Thursday, October 2, 2014

How Should We Then Eat?

I often think of my daughters and daughter in law, when sharing recipes and ideas for feeding the family.  The joy of motherhood extends past the teen years and into adult years, and I have often felt the delight of sharing ideas and recipes with them even though they all are wonderful homemakers. I still find myself learning from my parents and older women, and have realized that life and learning is a journey.  It is good to pass on wisdom and instruction to the next generation as we go along.   Each generation has new challenges for the homemaker. One of the biggest challenges a homemaker, can have in this current age is the challenge "What should I feed my family?"  "Should I cook quick and easy recipes to make life a little easier? Should I give my attention to the picky eaters, should I cook frugally,  healthfully or delicious, comfort foodly?  What about those with food allergies. Is there any way to do it all?" Many of these questions were not even thought about when I was a young mother.  So many things have changed; raising, feeding, and nourishing a family can be expensive and time consuming; it requires thoughtful consideration and planning. Whole, organic food is more expensive than non-organic.  Grass-fed beef or chicken is more expensive than grain-fed, Gmo ridden feedlot finished beef or mass produced chicken.  So how do we make meals that are healthy and affordable?  How can we find time to feed the family delicious meals that are homemade?

As for myself, I have had to wrestle with making all of those categories work together.  I love my comfort food, but I also desire to prepare healthy meals and snacks for my family.  I desire to be frugal, but I also desire "real food" to be my priority; which as I said above can be more expensive.  I love ideas for quick and easy recipes, but love homemade "everything" as much as possible.  Certain members of my family can't or won't eat certain things, but I still eat those things. So, what's a Homemaker to do?

The world of the internet has certainly opened up the ability to connect, share and inspire help and ideas like we have never known in times past.  It has also opened up avenues through which many of us can purchase food or tools for the task.  Start with the following, and you can begin to make a way through the confusion you might find in your own lives in regards to food.

  1. Make a list of your families priorities.  
  2. Write down your food budget
  3. Make a list of family favorite foods and recipes.
  4. Make a list of core ingredients that can be bought in bulk, such as beans and other legumes, rice, grains, flours, sugars and nuts.
  5. Begin to put money aside for buying in bulk.
From the above starting place, these suggestions can help with the budget, time management, and encouragement to plan delicious yet wholesome meals.

1.     Buy in bulk. It is one of the bet ways to save money in your grocery budget. Buying in bulk intersects both the healthy cooking standard and the saving money standard that many of us are seeking. The healthiest of foods and the least expensive ways to buy them, can be bought in bulk via the food coop, from the internet via companies like Azure Standard and food buying clubs like Costco or Sams.  While Costco and Sams don't have large offerings of organic ingredients and foods, they do offer some; Costco has really increased the availability of organic food items in stock in recent years.  For many years, I bought from our Local Food Coop.  Every month we ordered, shared, divided and brought home wonderful ingredients all at a savings from anything we could have bought from the store or health food store.

2.     Buy meat from a neighbor or local farmer or rancher.  When we were not raising our own, we have bought a beef from one of several different neighbors for many years.  This is the least expensive way to buy grass fed beef that I know.  We buy the beef and take it down to the butcher ourselves, but there are many ways it can be done, just explore the options. You can do the same with other livestock and poultry, milk and eggs.  Check Craig's list, ask around and knock on doors.

3.     Encourage the family hunters and fishermen. Hunting has also provided a good portion of our meat in years gone by.  My hubby and our boys hunted and fished together and provided many a full freezer.

4.     Grow your own.  I do believe it is very important in these times to increase our gardening capabilities and opportunities.  Begin any way you can.  Pots on the patio, Square foot garden beds or large plots of potatoes and corn… however your family can do it.  It is an investment of time and money that will be well worth it, and you can grow non-gmo, organic food that doesn't take your breath away because of the price.

6.     Pick your own. Neighbors, and local farms often offer good deals to pick fruit and vegetables in season.  We used to pick every year  at the local farms.  Now a days we don't pick, but we do go and buy from them.  Many times neighbors will offer you their excess for free; we have often picked apples at our neighbors ranch that supplied us with applesauce, apple butter, canned and frozen apple slices in abundance for the year. Many fruits can be found wild.   We are always on the look out in our area for the wild plums, choke cherries, rose hips, or wild grapes to be ready to pick, all of which make wonderful jams or teas.

