the right thing to do, but it's not an entitlement

so - really you need to politely tell anyone you work for your expectations - you expect a meal - boom!

with much respect - your OP seems to be pretty unhappy/burned out - don't ever show that attitude to the kids or the mb ! lol

Nay The Nanny said...

Yikes, I am going to have to agree with many of the PPs here...I understand where you are coming from OP but it really is a bit presumptuous of you to expect dinner to be provided. It is a nice gesture, absolutely. It is a bit disappointing if they leave nothing and have nothing whatsoever in the home, sure. Most if not all the families I have ever worked for considered that I may need to eat at some point (though I usually do bring something.) But to be so angry about it is a bit inappropriate and it does come off as a bit greedy. You are getting paid to be there, it isn't as though you are doing them a favor and working for free. Still, I hate to attack you and you are free to feel the way you do.

Snow said...

I guess the food thing is regional.

Where I live and work, food is always offered not just at late hour jobs, it's very close to being offensive if you as the nanny don't take a little to eat.

The time I work my regular job and then do babysitting and decide to eat on my way I've had to convince the people I was sitting for that I ate. Haha!

I guess it is just regional. Maybe, OP comes from something similar or the family she now works for is from a different culture.

Anyway Op, if you decide to work for them again I would try to bring an extra sandwich in your lunch sack in the morning and carry it with you to the evening job and eat, or tell them you are coming for work and see if you can start babysitting minutes later so you can get a bite to eat.

As for the money yes they should have paid, and you should have asked for it. I used to be shy about asking for pay. When the ask for your rate say the amount and what they owe you for the evening most won't argue with you, and if they do no more sitting for them.

♥ Amy Darling ♥ said...

OP while I agree that you should be compensated for the extra half hour you worked, I do not agree that it is the responsibility of your family to either provide you w/dinner or provide you w/money to buy dinner.
It would be a nice gesture on the part of your bosses, however it is not mandated. Many jobs do not provide meals.

Jenya Alexandrovna said...

Any other job you are expected to bring your own meal or pay for one with your own money.
It's a lovely gesture if the parents leave some money for you to order food with, but it shouldn't be expected.

Looplou said...

If the child is an infant, there is A LOT of downtime babysitting at night. Plenty of time to "find a slab of cheese and piece of bread. If the child is a toddler, there is definitely food in the house. You really have no excuse for not planning your own meal to feed yourself. that is just silly to expect your nourishment to come from some place other than your own groceries.

xfileluv said...

I am in Ohio and if there are kids(s) that are a bit older, I would definitely leave $$ for them to order a pizza. If the kid(s) are younger, I would at least get some chips & dip, chips & salsa, microwave popcorn, etc., for the sitter to munch on. That seems to be the norm among my friends. Is it expected? No. But that is how my folks always handled sitters and it seems to be the trend with people I know.

RaleighWorld said...

Ok I've done the -leave my nanny job at 5 to go to a babysitting gig at 5:30 or 6pm- I never have the attitude that you do about it. I've held a screaming teething baby all night, tried to console a toddler arching his back for his mommy, and have told a preteen girl to go to bed over and over. I'm 24 and always can honestly say that I look forward to going to each gig and never at the end of the night do I think "at least I got paid". The money is nice (I have bills and things I need to get) but in this line of work there are more things to worry about at that moment like the occasion diaper rash or what I can do to make the child more comfortable and happy while mommy and daddy aren't home. Then when they get home I take the money put it in my back pocket right away and tell them how the children did. If you didn't want to do the gig and don't even care about the kids just the money..why don't you get another job in another line of work? They could have found someone that wouldn't complain and moan and think of their children first.

On to dinner, I ALWAYS get either the leftovers or they bought something like a frozen pizza or they call and order whatever I want before I get there. They always have something to eat and they have food just for me there cause my families just rocks like that. However I NEVER expect it and am grateful for whatever they offer!!! I also NEVER go to a gig absolutely starving with my own stomach digesting itself. If I know I'm babysitting that night after my job I'll grab a granola bar, cereal or some fruit and that can usually get me through the night. No, it's not a bacon cheeseburger but at least I'm more able to focus on the children.

OP Here said...

