Mother and daughter cooking in the kitchen together

Food For the Soul: How to Use Food to Nourish Your Body and Spirit 

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You know, a lot of time is spent focusing on how food can nourish the body. And that’s because it can! But there’s a million other ways food touches us and can nourish us, not just through the body.

Food can be made out of love for our families, as an act of service and worship. And when done with that mindset, it will uplift your spirit too. Here’s how:

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How to Use Food to Nourish Your Body and Spirit 

Where do we start with nourishing food? 

  • What will we eat tonight? 
  • How much money do we have left for groceries? and
  • Do I have enough time (and chicken) to make that recipe? 

If you’ve ever asked these questions before, then first, you’re not alone. But second, you’ll understand that there can be a huge focus in the kitchen on things that affect the bottom line.

These are all practical questions that can be addressed with meal planning, realistic budgeting, and food preservation or proper food storage. 

Growing up, my family culture revolved around food and the kitchen table. And to this day, 99.999% of things we do still have some element of food to them. We’re always eating and always eating good, too. 

So if you’re wondering, “Where do I even start?” Then I say start with eating and cooking at home. Or at least doing that more than you already do.

So many conversations, memories, laughs, tears and opportunities happen around the gathering table. It’s an incredible place to encourage, teach, learn and share with one another.

And these are some of the ways you can use food and time in your kitchen to influence the heart and spirit of your family.

In addition to that, what you cook can be impactful too.

For instance, did you know that you can elevate the flavor and nutrition of rice (potatoes or beans too) just by swapping out the cooking water for bone broth?

Cooking oatmeal, grits or farina in milk instead of water makes them irresistibly creamy.

And no one will ever know you snuck some frozen, grated liver into the meatloaf if you don’t tell them. But your bodies will notice all of these things and say thank you!

These are some of the small ways food can nourish you physically, but it might not come naturally. In fact, a lot of it will require being very intentional about how you cook. 

Hands down, forgetting to use the organ meat is where I slip most often. But most times I manage to get it in the dish before it finishes cooking. And when I don’t…well, let’s just say it’s a little more noticeable…ahahah just don’t tell my kids! 

But my point is, there’s ways to make it happen. Even on a budget. 

high protein recipes

Making Nourishing Food on a Budget

Ok now, when you hear the phrase “nourishing foods” does your mind jump to golden raw milk butter spread over freshly made and perfectly browned sourdough toast with a side of orange-yolked scrambled eggs?

Or do you see price tags, Organic/Non-GMO labels, and an enormous grocery bill that’s just not feasible? 

If you said the second scene, I’d be right there with you. But I see things a little differently now. 

Don’t get it twisted, I still choose Aldi over most other stores in our area, and not everything in my kitchen is homemade.

Here’s how you can make nourishing meals without breaking the bank:

5 Quick Tips to Keeping Nourishing Foods on Your Table

  1. Plan Your Meals: Take some time each week or month to plan ahead your meals based on food you have in your cabinets, pantry, and storage spaces. Then you can make a very specific shopping list and check online to see what may be on sale at the store. Planning is how you eliminate the daily “What’s for dinner?” conundrum while saving hundreds of dollars and decreasing (or eliminating) wasted food and impulsive buys.
  2. Buy in Bulk: Start getting items like grains, beans and spices in bulk to save money in the long run. Buying larger quantities often comes with a lower unit price, reducing the cost per serving. Just make sure to store bulk items properly so they maintain as much freshness and nutrition as possible.
  3. Use Affordable Protein Sources: Get familiar with the protein sources you actually like, like beans, lentils, eggs or canned chicken or fish. Maybe you ate a lot of tuna fish growing up and are sick of it. No problem, go for canned salmon or sardines instead. Sardines really aren’t that bad, honestly, especially mixed with tuna fish! (Ohhh boy, back to tuna!) The name of the game here isn’t just what’s nutritious – it needs to be versatile. You want ingredients you can use everywhere from soups and chilis to salads and casseroles. One meal ingredients aren’t only costly in the pantry, but they can be tricky to reuse if you don’t have other meals calling for them. Like…saffron #AskMeHowIKnow
  4. Explore Meatless Meals: If you find yourself eating through your grocery budget before the next budget period even opens, look to see if meat isn’t the culprit. It’s usually the higher priced items in a cart. Although if your family is like mine, it’s also just as likely to be all the fruit and kombucha. Regardless, meatless meal options like vegetarian chili and veggie stir-fries can plug the gap a bit. Sprinkle a few meatless meals in your repertoire throughout the month to save money. And don’t think that meatless means flavorless or skimpy! The right dish with enough protein will still hit and you’ll feel full. 
  5. Cook in Batches and Freeze: Double (or triple) a meal you’re already making and store the rest for later once it’s cooled. This is called batch cooking and it saves me a ton of time every time. Plus money too! You can batch whole meals or just the components then do a little mix and match throughout the week/month. This is also a great way to encourage portion control.