7.     Preserve your own.  If you don't know anything about canning or preserving food, take a class or visit with a friend or family member when they're canning and then dive in.  It is very rewarding work. I first learned to can and preserve many years ago when several ladies in our little town invited me to make Wild Plum Jam with them.  I loved it, and haven't stopped learning or canning since.

7.     Cook and freeze meals ahead to save time. Favorite meals can be made in multiples; Time wise, it is like getting two for the price of one.  If you are making lasagna, make two or three.  If you are preparing potatoes, Make extra for the freezer.  Prepare snacks ahead of time and have them ready to grab when running errands to help keep you from being tempted by junk food in town.  My daughters always bring healthy snacks in the car for the kids, which helps hold hungry tummys when shopping and running errands.

8.     Use the Crockpot.  Planning meals out for the week or even the month is a good idea, and I have done that when our family was big and our budget was tight. Now a days I don't plan meals out quite like that except for the coming of company or special occasions, because most of the time it is just Steve and I; but I do like to think about my dinner plans on the day before or in the morning "of".  It saves time and stress to think about dinner in the morning.  Put it in the crockpot, and you have a wholesome delicious meal ready by dinner time, with little time or stress involved.

9.    If the Budget is tight: Exchange quantity for quality.  I would rather have good grass fed beef less often, or in a lesser quantity than a greater abundance of regular store bought beef or chicken for less money.  Eat bean burritos one night, roast beef or hamburgers the next. One chicken can be stretched in to several meals.  Left over roast beef can be stretched into many meals. Enjoy nutritious soups by cooking the beef and chicken bones for hours to make healthy broths.

10.     Remember to Count the Cost: If you wrestle with the cost of certain food items which are higher priced because they are labeled organic or grass-fed,  remember to calculate the cost in more than the immediate. I have realized over the years that it is going to cost you one way or the other.  Sickness can be very expensive.  Chronic illness takes it tole on the bank account. I consider the cost of organic whole foods to be an investment into our bodies.

11.     Teach your family: It is important to teach and share with your family the "whys" and "hows" of the food we eat; this brings their support, encouragement and help.  It also creates an atmosphere of unity which makes living a healthy lifestyle much easier.

12.     Budget for Joy:  In as much as I have a strong commitment to healthier living, I also work to keep myself from legalism that can enslave us and takes the joy out of eating, cooking and living.  Don't allow yourself to become a legalist.  We should always wear humility, kindness and gentleness in anything we undertake to do, whether cooking, teaching, serving, creating, learning, budgeting, or working.  If there is no grace in these things for ourselves, our family or those around us, we will create resentment and resistance, not only in our family but in ourself, then burn out follows. Allow for the seasons in your life such as the seasons of small children, the seasons of teenagers, the empty nest season… all require a something a little different.  Think of creative ways you can cut costs, time or poor quality food that works for your family and remember: Keep the Joy.

She is like merchant ships;
She brings her food from afar.
She rises also while it is still night
And gives food to her household
And portions to her maidens.
She considers a field and buys it;
From her earnings she plants a vineyard.
Proverbs 31:14-16


  1. I enjoyed this post my friend...thank you for sharing your wisdom here. What a blessing that your girls have YOU! Hugs, Camille XO

  2. Good Afternoon, Pam!

    What some great tips you have for feeding your family. I love the one that says "Budget for Joy!" AMEN!

    I love it. I do use a lot of these often and I pray over our budget and creative ideas all the time.

    Love you so much!

  3. Dear Pam, You are a very wise woman! I really enjoyed this post, it was filled with great ideas, and a good balance to please everyone. With the cost of food this is a very important HOW TO!
    Thanks! Your Photos were really great!
    Loved the Jelly mmm good
    Yours Always, Roxy

  4. some great tips thanks for sharing!! around here since there is no grass and we are so dry and desert I am always cautious about taking meat from my neighbors you never know what they are feeding their animals. It is not healthy like you would imagine a cow out in a field of grass chomping away.. in my neighborhood they are kept in gross pens and fed whatever!! We keep thinking about doing a pig or cow here at our place. We keep our chickens organic and their eggs have been beautiful ~Love Heather

  5. A great post something for everyone. I like to stock up on staples and feel blesses we are able to have a garden that gives me enough for can I g and freezing . Farmers markets are wonderful. Your pictures are lovely.
    Blessings, Cheryl

  6. This post is full of wonderful tips. Even though it's just the two of us now I still stock up on stapes when they are on sale if it's an item I know I will use a lot of over time. And I will still but in bulk if it's something that i know has a long shelve even a small family can benefit from these tips