Well, I've had families ask me "what do you do for dinner" when I'm there AT dinner time. If I haven't eaten, I'll tell them that typically families leave me money to order. And if I have eaten, I'll tell them. I'm not saying that I EXPECT money. All I said that it's a nice gesture.

And no offense to anyone, but my post is a tip for parents. You want to put a smile on your babysitter or nannies face? Leave money or something to eat. I've been in this business far too long to know what makes me happy about some families and what doesn't. It's the little things, and I know that all of you know that. This isn't a 9-5 desk job. This is raising the future. Parents most prized possesions. I'm not ungrateful, I just don't care for what some stupid parents say. And what this mother said to me was STUPID.

Dr. Juris said...

I think you were cranky because you hadn't eaten. :)

Kat said...

I think too many people are attacking the OP. I get where she's coming from. I've never professionally nannied, but I did babysit throughout high school and college. I know what it's like to leave one job, to go to another. On a weekend especially, it's hard to get through a drive thru, get through traffic, and be at the job on time. I don't think it's too much to ask for families to either allow a few minutes leeway so babysitter/nanny can get something on the way, or provide either food or money for food.

BKmommy said...

Anytime we've had someone watch the kids while my husband and I go get dinner, we have ALWAYS left food for our sitter or money to order food with a stack of menus from local places to order from. Granted, this is in NY and I think its sort of standard practice here.

Zarine said...

Yes, it would be a nice gesture for parents to provide money for dinner, but on the other hand be an adult - If you know you can't seem to function without dinner for 4 hours (or more) then it's your fault for not picking up something, ordering delivery or taking back to back jobs.

MissMannah said...

Yes, the parents giving the nanny dinner is a nice perk, but it is in no way a requirement for the job. Also, I'm glad you mentioned "It's my fault for not saying anything." How can you complain if you didn't speak up for yourself in the first place?

OP Here said...

I'm glad to see that the said New Yorkers on here agree with me, because I do live in NYC. So, yes, it's standard to get money for dinner or some type of food upon arriving at dinner time. Kudos NY'ers!

That being said, as I have stated, this thread was simply TIPS for parents.

The whole paying for the half hour...heck, even if you come home 15-20 minutes after the hour, pay for the half hour. Yes, it was my fault on this one. I get it. I typically give families two chances...after the 2nd time, I say something and won't agree to babysit for them again. So, really, if you come home at 15 after the hour, we would appreciate the whole half hour, not quarter hour crap that I've dealt with.

nycmom said...

I lived in NYC (various Manhattan locations on UES to Murray Hill) for ten years and employed two long term nannies and multiple pt nannies and occasional sitters.

Of course, an employer should always pay a sitter or nanny for every hour or part of an hour and round up to the nearest 1/4 to 1/2 hour. That is a given imo and transcends location.

However, I do not think it is standard to provide separate money for food for a date night sitter. I do think it is standard to have an open fridge policy for a full-time nanny. I also think it is common to invite an occasional evening sitter to help herself to food in the home, or to eat with the kids/add her items if food is ordered out for dinner. Expecting a dinner stipend is the kind of thing you should make clear at hiring if it is essential for you as a sitter.

Alternatively, if you can order takeout with my money; you can order it with yours. Or you can pack yourself meals in the morning like people do at most jobs. Or you can choose not to accept jobs with a start time that does not allow you to get dinner prior to starting work if you know that is an issue for you. I find it odd to place the burden of feeding a grown person on the employer simply because the requested job hours overlap with a meal time. What about personal responsibility, both for providing for your basic needs and for not accepting jobs that surpass your abilities in terms of juggling the work/life balance. OP, you truly sound overwhelmed with the level of work you have accepted.

I do agree the mother's wording in your post was odd and clueless. However, I do not believe parents have an obligation to leave $20 for dinner for a sitter working evening hours. Honestly, I would rarely spend more than $8-10 on myself for a takeout dinner so the expectation feels extravagant. I do think it is a nice perk. I do think it is normal to offer your sitter to help herself to food in your home. But I do not think leaving $20 for food for an occasional evening sitter is in anyway a local norm or such a given that most sitters expect it.