Related Post: Meal Planning Made Easy: Strategies for Stress-Free Weeknight Dinners 

Cost-effective Cooking Methods to Save You Time

This is the part of the dinner dance where you get in your kitchen and make music. I get that actually cooking – or maybe being in the kitchen at all – might give you anxiety.
But you can do hard things. 

And remember, this isn’t just something to do, it’s an act of service for yourself and your family. Cooking at home and learning to cook from scratch are worth the investment. Trust me on that one. 

So instead of popping a microwaveable pouch of Uncle Ben’s wild rice on the stovetop again, here are 3 ways I like making good food. You can make deeply comforting, down to your toes, and start doing a happy dance sort of food too! 

  1. Slow Cooking: Baby break out that crock pot and fill it up! Slow cookers are excellent for preparing budget-friendly meals where you use an affordable bit of meat with some  inexpensive ingredients like beans and vegetables to make something that would’ve cost $15+ a plate in a restaurant. Except in this scenario, you get the whole pot for probably less than $15. Slow cooking also allows flavors to develop over time, resulting in some pretty spectacular, unforgettable dishes. This little kitchen gadget is one of my favorites.
  2. One-Pot Cooking: Don’t like dishes? These meals are meant for you then. One-pot meals, like a classic chili or a casserole, are convenient and efficient. Minimize cleanup and make the most of a few inexpensive ingredients. Quite literally, you can mix everything together in the dish/pan you plan to cook it in. 
  3. Batch Cooking: Batch cooking involves preparing larger quantities of food at once and portioning them out for future meals. It’s putting food in the bank for later and saving you time and money by reducing the need for multiple cooking sessions.

There’s really no reason you can’t cook if you try any of these. Especially the crock pot! 

But check this out: use batch cooking to make a few freezer meals in like 45 minutes or less, then pair it with the crock pot and have a fully made, delicious, nourishing meal without any of the work later on. Seriously. 

Or reverse, reverse! Make a batch of something in the crock pot and store half or more in the freezer for another day.

Cooking this way simplifies things and that’s going to increase your confidence over time.

And if you’re not stressed as much by cooking, you’ll be more likely to do so.

And if that happens, you’ll be more willing to serve your family from the kitchen joyfully or at least just have more time to spend with them. Either way, these game-changers are win-wins.

Keeping Nourishing Food Available for Your Family 

Proverbs 6:6-8 (ESV) says, “Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest.” 

These verses remind me that God continuously provides both the food and the opportunity to use it wisely.

I also think they highlight the wisdom of planning ahead and storing up our resources. Sounds a lot like the principles of food preservation to me. 

If you stick around my kitchen long enough you’ll find that I talk a lot about preserving food, too, because it’s the key to food security. Especially if you’re not growing, raising or bartering something of your own.

Preserving food “in season” is when it tastes the best. In season is the time when conditions naturally occur for a certain food item to grow.

I don’t mean forcing food growth like we know of today. Batch cooking meals in advance to save on mental fatigue and reducing food waste will save money. 

But these two methods are also ways to provide nourishing meals to your family year-round. Maybe you’re new to the concept like I was just a few years ago. Well, here’s a Starbucks analogy:

You know how the Pumpkin Spice Latte only comes around once a year and women go crazy for it?

