We are pretty good at beating ourselves up as women. I once heard a pastor joke that his wife’s spiritual gift was guilt. Haha! Well that is certainly true for me every time I scrape food into the trash. That is the worst feeling. But thanks to God I had a change of perspective on this.
Romans 12:2 says “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
I pray this verse continually for myself. There is nothing like being transformed by the renewing of your mind. Jesus sets us free in every way. And He set me free from food waste remorse.
I could not escape the continual failure of wasting food. I would force myself to eat leftovers that did not taste great as leftovers! And unfortunately, I hear of a lot of women who make their families eat food that they don’t like in the name of “not wasting it”.
My perspective on enjoying food has been greatly transformed and while it goes hand in hand with this topic, I will keep this part of it brief: If we are blessed enough to eat, or not eat something, out of a preference, enjoy that. 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 WHATEVER delicious food he wants. He eats with such praise for God, unlike anything I have ever seen. It made me realize how much we don’t even enjoy the blessing of having food and choices. We are so blessed and yet limit ourselves and put strict demands on ourselves without just receiving food with thanksgiving to God and praising him. We can eat something that we truly enjoy, not something to just keep us alive. Every meal is an opportunity to truly enjoy food and praise God for it.
And how much do we hear about “zero waste”? This is the ultimate goal of our time. This weighed on me with every decision in my home but it always felt particularly cringy to put food into the garbage. Even if it was old, even if it was two bites left on a plate.
I have always suffered from being a prisoner of trying to do things “perfect”.
Until the Lord taught me through my husband, that it is ok to have more than enough. It is okay to throw left over food away. And not in a spirit of negligence but actually in thankfulness for the fact that we had MORE than enough. We can make something fresh. We can try a recipe, dislike it, and not feel bad throwing it out. And that is the point. With God, we have abundance.
I am not telling you to waste food or resources flippantly, but that when you simply have more than you need, don’t kick yourself for having to throw something away. Because even with the best intentions and effort, it will happen.
My husband has often found me dutifully eating something that I could barely stomach and he would remind me to instead praise God that He provided ABUNDANTLY for me and eat something I like. This is a moment to praise and worship God for His goodness.
When we throw food out, we instead feel bad and the focus is on ourselves and what we did wrong or what we need to do differently. It was this cycle of kicking myself that made me realize….this is not the right response because I will never get this perfect. I will never have zero waste and I will feel like I did something wrong if a morsel has to go into the trash.
I realized that I will never calculate things JUST RIGHT. I will buy things I don’t like, I will make dinners that don’t reheat well, I will buy too much of something and it will spoil, I will have just a little left on my plate….
And that is the point. I can praise God that He did calculate it right because we had enough, we had more than enough.
And without mistakes in the kitchen, you will never grow as a cook, a meal planner, and a grocery stocker. Without flexibility, you might 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 our own dogma more than simply blessing them with a meal they love. And if you can do both then even better!
This isn’t all about doing it perfectly to avoid some cosmic disapproval of man or God. But 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. And that to be thankful means not wasting a bit of anything!
God told us to be fruitful and multiply and to subdue the earth. Right there, God is telling us the complete opposite of what we are told our entire lives by the world.
“And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” Genesis 1:28
He gave us permission to be here and permission to be in charge, and yes, this comes with responsibility to be wise and discerning. But wisdom from God is not the wisdom of this world that is constantly telling us we aren’t doing it good enough unless we are doing it the prescribed way of culture. But the prescribed way is impossible. There is no such thing as a human living by “zero waste”. That is a made-up concept of man. We do make waste, but we also create and caretake and no one is telling us how great it is that we make a footprint for creating and a footprint for caretaking! It is always in the negative that humans destroy the earth.
But the earth is not God. The earth belongs to God.
“The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein.” Psalm 24:1
“For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills.” Psalm 50:10
Perhaps you have a fear-based mindset, not a shame mindset. Instead of feeling like you failed when you throw food out, you fear that throwing things out means you are taking away from what you will need in the future. Maybe you are upset when you buy too much of something and it goes bad, you fear that the money you spent is now gone and it was wasted. It is a loss of provision that scares you.
Fear for our provision can lead us to a scarcity mindset because we fear wasting what we have, we fear not getting what we need in the future, we scrimp, we try….and how sad that we live in these fretful emotions. The Lord said many times to not be afraid.
We need to trust the Lord for His provision. His abundant provision. We can only be so careful, we will make mistakes. Food will go bad. But there is not a finite amount of things in the world as your fear might make you feel. We need to learn to be good stewards of what God provides, but we also need to learn to TRUST that the Lord DOES provide.
“You crown the year with your bounty; your wagon tracks overflow with abundance.” Psalm 65:11
Abundance is from God so praise Him for it.
“My cup over flows” Psalm 23:5
There are hard seasons in life. But as the Bible points out, there is a season for everything. But I can attest to the fact that even in hard seasons, I still had abundance. I still “wasted” food.
When Jesus fed the five thousand from 5 loaves of bread and 2 fishes, He gave THANKS and BLESSED the food and it multiplied.
“Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass, and taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven and said a blessing. Then he broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. And they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up twelve baskets full of the broken pieces left over.” Matthew 14:19-20
The reason there was food leftover was because it was blessed by God. And Jesus always thanked the Father for the food.
He did not “waste” food by multiplying too much of it. The leftovers teach us that with Him, there is abundance. That’s the point.
When Jesus fed the four thousand, the same thing happened. “And they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up seven baskets full of the broken pieces left over.” Matthew 15:37
He did not chastise the people for not eating every single bite of it. He did not fret over how to save the leftovers.
But women continually feel that they are somehow doing it wrong if they don’t calculate every meal to be perfectly consumed, or if they don’t roll over the leftovers into another meal to make the most of it. We can certainly try these things, but we need to rejoice in the Lord for the meals. That He gives abundantly.
He has no limits. He owns it all and he gives it freely and he gives to those who ask!
I no longer kick myself when I throw food away, I praise the Lord that we had so much there was too much to eat! What a difference to see it from this perspective.
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Romans 12:2
Thank you Lord Jesus for helping us in every small way, from the smallest caretaking of our homes, to understanding our place in the big picture. You own it all. Let us praise you and not rely on our own understanding but acknowledge you in all of our ways and to know your grace, freedom and wisdom that you give abundantly.