We live in a land of abundance. Strawberries are available all year round. We have about 100 different kinds of milk to choose from and about eight different brands (at least) of anything our heart desires. Most of us have never had to rely off of our gardens to supply our food for the year. And if we are being honest, a lot of us don’t even know where our food comes from. Planning food security up until now has only consisted of meal planning and deciding where to shop this week.
Stress mounts when we hear about antibiotics and hormones used in meat production. Words like GMO, all natural, BHT, dyes, potassium acesulfame, and sucrose mar our labels and send us reeling. Most of us want to feed ourselves and our children healthy options, but the truth is most of us don’t even know what we are consuming. And now as words like food insecurity, lack, and shortage weave into every news program- we see the worry and the concern growing on every front.
So many feel fear and helplessness. My hope is to combat those feelings, for myself and others. Knowledge is power. You don’t have to have 100 acres or a million dollars. You don’t need to be fully self sufficient or have a fully stocked underground bunker. There is no reason to hoard or live in fear. Instead, we can take careful, strategic steps together. Steps that serve us whether we face new and hard circumstances or if life simply continues on like normal. This is the first post in a series on planning, preserving, and being prepared without fear!
Why do this series on planning food security if I’m not afraid?
I really want to clarify that I feel no intense urgency or prophetic warning that I should be prepping my family to live off of only what I have saved for the next couple of years. I don’t feel that at all. In fact I feel the opposite. You see I serve the same God who sent Elijah to the widow and her son. Her oil never dried up and her flour never diminished until the rain fell again. I trust God to sustain us. I trust God to keep us. But I also know that God offers wisdom. As I have read over Proverbs the past couple of weeks I have realized that the wise plans ahead.
Proverbs 6: 6-8
Go to the ant, O sluggard,
consider her ways and be wise.
Without having any chief, officer or ruler
she prepares her bread in summer and gathers food for her harvest.
Our grandparents understood this more than most of us do. We have access to such an abundance that we have never had to plan ahead for a season of lack. And whether we do now or not, this is a great time to learn some old lessons. Learning how to preserve and properly store food. Learning how to rely less on the grocery store. And learning how to waste less are beneficial lessons regardless of what is ahead! This is a great time to learn some new old skills and a great time to change up our eating habits into something healthier and more sustainable. This is a win-win either way.
Rather than approaching this season with fear, let’s approach it with gratitude for the knowledge we will gain and the new lifestyle we are creating!
In every gain, learn to give!
Sometimes the idea of stocking up and preserving can stir up a spirit of selfishness. Once again that is fear speaking. Fear says this is all mine and I can spare none or my family will starve. Wisdom says let’s give freely to our neighbors because we are prepared. A giving heart is essential especially in times of uncertainty. If we learned to be a less selfish and more giving community so many fears would be extinguished. I can’t grow good carrots, but I to do well with basil and tomatoes. If we all gave a little of what we have an abundance of- if we all brought our gifts and our gains to the table- we would have more than enough. (Not to mention the beauty of community and fellowship that comes with that!)
So where do we start?
Listen, everyone is in a different place. Some of you may already have overstocked pantries and backup generators, others may have bare cupboards waiting on the next paycheck. But I think for most of us we are somewhere in between. We have some extra canned foods and dried beans in the back of a cabinet. We could get by just fine for a week or two but we still rely largely on Wal-Mart pickup. And here’s hoping we always have that option!
This is not the time to get crazy and knock out the stock boy over a roll of Charmin. This is a time to be practical and prepared. No chaos or ridiculous hoarding- just planning and knowing that whether good times or bad- we got this! So here are 4 simple ideas to get us started!
1. One for Now and One for Later
You know those items that reappear every single week on the top of your grocery list? Like bread and peanut butter. I mean seriously veteran moms when does the demand for peanut butter die down?
Oftentimes stocking up is incredibly impractical. Perhaps for financial reasons. But also because how far does 25 pounds of beans really get you if no one wants to eat them? So a great start is to simply buy one for now, one for later. You can stretch this as much as your budget and your pantry will allow. (Two for now, three for later; one for now, five for later.)
