I want food, cheap and fast

Sunday, 9 June 2013

Saturday afternoon saw me bravely (or stupidly) heading to a place I always swear I will avoid at the weekends: the Supermarket. To do a Big Shop. Supermarkets on a peaceful weeknight are fine with me; supermarkets on a Saturday turn me from a patient and loving Christian to a horrendous, hypocritical beast, head full of thoughts such as I wonder if it would hurt, couple bickering over cheese in the middle of the aisle, if I just rammed my trolley right in the middle of you and simultaneously being really annoyed at the woman inching her trolley closer and closer to my back and tutting because I'm apparently taking too long to choose pasta.

But it wasn't too bad, and before I knew it we were queuing, and I was biting my lip as I watched the prices of each item pop up on the till display. I planned for this shop: I knew what meals I wanted to cook over the next couple of weeks, so I knew that each item would be used and not wasted. I'd made sure to make the meals as healthy-but-cheap as possible, but still splurged a little bit (ice lollies and strawberries ... mmm). This was the kind of shop you do, though, when you've literally run out of everything, and the only things that remain in your cupboard are an almost-empty packet of rice and one lone tin of tomatoes. No cleaning products, either, so they all went on the list.

Sure enough, I (almost) gasped when she read out the total, and my heart sank as the reality hit home again: food shopping is getting more and more expensive.

My Mum, my sisters and I often bemoan the increasing prices of things that used to be much cheaper (potatoes, for example) and today as I researched it, it seems I'm not alone. I read this article today (whilst 'researching for blog') and found myself really annoyed at it. Why is is that families feel they are 'struggling' on 24k? Why are people moaning about the lack of interesting food when I know full well you can cook nice food on a budget if you try hard enough? Why are these people complaining when they earn more than us? Why is it my sister has to struggle as a single mother, working until she's exhausted and skipping meals so that my niece can eat healthy lunches and go to Brownies to improve her confidence, and these people are moaning because they can't afford expensive crisps or named-brand baked beans? My 'judgey pants' went right on and my level head came right off, and this continued when I read up on the amount of children in the UK (3.6 million of them) living in poverty, right now, having to rely on breakfast clubs to eat a proper meal in the mornings because their parents can't afford to feed them, even though they're working long, long days and earning next to nothing in return.

Snobbery, my brain said, it's middle-class snobbery. The more I read up on it, the more I found that higher income families (even families earning up to 50k a year) are struggling with the shock of rising food prices and are wondering how they're going to cope with it. My thrifty side screams 'learn to cook, then! Feed your families proper food instead of expensive pre-prepared stuff! Switch supermarkets! Shop around! Buy own-brand stuff! It's NOT ROCKET SCIENCE!'

And a still, small voice in my head says, 'who are you to judge?'

I love that about God - His ability to disarm whatever self-righteous argument I have, to make me step off of my high horse and return to what is basic and true about life.

Because, of course, He's right. I do believe it's wrong that children aren't taught the basics of cooking and budgeting anymore, at home or in school. I do believe it's wrong that supermarkets trick us with crazy price changes from week to week. I do think it's wrong that healthy eating and nutritional education are not given high priority. I do think that things need to change for the health of our nation.


I do think that by moaning about rising food prices when I have the luxury of affording all those healthy things in the picture above, I am just as bad as the middle-class families that I was ranting about a moment ago, and that I don't get to decide when someone is well off enough not to complain anymore.

I do think that everyone has individual circumstances and shouldn't be judged for not being educated enough in a certain area (for example, food preparation), and I do understand that families have to work ridiculously long hours now and might not have the same amount of time that we do to put into cooking and planning meals.

I do think that God's grace is available for everyone. I do know that Jesus offered grace and forgiveness to everyone He met, not just the outwardly 'righteous', but all kinds of people.

I do understand that I can be pretty hot tempered sometimes and quick to jump on something I feel strongly about.

I do think that I can use my passion to see people understand and prepare healthier food in a good way, and not just in a ranty-pants way.

So. My conclusion?

Food is important. It's important we look after our bodies to keep them working properly. However, it's not everything. For me, God's love that is freely offered to me and has been evident in my life, is everything. I have to consider everything - everything, all the things I feel strongly about, sexism, racism, human trafficking, corrupt political systems, the power of the media - in light of the fact that He loves me and that changes everything. It should change everything. The way I walk. The way I talk. The grace I extend people. Not just the people that 'deserve' it from my point of view- not just the children in poverty - but for wealthier families too, who are just human, and just as deserving of that love, too.

I enjoyed my food tonight, roasted vegetables, salad leaves and couscous. I am blessed by it.

I count my blessings, swallow my pride, and try in the future to be a little more humble.

1 comment:

  1. This is such a beautiful, honest, thought-provoking piece, thank you!!! It has certainly challenged me on the way that I look at certain things xx


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