By Diana, Contributing Writer
Are you working to ditch processed foods and put more real food on the table? This month we're running a series called Real Food Made Simple: A Beginner's Guide to Eating Better. Our goal is to answer the questions you might have and make the transition a whole lot easier!
Budget Friendly Tips! How To Save Money on Real Food! How to Eat Real Food for Cheap! These are just some of the topics coming at us from every direction these days.
Obviously, there's a reason for that. Many of us have found ourselves in an economy where our cost of living keeps rising but our pay has been frozen for years, or worse yet, even lowered. Couple that with information pouring out at us with how to stay healthy, what vitamins we need for optimal health, different diet fads claiming they've found the secret to weight loss – goodness, it's no wonder that many of us are so confused on how to make real food work in our lives.
It's honestly really simple and something we can each budget into our lives. However, just like in the beginning of time, as humans, we complicate things.
So to make things as simple as I can for you, I want to take you back to the Garden of Eden--to the time of Adam and Eve. My hope is that you will see that if we follow God's plan, you'll find that it is possible to budget in real food every day, and the best thing is that we'll be getting every nutrient and vitamin needed for our bodies in the process.
In The Beginning
29 And God said, “See, I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food. 30 Also, to every beast of the earth, to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, in which there is life, I have given every green herb for food”; and it was so. 31 Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. So the evening and the morning were the sixth day. - Genesis 1:29-31
On the third day God created every herb, seed, and fruit – on the sixth day he gave it to man for food. God's intention for man was to live on a perfect earth, so he created the Garden of Eden. It was a perfect garden with herbs, plants, and fruits.
It was only by man's sin that God cursed both man and woman.
To Adam, he promised...
17 Then to Adam He said, “Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat of it’: “Cursed is the ground for your sake; In toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life. 18 Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you, and you shall eat the herb of the field. 19 In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for dust you are, and to dust you shall return.”
It was after Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden of Eden that our seasons came into play. Adam had to learn to work the soil by the sweat of his brow to grow food for his family as their life now depended on it.
Understanding God's Plan
Step 1: Food is NOT cheap and is something we will always have to work hard for.
When God created the fruits, herbs, and plants, he made them perfect by his touch.
Can you imagine if he said, "and, just to get these humans by, I'll make some quick and easy broccoli over there with only half the vitamins they need because they're cheap and that's all my precious children have time for and can afford!"
God loves us and wants the best for us. His plants are not cheap, they're perfect. He created them perfect for us--so perfect that he made them grow during specific seasons so that they would give us key vitamins and nutrients that our bodies need.
However, as humans we always try to one up God.
Here's the takeaway: There is no easy, cheap, quick way to get good nourishing food.
No, he promised we were going to have to work for our food. That it wasn't going to be cheap. That it was going to be difficult to get. This is our curse we will carry until death.
However, God didn't leave us empty handed either.
He gave us the seasons, the tools, and the wisdom to cook, to research, to make due, and here's the kicker... to depend on Him.
Step 2. We need to truly understand and embrace our seasons
It's no coincidence that spring and winter vegetables like cabbage, broccoli, and cabbage are loaded with vitamin c and k. That dark leafy greens like spinach, Swiss chard, and kale have magnesium, iron, and calcium.
God knew what vitamins we'd need during which parts of the year, so he gave us those foods to be enjoyed and to nourish us.
Seriously, isn't that cool to think about?!
If we eat vegetables that grow in their seasons, we'll be healthier and our immunity will be strengthened. It's not rocket science, and we don't have to listen to experts on talk shows that tell us to take this supplement, make this concoction, do this special diet, etc.
Our Maker has already made us the perfect diet. We just need to follow it.
(I do take a raw supplement in the winter time along with a diet filled with vegetables.)
Step 3. We need to eat more vegetables, including legumes, and less meat
By eating seasonally, this should come naturally. God created every vegetable, fruit, and herb to give us vibrant health.
Most of us are not getting enough vegetables in our diets.
The vast majority of us only eat a few vegetables: corn, broccoli, cauliflower, peas, and green beans.
For the sake of our health, we need to make sure that 50% of our meal is in seasonal vegetables and start limiting the number of days during the week that we eat meat.
By doing this, we'll save money and be healthier.
Step 4. We need to cook intentionally by saving and re-using
Would you have guessed that the Tuscan kale and bean stew pictured above made these enchiladas including the salsa verde?
This is one of the components of cooking intentionally. We can save and work with our food in different ways. This lends itself to spreading the costs, keeping our budgets low, and the best thing yet, adding flavor and depth that would have otherwise taken us hours to achieve.
See, to some that's cheap food, but to me that's tending to God's resources and nourishing my family.
There are so many other ways to cook intentionally. Saving scraps and bones to making stocks and broth is just one example. When we cook intentionally, we're cooking wisely and giving our family the best.
A Traditional Menu Plan on a Budget
As you can tell, this is a passion of mine--teaching people how to cook in season so that they can make delicious food that is nourishing and works within their budgets.
All it takes is a little know-how to dig in and start cooking using what God has given us throughout the year.
To do this, I've started a brand new menu plan service called Spain in Iowa's Traditional Menu Plan on a Budget.
If you're interested, stop on by and check it out. The first two weeks are free!
The feedback so far has been wonderful, and it gives me so much happiness when I hear that children are enjoying their vegetables and new meals every day.
I'm also big on children eating vegetables, if you'd like to follow my series on Ridiculous Good Lunches for Kids, follow me on instagram.
You Can Do This!
I hope through this post you can see that God has given every good thing to be enjoyed and that by understanding His plan we can make wonderful dishes, filled with his perfect nutrients.