In fact, in ten years I don't believe I had more than one sitter who had this belief to the level of "entitlement" and it did reflect in other areas of her work performance. This particular sitter ended up treating a prior family *very* poorly - basically abandoning their small child at school with no notice for pickup - after she began working with us (not for long!). So, while the offer to buy a sitter dinner is a nice extra, I do not think it is a Manhattan norm.

Rosemary Wells said...

The OP came here to blow off steam after being stiffed on the half hour. I think the point was that the Mother shouldn't have asked about dinner if she had nothing in the house, or wasn't going to provide. I think often with domestic work, it is about nuance, generosity. The comment above mine, with the buzz word entitlement, is particularly irksome. We all want to work for generous people. It is like the person who counts a tip to the penny vs. the one who goes a little bit beyond, just because. In the NYT this weekend there was a column in the motherlod section about paying your sitter/nanny for the hours they are contracted. The general tone in the comments was, yes. Do the right thing. Don't parse the relationship as if it is a legal document. Assholes do that, and again, we all know, no fun to work for those sorts of employers. Karma.

neva_eva_always said...

Um ... wth happened to parents being GRATEFUL to have someone come and chase after their brats? If you are too cheap to provide your sitter food your kids are probably brats because you won't provide them food either. $20 can be a bit much if you ONLY eat a small pizza with nothing, drink water and don't tip. Come on parents you get what you pay for. Don't expect good quality care if you refuse to feed your sitter. Expect neglected kids, grumpy sitterss and people who will double your rate next time you call or be busy that night. Leave stuff to make sandwiches, fruit, a soda or two. That alone won't cost you $20 if you're that much of a tightwad. Those who hoard their food and money raise the problem children of today because they falsly tell their brats what good wholesome people they are and they can walk all over others. No they'll be behind bars, waiting on people just like you did when you started out. Don't pay crap and expect diamonds.

Dr. Juris said...

I have a problem with this last rant. I'm sorry, but you're providing a service. Parents can be grateful to find someone who is wonderful to watch their kids, but overall, it is the sitter/nanny's JOB and parents should EXPECT them to do a good job.

Appreciation goes a long way, but ultimately, I fail to see how it is an employer's responsibility to feed their adult caregiver, who should be mature enough to feed themselves. And plenty of sitters don't require a 20 to pay for food, and don't expect it or provide crappy service because they weren't given cash to order out. I can already tell you and I wouldn't mesh, because you act like the parents should kiss your butt with appreciation for watching their "brats," as you so eloquently put it. You get paid...isn't that the currency required?

NannyinLA said...

Neva eva...that was waaaaaay overboard.

OP Here said...

As I mentioned way above, it's not the $20...I say leave $10, leave $5. I can do plenty with $5. Just don't ask me if I ate and proceed to tell me I have free reign over your empty fridge and cupboards.

And the more families I babysit for here in Manhattan, the more NORM it is to leave money for dinner. I'm watching a different child on Wednesday and the mother texted me saying "I will pay for your dinner." Ok, thank you. Finally, a family that APPRECIATES. nycmom, maybe you are ungrateful! Next time you have a babysitter think about how appreciated they would feel to have a dinner paid for. Leave $15 if you can't afford $20. Cover the meal and tip. It's not much when you probably pay your babysitter $15 or more an hour anyway.

And just because the cheap mom that I worked for didn't leave money, doesn't mean I didn't care for her child as well as a family that does leave money. I just don't care for the parents as much.

nycmom said...


The more you post, the less experienced you sound. You truly don't sound like a professional nanny and you are clearly not someone I would employ as our needs and expectations do not mesh -- which is fine. Not everyone is a match. I approach my caregivers as professionals and pay them as such. I expect professional behavior in return. I don't nickle and dime them over wages, allow job creep or expect anything beyond our work agreement. In return, I expect not to be nickle and dimed over something like dinner if we did not agree on that being included at hiring. I view my nanny and sitters as professional hourly employees I pay a fair wage. Not as service people who need tips to get up to a fair wage.

I do keep a full kitchen and welcome anyone working in my home to help themselves. I certainly do not think that is a requirement for an occasional sitter, though I do think it is part of what I always want to offer a full-time nanny.

