How Much Food is Enough?

TNH Too Much Food Cover

If you were to walk into my kitchen today, you would find roughly 400lbs of food. Included are at least 50lbs of whole grains that a friend gave to me before they moved to Peru a couple months ago and several cans of Italian tomatoes we ordered in bulk for our favorite pizza sauce.

There’s also six different types of sweeteners, several varieties of flour (at least five, but probably closer to 10), and seven kinds of dried beans.

Between the fridge and freezer, you’ll find 40lbs of chicken and 70lbs of berries. There’s another 4lbs of berries on the counter, 5lbs of potatoes on the dryer, 9lbs of strawberries in the dehydrator and 4lbs of blueberries turning into leather in the oven.

Don’t forget the myriad of sauces and vinegars in the pantry, homemade yogurt and dressings in the fridge and the zucchini bread and chocolate chip cookies on top of the microwave.

The more I think about the kitchen, the more I’m apt to believe that saying we have a lot of food is a gross understatement.

The problem? The feeling that I still need to go grocery shopping.

Most of this food wasn’t in our kitchen two days ago. Every year my dad brings home an overflow of produce, and when he does, it’s a race to dehydrate, can, jam, freezer or eat as much as we can before it goes bad.

But just last weekend, when there was 200lbs less food in my kitchen, the tug to go to the grocery store was still there. Admitting this is difficult and humbling, but it sparked something inside.  Much like I share my shopping trips every month to hold myself accountable to my grocery budget, sharing with you what’s in my kitchen is a reality check that I felt this past week that I believe many of you can benefit from as well.

How many days could we go without grocery shopping?

Raspberries

Have you ever looked at what was in your kitchen and wondered that? I do, almost every month.

My family is blessed in more ways than I can possibly count. We have a roof over our heads and clothes on our backs. There has never been a day when we go hungry, yet there’s always a small part of me that thinks the food we have isn’t enough.

I meal plan based on what’s in the house and then shop the kitchen before every stepping foot in a store. But still… it’s a trip for just one lemon… or just sour cream and dill… or whatever else I think we “need” in order for the family to eat a proper meal.

But what would happen if I didn’t go to the store?

Would we starve? Would we lose any nutrients? Would the family complain about the salad being dressed with plain oil and vinegar instead of a tastier strawberry vinaigrette?

How much is enough?

Last year at the Allume Christian Bloggers Conference, Kelly and I heard Jeff Shinabarger, author of “More or Less,” speak on the topic of “enough.” He shared a story about how his wife began to question her thoughts about her wardrobe. Instead of continuing to think “I don’t have anything to wear” each time she opened her closet, she instead wondered how many days she could go without wearing the same thing twice.

The question she asked herself was, “how much is enough?” She soon discovered that she had enough clothing in her closet to wear a different outfit for more than 45 days in row. This simple question changed her perspective and her family’s. They now serve to help others in need.

Asking ourselves “how much is enough?” can be the ultimate key to discovering our needs versus wants, and so I’m taking it to the kitchen and I’d like to encourage you to join me …

Ask yourself: How much food is enough?

The average family eats between 3-5 pounds of food per day. Starting with the 400lbs of food in the house and assuming my family of four eats 16lbs of food each day, we could eat for 25 days without leaving the house.

And you know what? I think we could easily go longer.

It’s not a competition to see who could eat the smallest meals possible so that they can say they went the longest without shopping.

Rather, it’s the fact that 95% of the food in our house is real food (with the tortilla chips and ice cream being the two current exceptions) and the nutrients in real food help to control our appetite and blood sugar. Eating real food means we’re less likely to overeat in the first place, and the food we do eat will help us feel full and more satiated than if we had eaten junk food.

Plus we don’t eat much of the food we have in its current form. Whole grains are ground into flour to make bread. Raw beans are soaked and cooked first. Salads are only drizzled with dressings, not soaked in them. So there is certainly more food available than we probably even realize.

Blueberries

So while the math says we could go for 3-4 weeks without shopping, I have no doubt that if we made a legit attempt at eating only the food in our home, we could add at least another week.

Sure, we’d cook pretty much everything from scratch, and there would definitely be some hodge-podge meals, but we’d still be eating real food.

Can you imagine how much money my family would save if we didn’t go grocery shopping for 5 weeks?

Our grocery budget is $330 for four weeks, which means we’d save over $400 simply by eating the food we already have on hand.

Friends, I encourage you to ask yourself these two questions, and answer honestly:

  1. How much food do you currently have in your kitchen? 100lbs? 200lbs? More?
  2. How much food is enough? Could you stay out of a grocery store until your family ate every last ounce, or at least made a significant dent in your surplus?

