Every time I scrape food into the trash, I cringe at the wasted food.
If it’s one thing that makes me feel like a total failure as a wife running a home, it’s food waste.
I am so aware of the blessing of having food. I never want to waste it.
But that is it right there.
It is important to manage your household well, but it is entirely a different matter to be weighed down by the expectation to never waste food.
I could not escape the continual failure of wasting food. Even with my best efforts, I was still throwing food away. No matter how tight I made my grocery shopping or meal planning, there was always leftover. Always.
And that is when I had a renewed mind about how I viewed this “waste”. Was this “waste?” Or was it abundance?
When Jesus fed the five thousand from 5 loaves of bread and 2 fishes, He gave thanks and blessed the food and it multiplied.
The reason there was food leftover was because it was blessed by God.
He did not “waste” food by multiplying too much of it. The leftovers teach us that with Him, there is abundance.
When Jesus fed the four thousand, the same thing happened.
He did not chastise the people for not eating every single bite of it. He did not fret over how to save the leftovers. Jesus thanked the Father for the food.
Learning to Praise God for His Abundance
The Lord teaches us to be good managers of everything He gives us. But managing well is one thing and fretting about our management is another thing. Which one are you doing?
I needed to turn my eyes from myself to the Lord, who is the Provider who has provided in such a way that there are leftovers we cannot even consume! Instead of being stressed about how to use the leftovers or feeling terrible for trashing leftovers, I needed to thank the Father for the food.
This is a moment to worship our Provider.
I thought any food going unconsumed was “waste”. Now I see that it is abundance.
I am not promoting a spirit of negligence to stop managing our kitchen well, but of thankfulness to God for what He gives to us.
Here is the fact of the matter:
Without mistakes in the kitchen, you will never grow as a cook, a meal planner, and a grocery stocker. To get better at the job of the kitchen, you will make mistakes and you will have to throw things out. You need to have grace toward yourself for mistakes and mishaps more than the goal of perfection because perfection will never happen in any aspect of your efforts, even your best ones.
Without flexibility about food waste, you might even hinder the joy of food for your household. If we make “not wasting” the predominant factor in feeding our families, we might be subjecting them to meals they don’t even like. This is seen as some kind of frugal nobility, but I think it is a waste of the experience of a meal, when we have the blessing to eat foods we love.
My husband spent time in countries during his military career that made him fall on his knees and praise God for the life he lives in America. That he can access the exact delicious food that he wants. He eats with such praise for God, unlike anything I have ever seen. It made me realize how much we don’t realize the blessing of enjoying food. We are so blessed and yet limit ourselves. We refuse to eat this or that because we don’t believe it is perfectly nutritious, we refuse to make a fresh meal because we feel obligated to eat the leftovers.
As a health nut for decades of my life, I can attest to the fact that I ate to fuel my body like a machine while rarely ever enjoying my meals.
I had no joy in eating. I lived in a first world country with access to any delicious food. I could make it, order it, find it. But I put strict demands on myself without merely receiving food with thanksgiving to God. I had anxiety about food. Then I had anxiety about not wasting food.
The Blessing of Abundance & Subduing (Managing) Resources
In our day and age, we are taught that we take up space as people, that we waste as people, that we are damaging the world as people….it is ingrained in us that we are never doing enough to undo all the bad things that we do by merely existing. And that to be thankful means not wasting a bit of anything!
The LORD gave us permission to be here and permission to be in charge, and yes, this comes with responsibility to be wise and discerning. We have in fact helped eradicate disease in plants and animals by subduing the earth, we have grown copious amounts of food by subduing the earth, we have invented ways to survive in harsh environments by subduing the earth.
But we have not figured out how to not waste a piece of casserole.
Perhaps we need to consider that even a fruit tree makes more fruit than the family who planted it can eat. Perhaps we need to be ok with some food falling to the ground. Perhaps we need to thank God that some is going to fall, because there will be more than we need!
To God be the glory for this abundance! Abundance is not waste!
I still cringe when I have to throw food away, but I have learned to praise the Lord that we had so much there was too much to eat! It is a total shift from looking at myself and kicking myself, to looking to God and praising God for the abundance. And I still pray for His help in managing my household well, I still seek to not be wasteful because I value the resources He provides. But sometimes “food waste” is not your failure, it is God’s abundant provision!
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