Clearly it is not the norm to leave cash for dinner if you are encountering the variability that prompted your rant. You keep returning to repeatedly say it is not the $20 and presenting various alternative solutions that would have been acceptable to you. However, you then *always* return to the basic fact that you DO think families absolutely SHOULD leave you money for dinner. So, don't parse words. You DO feel ENTITLED to dinner as a standard perk of working an evening babysitting job. You are uncomfortable just owning that that is something important to you in a babysitting job. I'm not sure why you feel uncomfortable and defensive since it's your right to define what you are seeking in a job. Just as it is an employer's right to define what they are seeking in an employee.

I clearly stated I think the mom in your OP was "odd and clueless" in asking you about dinner without having food on hand. Since you continue to feel quite offended by my thoughts despite that acknowledgement, I can only conclude that it IS the bottomline that you EXPECT cash for dinner. That alone should make you realize you need to address this issue at hiring since it is clearly paramount for you.

That's okay. I always say parents can advertise any position they choose, as long as they stick to the job description/salary and don't allow job creep. I also strongly advocate for sitters like yourself and professional nannies to only take jobs that meet their needs.

I pay far more than $15/hour currently and when I left NYC a year ago. I do not define my level of appreciation of my caregivers by whether I leave them cash for dinner. Thankfully, neither do the people I hire. It is sad that you believe a parent who has different views on how to handle dinner for a babysitter is "ungrateful." Gosh, this issue is really, really important to you and I believe you need to make that crystal clear before accepting any future jobs so you aren't continually left with the feeling that you are not appreciated.

Zarine said...

OP, you sound very ungrateful and entitled. Not leaving money for dinner or making you dinner does not equate to bad parents to work for. Like I said in my previous poist, be an are one, right??

Zarine said...

OP, you sound very ungrateful and entitled. Not leaving money for dinner or making you dinner does not equate to bad parents to work for. Like I said in my previous poist, be an are one, right??

Kat said...

OP NYCMom thinks she knows it all. She's always on here spewing her crap about how wonderful she is though she's said herself that her kids are brats. I feel sorry for her Nanny.

OP Here said...

Nycmom, clearly there's a reason you left NYC and that's because you simply don't fit. I've worked for families of CEO's and families of regular joe's. And I never once said that I expect money for dinner. Not once. In all my posts, I stated that it's a nice gesture to leave money....a tip for you. So every family that gives me money for dinner, it's not because I demand it(which I never have), it's because they care. So my rant was a TIP THAT PARENTS SHOULD DO.

I view the families that I work for as "family." We keep it professional, but we also do kind things for each other. This is to you nycmom, you are probably a jerk to work for and you most likely pay your nanny over $15 to keep them happy. You know nothing about the NYC Nanny culture and that's why you left!

And FYI- parents who only look at your nanny as "professional" are usually the ones who can't keep a nanny for more than a year at most! This is not a desk job. You keep the contract professional, but if you aren't treated well (holiday bonus, birthday acknowledgement, just asking how YOU are doing), then I know what will happen. The parents will be SOL. This is raising the future...not sitting at a desk where you don't see your boss everyday. You work one on one and if the nanny isn't treated as a member of the family, poof. She's gone.

huh? said...

Amen and Amen @ Moniker.
If you are expecting to be working during dinner time, you should pack a sandwich unless it's someone you regularly work for, and you know they PLAN on feeding you.
If you were working an office job, would you expect them to buy your lunch on your lunch break????

BKmommy said...

I think the comparison to a nanny and an administrator is a null point. The fact is that a nanny is fulfilling a specialized role that involves caring for a vulnerable little human. I sympathize greatly with OP because I do think its ridiculous for a parent to offer their child's caregiver scraps to eat. Again, I think this is mostly a regional thing, since everyone I know here does leave food or cash for their nanny/babysitter. Heck, the few times I babysat way back when, all the families would leave me food or money to get food. While not expected, I think it goes a long way at establishing a sense of appreciation in both the parents and the nanny.

