Recently I wrote about keeping track of my food budget in my purse. My
food budget is $65 a week, or $260 a month for a family of six: three
men's appetites (my husband and two sons) and my two little ones and
myself. I use to give us $10 a week per person, then my husband got a
raise, so I gave us an extra $5 a week. ~Smile~ Some women have written
to ask how I do this. So I thought I would share this week just how I do
It all starts with the Word of God. How this beautiful Book teaches me
and teaches me His Truth for my job. The best place to find my job
description concerning the buying of food is in Proverbs 31.
"She is like the merchant ships, she brings her food from afar." Proverbs
What is a merchant ship? This wise woman is described as being like the
merchant ships in bringing food from afar into her household, so we
better take a closer look at exactly what are merchant ships.
"The ships of Tarshish were the carriers for your merchandise. And you
were filled and were very glorious in the heart of the seas." Ezekiel
"Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine in the very heart of your
house." Psalm 128:3
As I studied these passages, I realized how very important my job was in
bringing food into this household. The wise woman was not likened to
just one merchant ship, but rather to many merchant ships. She was filled
and very glorious in the heart of her home, just as the merchant ships
were in the heart of the sea. Merchant ships brought delights from far
away places such as exotic spices, beautiful herbs, and the best of each
country's exports. Merchant ships were loaded with good things at
incredible prices. Merchant ships did not come in weekly, rather they
were few and far apart. But they were loaded when they did come in! And
they were practiced at getting the best possible price for their product.
I learned a lot when I studied exactly what it meant to be a merchant
ship. Then I began to imitate the Proverbs 31 woman (as I affectionately
call her), and began to think "merchant ships" when I went food shopping.
How did this change my food shopping? Well, I stopped shopping so often.
What a relief! I started shopping more in bulk. Since I don't shop as
much as I use to, I really look forward to it when I do go shopping. I do
some of my bulk buying at Costco and another store in town that sells
bulk items. I also buy through a local co-op. Once every two or three
months I take a 45 minute drive to some special stores in my area that
have quality items at good prices. One of them is called Trader Joe's
where I can buy quality tea for half the price of my local supermarket,
so I will buy five or six boxes there at that time. The Merchant Ships
How did this change my cooking? I buy only quality now at the best
possible price. When the quality and price is right, I will buy a lot.
And if at all possible, I will learn how to make it rather than buy it.
The quality is higher that way, and the cost is much, much lower. Also,
the less I need to buy, as most items are made with very basic and simple
ingredients. So the more I keep increasing my cooking knowledge, the more
savings on my food bill and the less items on my grocery list. More
instead of very basic items bought in bulk every few months. The Merchant
For example, here are some items that I have learned to make at a
fraction of the cost in my supermarket: mayonnaise, buttermilk, sour
cream, yogurt, pudding, whipped cream, salad dressing, bread crumbs,
cakes, cookies, pies, breads, pizza, crackers, english muffins, bagels,
salsa, spaghetti sauce, refried beans, ice cream, granola, oh, I think
you get the idea. The main ingredients in many of these items are simply
eggs, flour, milk, cream, oil, vinegar, beans, butter, oats, tomatoes,
oh, and I think you get the idea. I really only need basic ingredients to
make a host of different recipes in my home. I will try to share with you
many of these recipes as I go about making them "In My Home This Week."
You see, the more I learn in my kitchen, the more time and money I save
in the supermarket. And the richer my family is for it. So I keep
building on my former knowledge. (Remember I started out on the bottom
here, so there was no way but up. ~Smile~) I try to use everything.
Everything! I don't like to throw anything away, so I am consistently
trying to make new recipes with left overs. For example, leftover rice:
rice pudding or a stir fry, cold oatmeal: oatmeal muffins, fish head:
fish soup, dry bread: bread crumbs or bread pudding, turkey bones: turkey
soup, mashed potatoes: dumplings, oh, I think you get the idea. Many
times my children love the recipe with the leftovers as much as the
original dish. Every little bit of savings helps. Every little bit.
I use coupons, if it is feasible. I send in refunds, if it is feasible. I
shop from store specials, if it is feasible. But most of my savings come
from cooking as much as I can from scratch with the shopping I've done in
bulk. Many recipes I will have to reject because the basic ingredients
require a package of this or a can of that, which is not a simple, basic
ingredient that I buy and tend to always have in my pantry. The simpler,
For example, this past summer I made over 60 pints of apricot and peach
jam from our trees. It cost very little to make, except for my time in
the heat of the summer and a little sugar. But now I am reaping the
benefits as my family enjoys jam all through the winter. I haven't bought
jam since last July. This verse also comes to my mind when I am preparing
or bringing food into my home like the merchant ships:
"Four things are small on the earth, but they are exceedingly wise: the
ants are not a strong folk, but they prepare their food in the summer."
Proverbs 30: 24-25
"Go to the ant, O sluggard, observe her ways and be wise, which having no
chief, officer, or ruler, prepares her food in the summer, and gathers
her provision in the harvest." Proverbs 6:6-8
How often I thought of the above verse when I was making my jam in the
heat of the summer. It moved me forward a few pints at a time. For the
LORD showed me that the ant couldn't "carry" much at a time due to her
small size, but it was her perseverance in the every day daily work that
brought her much in the end.
And we can't learn everything in one day, just as the ant can't carry
everything in one day. That is why I only write to you once a week. The
LORD has shown me that if I wrote more, I wouldn't be able to practice
what I write (too much typing and not enough homemaking ~Smile~ and it
would be too much information for you to take in all at once.) We can
enjoy learning and enjoy practicing what we learn a little bit at a time.
Some things are to be saved and savored for later in our lives, perhaps
when we don't have a nursing baby waking us up in the middle of the
night. But it is the pleasure of learning and practicing new things that
enriches our homemaking as the years go on.
The merchant ships mentality. Yes, that is definitely the wise way to
bring the best of the best into your home to the delight of your family.
It is using everything to its fullest extent for the good of your
family's health and pocket book. The LORD is good. The LORD is good. No
wonder He said over and over about the Promised Land: "A land flowing
with milk and honey." And "I fed you with the finest wheat, honey, and
oil." The best, simple, quality ingredients from the LORD used to bake
and cook for the ones you love.
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