Imagine that’s your favorite drink and you saved enough of it somehow to enjoy a fresh cup all year long. That’s how preserving food works.

I’m not a coffee drinker and never had that latte but girl. When I say I can’t get enough of the Krusteaz’ pumpkin spice waffles?! Mmmmm! 

So, I’m experimenting with turning my own homemade waffle mix into something similar so I can have a version of them any time of the year. And replace one more thing from the store.

But preserving food doesn’t just apply to treats.

Honestly, the bulk of it should go towards your basics. If you eat a lot of potatoes, it’s worth learning how to preserve, freeze or dry-store them for long periods of time.

This means you don’t have to dive into the deep end of pressure canning or root cellaring first. Though if you do, that’s cool!

You should start right wherever you are. Start where your knowledge ends by picking up there. 

The beauty of taking food security seriously enough to act on it is that food preservation is not exclusive.

If you’re in a studio apartment with just a standard fridge and freezer combo, you can do it! Start by learning the best ways to organize produce and fresh juices in the fridge so they won’t go to waste when you suddenly discover them buried in the back of your fridge. 

Or start by learning how to properly freeze food well so it doesn’t go icky on you. I absolutely LOVE vacuum sealing food when it comes to freezer-storing.

And we’ve used plenty of under-bed storage totes and Mylar bags with Oxygen absorbers for longer-term food items in apartments too.

Related Posts: How to Vacuum Seal Food for the Freezer Part 1 & Part 2.

Why Nourishing from Within Even Matters

It’s practical.

Good, nutrient dense food fuels us. Good tasting food excites us. And everyone has that go-to comfort food for when you need a pick-me-up. 

  • Rich, velvety broth with wakame and egg after birth.
  • A bowl of Mom’s family-famous spaghetti when you’re feeling down.
  • Maybe a plate of tender, fall-off-the-bone oxtails when you just miss home. 

All around food is necessary to life and it’s woven into our emotions.

Food connects us with one another too. How many memories do you have that are in some way related to buying groceries, prepping food, cooking meals or eating them with someone else? 

But have you ever stopped to think about how your actions in the kitchen making and eating that food might glorify God? Because whether you realize it or not, money isn’t the bottom line. 

I know it can feel that way a lot of times. And although what we eat, how we make it and who we share it with plays a role in our family dynamic, that’s not the whole picture either.

Ultimately, it’s our heart that matters to God. After all, everything we do should be done as though serving Him (Col.3:23-24). 

It’s stewardship.

Everything we do in our kitchens can be an act of service to our families because it comes from a heart of worship.

The way I see it, God created me with a love for really great food, a desire to serve and then gave me a whole family to enjoy both with! 

There’s one word that continuously cycles through my mind when I think of my family while I’m working in the kitchen:

Stewardship. 

There’s nothing too small to offer to God. And I believe that the time spent planning, cooking, and eating tasty yet nourishing meals with my family is something I can do intentionally, joyfully and consistently. 

When I see my tasks in the kitchen and my role in my family through these lenses, I do better. From the day to day cooking, to the occasional food preservation marathon. It’s all a way to be grateful for what He has provided and to use it wisely.

Cultivating a heart of gratitude is part of this but practicing that also keeps me from being short or snippy too.

All of this comes to life for me ‘round about when I’m on the 14th load of dishes for the day and we haven’t even gotten to dinner yet. 

Despite actually enjoying washing dishes most times, occasionally I start feeling a way about it. So, I remind myself that “Dishes to be washed means food was eaten.” And at that point, I can’t be anything but grateful! 

You can do this too! Maybe for you it’s not dishes, but it’s being more consistent eating at home. Or managing it’s being more intentional with the grocery budget better or cleaning the back of the fridge regularly. 

These things may seem small, but they are important. They’re also the things in your hand you have to offer. All you need to do is serve it up with the right attitude (and maybe a side of bacon) and you’ll start to feel the difference. 

You’ve got this, lovely.

“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.”

Colossians 3:23-24 (ESV)

image of a signature saying "xo, Claire", the Creative behind the Becoming Traditional blog
🌱 Start Small. Start Now. Start where you are with what you have. The rest will follow. 🌱

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