Personally, I get very tired and irritable when I am hungry. I like to assume others feel the same way when they are hungry. So, as a gesture I go the extra step to make sure the person caring for my children has their basic needs met so that they can do the best job possible at taking care of my kids. Its certainly not a requirement, but for me it makes me feel better knowing that the person caring for my children has enough energy and stamina to keep up. From a cultural perspective, this is absolutely expected in certain situations. I come from a culture that feeds any and everyone coming into my home, doesn't matter how short your visit is. On the other hand, there are cultures where this is not the norm. So in a big city like NY, you have to take all of that into consideration.

nycmom said...


This will be my last direct reply to you. I know it is important for some people to have the last word, so I want you to know you can have that in your next reply.

Your rant is now bordering on ridiculous by extrapolating that a relocation = inability to "fit in" in one's prior living locatino or, even better, that a family's motivation to leave NYC would be because they "know nothing about NYC nanny culture." This is really grasping at straws! Suffice to say, our reasons for relocation had zero to do with our ability to understand NYC nanny culture.

Also, to correct your other inaccurate assumptions -- I have had two long-term nannies of approximately five years each. I have no trouble maintaing long-term employment with my nannies. I do give a generous Christmas bonus, birthday bonus, standard vacation/sick/personal/holidays.

I simply disagree with you about whether leaving money for dinner for an occasional weekend sitter is standard or a reflection of a parents' appreciation of or relationship with their caregivers. Feel free to draw whatever other interesting and far-fetched conclusions from that information that helps you feel at peace with yourself.

You seem to be under the impression that treating one's nanny/employee as a professional is somehow insulting. That is a shame because I think you are really missing out on a level of respect and a quality of relationship that nannies deserve. Employers can view their nannies as a professional, treat them as such, and ALSO like them, respect them, and be generous. The two are not inconsistent or contradictory. If anything, you are much more likely to have a beneficial, positive employment situation with a family that views you as a well-liked professional, deserving of that level of interaction, than one who thinks you are a kid who they can appease by providing dinner without the other basic benefits.

Further, you SHOULD ask for dinner money. It is not a bad thing to know what is important to you and be assertive and honest about that. It's truly okay to have certain things that matter to you, standard or not, and present it during interviews. For example, I need our current nanny to run some errands like grocery shopping as she has 10 hours/week without any kids. I don't want my nanny to do heavy housekeeping, but I do need someone who can assume more household manager tasks. I recognize this is not standard for nanny jobs, nor is it something all nannies would want to do. Therefore, I advertise it clearly and make that part of the job explicit to interviewees so we can find a situation that works for both parties.

I wish you good luck finding future jobs that meet your needs.

RBTC said...

if i quit my day job - i will go apply with nycmom - her posts are very well thought out and always reasonable - her education shines through as she cites examples and reasons through her points.

RBTC said...

nycmom always has very interesting and applicable comments based on experience - her education comes through in her writing style. She does usually give the point of view of a reaaonable yet no nonsense employer which is very needed on this site - i would work for her

talesfromthe(nanny)hood said...

OP, and others who feel that babysitting for a family during mealtime means you are entitled to their food:

Go to Target
Buy a "lunchbox" and an icepack
Go to your local grocery store
Buy frozen meals, or sandwich fixings, or whatever you like to eat, as well as needed storage items for said food
Go home
Put away all your purchases (icepack goes in the freezer, FYI!)
When called to babysit during a meal time, retrieve purchases
Prepare healthy meal
Store in lunchbox with icepack
Carry with you to babysitting job
Eat as appropriate

See? Lots of steps, but not that complicated!

Muse said...

OP doesn't "expect" dinner, but she feels it's a "nice gesture" and suggests parents do it so their sitter feels appreciated.

But when they do NOT do it - despite it being a "nice gesture" and not mandatory - she rants about it?

Cognitive dissonance.

I somehow manage to show up to my OWN job over mealtimes without expecting my employer to provide meals or compensation for meals above and beyond my usual salary. If you can get to work at 9am without demanding breakfast, I'm pretty sure you can get to a job at 5pm without demanding dinner. Or you can pack a damned sandwich, like every other grownup in every other job.

I would offer the contents of my kitchen to a sitter, but I sure wouldn't feel obligated to make sure they were stocked just because a sitter was coming over and might want to eat my food. If I went to the grocery and there's food, hooray! Help yourself. If not, oh well, good thing you were a smart, proactive grownup who packed yourself a sandwich... right? ;)