Eating well on a budget
Authors offer ways to think about food during a time of increasing prices
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Most grocery shoppers know the U.S. dollar is shrinking. Still, two headlines from March 5 bring that home. First, the New York Post’s announcement, “Food prices reach record highs, skyrocket by 20.7 percent across globe.” Second, cbsnews.com’s report, “Inflation hits new 40-year high, surging 7.9%.” And these aren’t just abstract percentage points; they’re changing shoppers’ behaviors. A month later on April 4, The Wall Street Journal pointed out, “With Inflation Not Letting Up, Shoppers Cut Back on Staples.”
A better response? Craft a new and smarter budget with Christian author Jessi Fearon’s book, Getting Good With Money. In her journey out of debt, wife and mom Fearon made many common financial mistakes, including “owning” a vehicle she couldn’t afford and assuming debt was just part of life. Here, she equips others to rise above similar misconceptions with a comprehensive plan to organize one’s financial life, from ditching credit cards to saving for retirement.
Granted, it’s a familiar approach, but Fearon gives it her own spin. For instance, she outlines stumbling blocks based on personality types and addresses marriage problems caused by money stress, with tips to improve spousal communication. Busy moms may especially appreciate her chapter on how to stick to a grocery budget, complete with stocking a pantry and creating a meal plan. She also points to websites that can help readers earn cash back (without incurring credit card debt) such as Rakuten.com and FetchRewards.com.
Cash-strapped shoppers willing to change their eating habits might consider Robert Farrar Capon’s 1969 book, The Supper of the Lamb. Be warned; this isn’t a step-by-step guide to cheap eats. True, readers who spend a few hours in the kitchen with the Episcopal priest will gain a repertoire of inexpensive meals. But they’ll also learn to eat like older generations, feasting, fasting, and eating “ferially” (economically, or frugally but with joy) in between. Capon writes, “Lamb for Eight Persons Four Times is not simply a recipe. It is a way of life.” And his way focuses, above all, on savoring God and His creation, pointing to the final Supper of the Lamb above. A final warning—Capon isn’t the typical liberal priest, but he does stray theologically at times (e.g., accepting Darwinism).
While Capon offers centuries-old bread recipes, some readers might appreciate Peter Reinhart’s newer Bread Revolution. In that 2014 book, Reinhart explores how sprouted ancient grains (like spelt and Khorasan) and seeds (like flax and chia) can make homemade bread healthier and easier to make. His recipes—including muffins, pancakes, and sourdough loaves—include tips to help anyone get more from their grains, but they offer the most savings compared to store-bought alternative-flour breads.
Of course, man lives not by bread alone, and the new book Sheltering Mercy: Prayers Inspired by the Psalms by Ryan Whitaker Smith and Dan Wilt will encourage readers to dig deeper into the first 75 psalms. Wisely, Smith and Wilt don’t attempt to replace or rewrite the Psalms. Rather, they complement the original texts with conversational, poetic prayers that grew out of their own prayer times with the Psalms. Smith and Wilt also bring in images and language from other parts of the Bible—especially the New Testament—giving the book a Christocentric focus.
As 2022 rolls on, inflation may continue to pick Americans’ pocketbooks—and headlines continue to mourn that fact. But Christians can rest in the “sheltering mercy” of our Great Shepherd, praying along with Smith and Wilt,
in Your presence I lack no good thing.
You are the shepherd of my soul,
guiding me to places of rest,
far from noise and clamor,
a meadow of the heart—
tall grass against an azure sky;
cooling waters at my side.
Lead me, Lord.
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