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?
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.
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:
- How much food do you currently have in your kitchen? 100lbs? 200lbs? More?
- 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.
30 Days Without Spending
And if you’re up for a good challenge, I’d like to invite you to join my family in our “30 Days Without Spending” challenge. Yes, that’s right. We’ve decided to not spend any money on groceries. At all. For the rest of August.
Sound crazy? Perhaps. But after writing this post, it really was on my heart (and my husband’s) to continue to challenge ourselves to be better stewards of what we have, and we’d love for you to join us!
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, which is why we’re taking the “30 Days Without Spending” challenge.
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.