There are hundreds of ways you can save money on real food, but there’s one way that surpasses them all: Eat what you already have.

As summer begins to wind down and the busy season of school looms ahead, I encourage you to not just be a good steward of your provisions, but to seek contentment with them by cultivating a heart of thanksgiving.

Before you shop – before you even make a meal plan or shopping list – really consider how much food you already have and find a way to use it. Your kitchen will be less cluttered, your budget will be leaner and your purposeful stewardship will be for His glory and will result in a more thankful heart.

Honestly, how many days could you legitimately eat, based on what’s in your house?  I’ll go first:  I think we could eat for 33 days.

Note from Kelly: For many of us, stocking our pantry and fridge week after week (even when we may already have an abundance of food) often is a result of mindless habit rather than thoughtful intention. That’s why stopping and asking ourselves “how much is enough?” helps us to live more purposefully – with more intention and with more gratitude. Tiffany’s post really struck a chord in my heart, and as I began to take inventory of my near-full pantry, I stopped and prayed, “thank you, Lord, for your gracious blessings!” I needed this reminder to be thankful for my daily bread and for friends like Tiffany who help us to stay focused on what truly matters – living with gratitude to the praise of His glory. I hope this post blesses your heart, as it has mine.

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Almost Oatmeal Cookies (Grain-Free, Egg-Free, Dairy-Free Option)

Almost Oatmeal Cookies {grain-free}

If you’ve been hanging out with me for awhile, then you know that for the last six months I’ve been developing more than 100 new recipes for my upcoming book “Everyday Grain-Free Baking.” I’m excited to share some good news … the manuscript went to the publisher at the end of June and I just heard back that they love it! Yay! So it looks like we’re right on track for pre-sales to begin in October – I’ll keep you posted!

In the meantime, to celebrate, I thought we could bake-up some delicious grain free oatmeal cookies together! So of course, I’m excited to share a brand new recipe from the book that’s truly one of my personal favorites.

I call this recipe “Almost” Oatmeal Cookies, because although there isn’t a single oat in these beauties, the taste and texture is so reminiscent of their namesake, they’re certain to bring a smile to your face! (Especially if you’re like me and have been missing oatmeal cookies since going grain-free.) 

Unsweetened shredded coconut is the secret behind this cookie’s chewy texture reminiscent of the oatmeal cookies we grew up enjoying. So grab a glass of milk and get ready for these delightful honey-sweetened treats!

Grain-Free Almost Oatmeal Cookies

Grain-Free "Oatmeal" Cookies (Egg-Free, Dairy-Free Option)

Yield: 1 1/2 dozen cookies

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the almond flour, coconut flour, baking soda and salt.
  3. Using a stand mixer or electric hand mixer, mix together the butter (or palm shortening), coconut oil, honey, vanilla and cinnamon until smooth and creamy.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix well to combine. Then add the shredded coconut; continuing to mix until well blended.
  5. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the raisins. Then drop the dough by rounded spoonfuls at least two inches apart onto the parchment-lined baking sheet. Use your fingers to slightly flatten the cookies into rounds.
  6. Bake for 8-10 minutes, until golden brown along edges. Allow the cookies to completely cool on the cookie sheet, as they will be very soft and crumbly when hot.
  7. Once cooled, they transform into the ultimate deliciously chewy treat!
http://thenourishinghome.com/2014/07/grain-free-oatmeal-cookies/

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Frozen Fruit Desserts Your Family Will Love

Summer Fruit Desserts Your Kids Will Love

I have a special treat for you today … My sweet friend Dena from Back to the Book Nutrition is visiting with us sharing three of her favorite frozen fruit desserts perfect for summertime. Because I got a sneak peek at these recipes, my family already made her scrumptious Frozen Banana Pops and let me assure you that they’re definitely a huge hit! Next on our must-make list is her decadent fruit floats. Yum! So, take it away, Dena …

Frozen Fruit Desserts Your Family Will Love

by Dena at Back to the Book Nutrition

Despite my passion for dessert, our family tries to only indulge on the weekend. During the summer, our weekend treat tends to be something fruity or frozen, like the three amazingly simple and delicious frozen fruit desserts that I’m sharing below.

If you’re a dessert lover like me, you’ll appreciate that each of these feature delicious, refreshing, and healthy fruits straight from God’s creation. Packed with all-natural sweetness and flavor, they’re also loaded with nutrition! So, they’re sweet treats you can feel good about feeding your family … and even though they’re healthy, I guarantee your family will love them!

