It takes time to cook a meal from scratch.
It's great when we can skip cooking now and then, isn't it? Maybe we are invited by friends or family, or we'll pick up fast food, or we'll go out to eat in a restaurant. One great advantage of eating at a restaurant is that we don't have to wash the dishes and clean up the kitchen afterwards.
To ease some of our workload at home, we could also buy food that has been prepared. Yes, it helps to start off with ingredients that have been washed, cut and precooked. It will save some time compared to having to prepare it all at home. Today I want to draw your attention to processed food, though.
Buying processed food is convenient, yes, but in the end we will have to ask ourselves: Is it really worth it? What do we gain out of this? We surely are paying for already prepared food, prepacked food does cost more. (BTW, from the youngest to the oldest, children should be involved in rinsing, cutting and cooking ingredients. They usually love to help and it is quality time we should spend together.) Sad thing is, that much of the processed food can actually be cheaper - or at least it seems to be - than fresh, healthy, organic and unrefined ingredients.
What's In It?
When we are cooking a meal from scratch, we will know exactly what's in it. Just take the time to read labels of processed food and you'll find out that there are many "ingredients" in them that can cause quite a bit of health problems. Generally speaking, these food items are artificial-laden by added colors, flavor enhancers, sweeteners and preservatives. Not only that, many of them are refined products that have been robbed of their natural and healthy ingredients.
A few years ago I came across a book by Rex Russell called What the Bible Says About Healthy Living. I highly recommend it. I will do a book review in the near future.
Homemade Meals Taste Better
Yes, it does take more time to cook meals from scratch. On the other side, that way you will know exactly what's in them, you can adjust them according to your family's taste and you will rest assure that your family is eating better and healthier than many others who are left to eat processed or fast food.
Memories Of Mom's Food
I've been invited to a lovely German dinner last week. It has been such a treat and brought back a lot of memories. On stepping into the kitchen, my nose immediately picked up many familiar smells (I love the smell of Sauerkraut cooking in a pot) which triggered some childhood memories. While taking the first bite of the dessert called Käsekuchen (German Cheesecake) I had to hold my tears back. That cheesecake tasted so, so good - just like my mom used to make it (she died in 2011).
My point is, that shared meals in the family home are something very special, a treasure of memories to keep. Cooking a meal for your family, seasoned with love and precious time you are putting into it, is a priceless legacy you will leave behind for your children and children's children.
Prepare your outside work, Make it fit for yourself in the field; And afterward build your house. (Proverbs 24:27 NKJV)
The Reformation Heritage Study Bible comments on this verse that we will need to focus on supporting our lives before seeking comforts and pleasures. Meaning, we shouldn't be spending more than what we can afford to live on. We need to secure that money is coming in, before we consider building and/or buying a home. One step at a time: prepare and plan ahead (make it fit for yourself), then build your house.
Think of it, if you are having guests over for dinner, you would not just jump into cooking it 30 minutes before they arrive, would you? Instead, you would be planning and preparing ahead of time. You would plan the meal, think of what you will need, make a shopping list of the ingredients, and go to the store to buy them. Then, back home, you would prepare and cook the food. All of this ideally happens in good timing so that when the guests arrive everything is well taken care of. But not only that, you would also consider if you have enough money to buy the ingredients to cook this meal. Could you afford it?
No different, if you were to plan and prepare your home for your future family. You wouldn't go out to buy things for the baby 30 minutes before giving birth to your child, would you? Instead, you would plan and prepare the home - including the child's room before taking the newborn home from the hospital. But not only that, if you didn't want to go into debt, you would consider beforehand what pieces of furniture and layette you could afford to buy.
The way we differentiate between our wants and our needs will affect the way we are using our finances. It's a shame that in today's world most of the financial advice focuses on how to "pay off debt" instead of how to "stay out of debt." The main focus of advertisements is never on the essentials. They are out for the money. So they will give their best shot to ignite a craving in you for more things - even if you couldn't afford to buy them. You want more? They'll offer you to "buy" things on credit. And, if you are already deep in debt, they'll fool you into taking a credit to "pay off" your debt. What they will not tell you is that you will make your self more and more dependent on creditors.
Live Within Your Means
One of the most important things to learn when handling finances is: spend less money than what comes in each month. Easier said than done? Not really. It just takes a good dose of self-control and persistence. Start by keeping a family account book.
Having said all this, it is important for us to remember that:
Unless the LORD builds the house, They labor in vain who build it; Unless the LORD guards the city, The watchman stays awake in vain. (Psalm 127:1 NKJV)
We can plan and prepare all we want to, if the LORD is not the foundation we build upon. we will eventually labor in vain. Sooner or later our family home will begin to crumble - because we've built it on sand.
Link/Tip: I have come across Larry Burkett's books a long time ago. Even though I slightly disagree with a few things he has taught, I have found his books to be the best on this topic so far. Crown Ministries was founded by Larry Burkett. Check out their website. They have many free downloadable resources and also offer a few courses there.
Slow cookers are great kitchen tools. They come in various shapes and sizes. I own a small, round one that has a capacity of 1.5 liters. I also have two oval-shaped ones: one is a 3.5 and the other is a 4.7 liter one. Yes, baking and cooking will happen much slower, hence the name slow cooker. But even if it does take longer for the food to get done, they are still great for saving on energy while cooking. Their consumption is really low. My smallest one runs on 120W, the medium one on 200W, and the larger one uses only 270W per hour. Compared to preparing a roast in the oven within 4 hours, my medium-sized slow cooker would still only use 1600W for cooking it within 8 hours.
True, slow cookers aren't everybody's cup of tea. However, if you haven't done so, why not give it a try? Maybe you could find one on sale, for half the price, or really cheap at an online store? Or else, you could ask your friend if she would lend you hers for a little while?
Stay tuned. I will post more ideas and recipes in the near future.