Don’t stock up on junk, perishable items, or things you will never use or don’t know how to use. Grab the things your family deems essential. The things you use and wouldn’t want to be without and make sure you have a few extra just in case!
The upside to buying this way is knowing you will use this stuff either way. And if you have week without a paycheck, a supply chain issue, or you just don’t want to get out- you’re covered!
2. Learn the Basics of Cooking from Scratch
I will get around to a full blog post on this in time, but for now I just want to encourage you: if you like to eat it, learn how to make it! For some this is exciting, but I know there are others who cringe openly at the idea of dragging out a bin of flour and measuring cups. Honestly, I LOVE to cook! Though I do hate cleaning up afterwards, but I love cooking, baking, canning, and experimenting.
I used to be terrified of frying food. I invested in some really good tongs and stood like 6 feet back dreading the moment I had to flip something. Now I do it without thinking about it- almost to a fault sometimes. Learning basic cooking methods or how to implement herbs into your repertoire is a great skill to develop regardless of what lies ahead. A key element in planning food security is to know how to utilize the food you are sourcing.
Most recipes consist of similar ingredients. Baking for example will need a flour, a rising agent, a sweetener, and a butter or liquid base. Bread is as simple as flour, salt, yeast, and water. Once you know the basics: what goes with what, what you can substitute for a missing ingredient, and what ingredients are the most used and most essential- you can make anything from almost nothing.
3. The Farmer’s Market Is a Great Place to Start!
It’s basically July and I don’t have a garden, so I can’t do this, right? Nope, wrong you are my friend! In fact a lot of my garden is not thriving this year. But the Farmer’s Market is stocked just as usual. Anything that you could can, preserve, freeze, or save from a garden- can be found at the farmer’s market. Buy up some cucumbers and try a quick pickle recipe or slice of some green peppers fresh from a local garden and toss them into your freezer.
A lack of land or germinated seeds shouldn’t stop you from storing up food if you really want to. Buying fresh local food and learning to preserve it is an incredible place to start!
4. Establish alternative (preferably local) Sources
Meet a farmer! I genuinely mean that. Go up to someone who raises cows, vegetables, sheep, or chickens and say “Hello!” Find out what they raise and how they sell it. Learn their methods for growing or raising. Meet the cow your milk comes from or the chicken who lays your eggs. Why? Because the more we know about where we source our food from the better and healthier we can eat. And the more stable our food supply is. Planning food security isn’t about hoarding food in your home, but rather having access to safe, healthy, and good food- preferably from a local source.
A truck convoy in Canada may delay your Special K cereal, but if you have ever known a farmer- rain or shine- they get up and they take care of things! Your local farmers rely on their crops and their animals to feed their family. Who do you trust more a local chicken farmer who feeds his own family with his chickens or Tyson?
Planning for Peace, Casting out Fear
What is the saying- failure to plan is a planning to fail?
Mamas, knowledge is power. First of all, know your God and rest in Him. No matter what comes- good or bad- He is your refuge. And second, know your plan. Again, this is not the time to let fear drive you underground with sixty years worth of dehydrated food. Rather this is a time to learn a new skill: master homemade bread, water bath canning, or make ahead freezer meals. Have a practical plan in place for the worst that also serves you in the best.
My hope is that this series of blogs is unwarranted and unneeded. But everywhere I look I hear the warning bells. The woman in Proverbs 31 does not fear the snow because her household is clothed in scarlet. Mamas, is your household clothed in scarlet?
Are they wrapped in prayer and covered in the blood of Jesus?
Are they safely resting because they know that you are handling things and surrendering every thought and every plan to Jesus?
This is not to condemn you if you are worried or falling short- this is to encourage you. To push you to get up, to pray, to plan, to be the woman that people can run to in times of trouble because you are not afraid, your house is clothed in scarlet.
We can do this, together.
I’ll see you soon to continue our talk on preserving the harvest and planning ahead!
Need more ideas on how to move towards food security right now? Click here!