Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Eat What You Have

I'm not one of those who gets dietary recommendations from the Bible, but I do think there are many helpful principles in Scripture that relate to our food consumption. For instance, I think we are commanded to be good stewards of the earth; therefore, sustainable growing practices make a lot of sense. We're encouraged to trust the Lord for our provision; therefore, not worrying about our next meal also makes sense (of course, this is much easier said than done!).

There's another principle that my friend Megan and I discuss on a regular basis: eat what you have. Really? you say. Is that in the Bible? In a manner of speaking, yes. It's good stewardship to make good use of what the Lord has provided whether it is food, money, clothing, land, .... There are also several direct examples in the Bible that point to this very thing:

The Lord said to him [Moses], "What is that in your hand?" (Exodus 4:2; not food related, but relevant in principle)

And Elisha said to her [the widow], "What shall I do for you? Tell me; what have you in the house?" (2 Kings 4:2)

And he [Jesus] said to them, "How many loaves do you have? Go and see." (Mark 6:38)

And when they had eaten up their fill, he [Jesus] told his disciples, "Gather up the leftover fragments, that nothing may be lost." (John 6:12)

Does this mean that you're being more spiritual when you eat leftovers? No. More spiritual when you make do with a random box of pasta, some random veggies, and leftover chicken? No. It does mean, though, that you're being creative, being a better steward of your resources, and setting a great example for your children! We waste a lot of time, money, and food in this country these days. I'm just as guilty--running to the store for one or two ingredients for a special recipe (and coming home with lots more ingredients), over planning meals for the week and ending up with lots of leftovers that just get thrown away, over buying in general and ending up with LOTS of food in the house that I could use up.

This summer, I challenge you to eat what you have. Summer schedules tend to be a bit more flexible, so make good use of that time. You may end up with some meals that aren't on the favorites list, but you'd be surprised what you can come up with. Invest in a couple of very basic cookbooks (some of my favorites are How to Cook Everything, Joy of Cooking, and Betty Crocker). These have recipes for things like basic muffin batters you can add to at will, pizza crust you can top with anything, flexible quiche recipes, and lots of substitution possibilities in general. If you're part of a CSA, a gardener, or shop at your farmer's market regularly, then check out Simply in Season for a wealth of simple meal ideas with lots of produce substitutions.

We're looking forward to our CSA season, but I'll confess: sometimes, it's a challenge to eat what's in my hand--or box (um, turnips, beets, and eggplant come quickly to mind!). But I can usually find a way to consume them. (Except for beets: haven't found a way yet… YET). Our favorite flexible meals: salads topped with grilled meats and random fresh veggies, pizza topped with nearly anything--even greens, rice bowls topped with some ethnic specialty, quiche with veggies mixed in, pasta with veggies and pesto, wraps with beans/meat and veggies, pita with hummus and fresh veggies,…. there are LOTS of options.

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