(mmm… delicious gluten-free granola bars that we bake every week)
You need to know that food is not my forte.
For years, it has been an up-hill battle…on a mountain of Jello.
In our family of 7, it works logistically for me to take responsibility for menu planning, grocery shopping, and food preparation, but it isn’t my strength or my interest.
Everything about it – the budgeting, the coupons, the food allergies, the health ideals, the elusive photographed recipes in magazines, the time it takes… it all just exhausts me.
For years, week after week, I’d sit with a pile of recipe books and a few grocery store fliers and take 2 stressful hours to figure out what we were going to eat for the next few days. It was the worst part of my work at home. And I knew it needed to change.
So I looked for help and gradually, things improved. Now, many years later, I’m contentedly and consistently working with a peaceful meal plan and grocery list that has improved my attitude about food tremendously.
Do you struggle with budgeting, menu planning, grocery shopping, and food prep, too?
I have good news for you: there’s hope! You can improve. And you can find joy in food.
Here’s how to begin finding joy in food:
• Ask God for it!
I had complained about food one too many times when my friend Steph generously asked, “Have you ever asked God to give you joy in food?”
No, of course I hadn’t. (Why do we so often overlook our most obvious needs in prayer?)
So I began to ask.
Every time I had to make lunch for our hungry kiddos, I’d take a deep breath and ask God, “please give me joy in food.” Every time I sat down to plan my grocery list, I’d gasp, “Please give me joy in food!”
Over time, God did grant my request. As I learned more about food, implemented realistic solutions, and made deliberate decisions to move forward, I gained increasingly more joy in food. In fact, I’m writing this post because I do have joy in food and I’m delighted to share what I’ve learned.
• Read foodie books.
Did you know that this is a genre on the shelves at your local library? People who love food actually write entire books about how food intersects with their lives, how they’ve been formed by food. These books are much more than a compilation of recipes. They are stories like, “When my dad was in the hospital, I couldn’t sleep. So I stewed some left-over dates in a little pot. I drizzled some honey on top and sat in the dark kitchen eating them, one by one.”
Now that I can get into. A beautiful, memorable moment with just “dates and honey” on the grocery list? Yes, please. Spontaneous, rule-breaking, emotion-driven creativity in the kitchen? Yes, please.
A few years ago, I read Bread & Wine. This was my first foodie book. Shauna Niequist tricked me into reading a book about food by making me think it was about God. (That’s my genre.) But she wrote about God AND food and helped me see the connection.
After that, I cranked out 5 foodie books in a row. I just kept checking out the next book on the library shelf. What’s great about foodie books – and different from Food network – is that you see a person relating with food in real life. I remembering snuggling up with Molly Wizenburg’s A Homemade Life, and Ruth Reichl’s Tender at the Bone.
Each author helped to change my mind about the value of food.
I began to see food’s noble place in the home and community. This was good for me: I discovered that I could gladly invest my time and energy into food because it built people, homes, and communities.
Now, I have a vision – a why – in order to love it and work hard at it.
• Listen to the meal-planning experts.
Because I asked God to help me in food, I pursued understanding through research and trusted Him to help me find useful resources. In my journey, I learned a great deal from resources like Cut Your Grocery Bill in Half with America’s Cheapest Family.
The few things that I implemented from this and other helpful resources were:
- Plan a biweekly menu: Do a big grocery order every 2 weeks.
- Forget coupons for now. I just can’t juggle this ball.
- Plan a seasonal menu plan, including snacks, breakfast, lunch, and dinner with simple meals that everyone likes. Type it out on one page, attach it to the fridge, and stick to the list.
- Print a 1-page list of the ingredients and groceries we buy regularly. Also, attach to the fridge. Highlight or circle the items you need from week to week.
Now, when I sit down to plan our menu and write my shopping grocery list, I know what I’m making, I circle the groceries we need, and write a few extras in the margin. I’m finished in 15 minutes.
We’re enjoying nourishing food that is easy to prepare. I see my grateful family around the dinner table, and they see one happy momma.
If that’s not one big slice of “joy in food,” I don’t know what is.
And now, a gift for you and your kitchen…
You’ll love this 15-page printable with the best meal-planning tips that I learned along the way, a copy of my own meal plans, a copy of my weekly grocery list, and 5 of our family’s favorite recipes (including those scrumptious gluten-free granola bars!).
This plan is simple, do-able, and all for you.
The Reluctant Meal-Planner’s Meal Plan will begin your own journey to find “joy in food”.
Share this with a friend who needs a little joy in food!