“She is like the ships of the merchant; she brings her food from afar.”
Today's lesson is a bit different sisters. Today I'm going to give you some practical tips on how to be like the merchant ships. Come on, admit it, you've always wanted to be a ship, haven't you? Yeah, me neither! But let's take a look at this anyway, shall we?
Merchant ships are very interesting. While they are not the fastest means of transporting goods from one area to another, they are the most cost-effective and efficient, especially for perishable goods like food.
In our modern day society, we all want everything NOW! That's why we have instant coffee, drive-thru everything (even pharmacies and dry-cleaners). We have microwave ovens and quick easy meals at the grocery store ready to buy, heat up and enjoy! But there's a problem with our high-tech modern day society.
Jet airplanes can transport food faster than merchant ships, so why are ships the preferred method? The answer is because ships can carry a greater load and use less energy and resources than jet airplanes. It would take an airplane many trips, and cost nearly 10 times as much to carry the same load a merchant ship can carry all at once.
One of the things I've struggled with daily, is being lazy in providing my family with good nutritious meals. I get tired, feel over-worked and well, some days I just can't seem to get it together. So I figure, "It won't hurt just this one time to go out and get something to eat." or "I'll get just a couple of frozen meals, just in case I get in a pinch." But honestly, those days were not exceptions, but excuses because I didn't have a better plan.
Quick digression: Did you know that the frozen prepared dinners are very high in salt? One frozen prepared meal can contain anywhere from 700 mg - 1,800 mg of sodium, which is almost half of the daily max of 2,300 mg. The other problems are the quality and amount (or lack of) fruits and vegetables in these meals.
Many years ago, after much prayer and guidance from our Lord, I was able to sit down and plan a healthy menu (two weeks at a time) for me and my family. There are things I keep in my refrigerator, freezer and pantry regularly, so I'm always prepared to make something.
- carrots - an excellent source of Vitamin A and good source of Vitamin C
- celery - good source of Vitamins A and C
- cucumbers - good source of Vitamin C
- tomatoes - high in Vitamins A and C and potassium and a good source of antioxidants
- any 3 varieties of fruit (in season): apricots, peaches, apples, grapes, watermelon, cantaloupe, strawberries and bananas in a bowl on the counter (I always make sure I have either cantaloupe or bananas on hand since they're both high in potassium)
- arugula (good source of potassium, some vitamin A and calcium)
- kale (great source of potassium, some calcium, vitamin B-6, and magnesium; great source of vitamins A and C)
- romaine lettuce (great source of potassium and vitamin A, and some calcium, magnesium, vitamin C, etc.)
- dark green salad lettuce (baby spring mix) - high in Vitamin A and a good source of folate
- blueberry smoothie (I used either Bolt or Naked brands)
- organic eggs (great source of omega-3, omega-6, vitamins A and D, etc.)
- Whole milk
- Silk Almond Milk (450 mg of calcium in 8-oz, more than double the calcium in cow's milk)
- deli meat (turkey, chicken and ham - I alternate)
- variety of fish (salmon and tilapia mostly)
- various cheeses (shredded and sliced: mozzarella, cheddar, parmesan, swiss, smoked gouda)
- Boar's Head pepperoni
- fresh salsa
- Variety of organic, frozen vegetables (e.g., broccoli, green beans, corn, mixed vegetables, carrots)
- large bag of frozen boneless, skinless chicken breasts or tenders
- frozen fruit (for smoothies)
- meats I purchase in bulk (steak, chuck roast, chicken, pork) and season and freeze portions of it so I can easily thaw in a day or two and use for a meal
- frozen shredded and cubed potatoes to make hashbrowns for breakfast, lunch or dinner
- portions of leftover meals (rice, pasta, sauces, bread, etc.)
- crackers (wheat and regular)
- canned beans (black beans, navy beans, garbanzo, and pinto beans)
- organic stewed tomatoes
- organic tomato sauce
- seasonings (basil, oregano; garlic, onion, and curry powders, salt, pepper, dill weed, etc.)
- white bread
- Naan bread (for making homemade pizzas)
- rice (short grain, Jasmine and parboiled)
- pasta (varieties)
- some chips (usually Cape Cod chips)
- 100% juice drinks (Izzes, orange juice, apple juice, lemonade)
- peanut butter
- local honey (great for allergies and other medicinal uses, plus great to sweeten recipes)
- olive oil
- balsamic vinegar
- vegetable oil
- gluten-free flour for when I have gluten-free friends over for a meal
- corn starch
- beef, chicken, and vegetable stock
Of course this is not an exhaustive list of things I have in my pantry, fridge, or freezer, but I just wanted to give you an idea of the kinds of things I regularly keep in stock so I can always make a meal...even if the electricity goes out! ☺
One of the other ways I behave like a merchant ship (that is, make the most cost-efficient and healthy food purchases) is, I find out when my local stores restock their shelves to ensure I get the freshest produce, check local ads for sales, get all my cookbooks out, along with the family calendar and I write down a menu for the next two weeks.
From our family's calendar, I determine whether or not I need to make a slow-cooked meal, or if I need to prepare some things the night before. I also consider all the leftover meals I will re-purpose during this two-week period. One of the things I try to do is grill lots of chicken and other meats at one time and freeze some. They make great fajitas, stews, wraps or other quick meals when you're in a bind.
Does that mean I don't think anyone should ever eat out or buy prepared frozen meals? No! We do from time to time, but I make sure I don't use it as an excuse not to cook for my family on a regular basis.
I want to be like the merchant ships. I want to bring my food from afar—which means from the grocery store (we don't have it so bad sisters) and not from the drive-thru window. I don't want this portion of my wifehood and motherhood to take a back seat to whatever else it is I want to do during my day.
Like the merchant ships, preparing and providing healthy meals for my family may take more time and effort than going through the drive-thru (like a jet airplane), but I want to do it because it's a way for me to demonstrate my love for Christ and my family by serving them well. I don't want to do just what's convenient for me at the moment. For if I do, then I'm only living a life of convenience and not one of sacrifice (Eph 5:1-2).
So, like just like the ships, I will take my time, plan out a menu, and I will bring volumes of groceries home that are delicious as well as cost effective, because my purchases will go farther than any prepared meal I might buy!
This is just another wonderful way to show honor and appreciation to my husband: by planning a menu so I don't have to throw away any food and make light of his hard work for our family. I want in every way for my darling husband to know how much I love and appreciate how he faithfully works for us. I want him to know that it's important to me that I not squander our money with something I can easily manage with lots of prayer, listening, planning, and perseverance.
Biblical Perspective, Practically Applied:
- Memorize and meditate on Proverbs 31:14.
- Call your local grocery stores to find out what day of the week they get their produce in (ours is Wednesdays, so I shop Wednesdays through Fridays, and try to avoid shopping on Monday when it’s the end of the cycle. After you’ve done this, peruse their weekly ads, and plan your menu based on the expensive food items (like meats), while keeping your family’s schedule in mind. Whatever you do, be realistic. Sandwich nights are great!
- Write or print out Proverbs 31:14 and put it on your refrigerator or pantry to help keep you motivated. Be creative and have fun with it! Make a magnet or a little plaque of it.