Fruit Floats

Labeled-Fruit-Floats-976x1024

I developed these fruit floats last summer, and they were an immediate favorite with our family and friends. We made endless varieties throughout the season, and I’ve already had requests to make them again, now that summer is in full gear.

The idea is similar to an old-fashioned coke or root beer float – only the ice cream floats in 100% fruit purees that take just a few minutes to blend. Get the recipes for the three Fruit Float recipes pictured (Strawberry-Banana-Coconut, Cherry-Berry, and Pineapple). Or try my original Fruit Floats recipes (Watermelon-Strawberry, Mango-Orange, and Blueberry-Pineapple).

Organic Fruit Juice Popsicles

labeled-popsicles-768x1024

Few desserts are simpler than fruit juice popsicles. Once summer is in full swing, you’ll find a batch of them in our freezer on any given day. Sometimes we simply pour fruit juice into the popsicle molds, but occasionally, I’ll get out the Vitamix and blend some frozen fruit with a little juice for a change. You’ll find three of our favorite healthy, homemade and economical Organic Fruit Juice Popsicle recipes over at my blog.

Chocolate Covered Banana Pops

Chocolate Covered Banana Pops 4

The first time I enjoyed these pops was almost 20 years ago at a VBS during a mission trip to Honduras. Women from the little country church thoughtfully handmade the frozen treats for all of the children and volunteers. They were a huge hit – not only because they were delicious, but because these children rarely enjoyed treats of any kind, let alone chocolate dipped bananas!

Now I’m seeing various recipes for banana pops both online and in stores, but I only recently made them myself. I’m not sure why I waited so long, especially since the whole family loves them!

Any type of chocolate can be melted for dipping. (I use Enjoy Life chocolate chunks, which are gluten free, dairy free and soy free – don’t let that description fool you, though – they’re delicious!)

Our favorite sprinkled toppings are pictured here – chopped peanuts, almonds and shredded coconut. However, you can use just about anything – a sprinkle of sea salt, additional chopped chocolate, maybe even a drizzle of nut or seed butter… Oh dear, those all sound so good! I had better focus, or I’ll be running off to try some of those new ideas.

Chocolate Covered Frozen Banana Pops

Yield: 4 banana pops

Ingredients

  • 2 very large or 4 small fresh ripe bananas
  • 1/2 bag (5oz) Enjoy Life chocolate mega chunks
  • 1 tsp pure coconut oil
  • Pinch of sea salt (optional)
  • 1/2 cup (2 tbsp per pop) of desired toppings (chopped nuts, etc.)
  • Pops Supplies:
  • 4 popsicle sticks (or cake pop sticks)
  • Wax paper
  • Cutting board, cookie sheet or other flat surface for freezing

Instructions

  1. Prepare the cutting board or cookie sheet by covering with wax paper.
  2. Set out your toppings and do any chopping or other prep that’s needed before continuing.
  3. Place chocolate and coconut oil in a small saucepan over the stove. Heat over low heat, stirring constantly until just melted, then turn heat off. (Alternatively, place ingredients in a glass bowl and microwave in 15-second intervals, stirring between each. Should take only 45-60 seconds of heating time to melt the chocolate). Add a pinch of sea salt if desired.
  4. Peel the bananas, slice into halves if using large ones, or just slice one tip off if using small ones.
  5. Gently insert a cake pop or popsicle stick into the flat end of one banana, then carefully press until it is inserted about halfway down the length of the banana.
  6. Either dip the banana pop into the melted chocolate, or use a spoon to drizzle the chocolate onto the banana, turning so that the entire banana is evenly coated. Allow any excess to drip back into the chocolate dish.
  7. Lay the chocolate covered banana at one end of the wax paper-covered board, then sprinkle generously with toppings.
  8. Repeat the dipping and topping for all pops, then place the board in the freezer for at least 20 minutes, or until chocolate is set.
  9. If storing in freezer overnight or longer, be sure to cover or transfer the banana pops to an airtight container. To serve, allow banana pops to sit at room temperature for a few minutes.
http://thenourishinghome.com/2014/07/frozen-fruit-desserts/

Thanks again to Kelly for inviting me over for a visit today. I hope these fruit-filled desserts help make the rest of the summer a little sweeter for you and your readers’ families!

DSC_5115-2-177x193Dena Norton is a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) turned stay at home mom. She and her husband, Rick currently have two precious children, ages 4 and 22 months. In 2013 she started Back To The Book Nutrition, a business and blog that inspires others to enjoy and worship God through nutrition and health. Subscribe to Dena’s blog or join her on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest!

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