Thursday, January 15, 2015

A Year's Worth of Food...Bread from Heaven!

Since I now know my location for my vegetable garden (read Let There Be Light), the next thing I need to tackle is what I want to plant  (the easy part) and how much my family actually consumes (the not so easy part).  My goal is to be able to have enough of each vegetable that we can live off of while they are in season, and then freeze, can or store enough for the rest of the year.  Right now I'm not deciding what will fit in my garden.  I'm just deciding what I would do if I had all the space I wanted.  I can prioritize and reduce later, if need be.

To start, I went through many gardening books, scoured the internet and read old monthly meal plans to figure out which foods we ate.  My list reads as follows:

Potatoes, carrots, garlic, beets, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, lettuce, spinach, pepper, tomato, peas, beans, cucumber, zucchini, pumpkin and butternut squash.

That was simple enough...

Now, to figure out how much your family eats per year can get trickier.  Try and think of it on a weekly basis.  Sure, some weeks my family has no broccoli.  But some weeks I make broccoli soup and go through a ton!  Just think of your average week and write that number down.

In case you are comparing your family to mine: there are five of us (two adults and a six, three and one and a half year old).  We eat about the amount of four adults, unless someone is having a growth spurt, in which case we eat as much as a small army! is my breakdown based on old monthly meal plans and my many years of cooking for my crew:)  It should also be noted that for us lunch is whatever dinner was the night before, so if I say we eat two meals of green beans a week, that means two dinners and two lunches.

I'll start with one average week

Potatoes: two meals @ 8 potatoes ==  16 potatoes
Carrots: 4 pounds 
Garlic: 1 to 2 cloves per meal == 10 cloves
Beets: whatever fits in the garden (I'm pickling them for my dad--I've never had them)
Cabbage: 1/4 head
Broccoli:  1 meal per week @ 2 heads == 2 heads
Cauliflower: Same as broccoli == 2 heads
Kale: I would like a steady stream of this, but also plan on doing a winter garden, so I only need enough for the summer.  We use this mostly in shakes so we go through about 4-5 leaves a week.
Lettuce:  This doesn't store well.  We use this for shakes and salads so I'm thinking about a gallon freezer bag worth a week ==1 gallon bag
Spinach: Same as lettuce except this, I will freeze for use all year== 1 gallon bag
Pepper: 2 meals a week @ 3 peppers per meal == 6 peppers
Tomato:  2 quarts of tomato sauce (5 pounds of tomato per quart) plus 4 tomatoes per week during growing season == 10 lbs canning tomato and 4 tomatoes during the growing season
Peas == 3/4 pound
Beans == 3/4 pound
Cucumber == 1 quart of dill pickles per week (2 pounds of cucumber per quart) plus 2 cucumbers per week during growing season
Zucchini == 1 per month
Pumpkin (for pies and breads, not jack o' lanterns)  == 1 per month
Butternut Squash == 1 per month

Now, I can just multiply each by 52 weeks to get how much is consumed per year:

Potatoes: 832 potatoes
Carrots: 208 pounds
Garlic: 520 cloves
Beets: whatever fits in the garden
Cabbage: 13 + 2 extra == 15 head
Broccoli: 104 heads
Cauliflower: 104 heads
Kale: 260 leaves
Lettuce:  1 gallon bag per week  during growing season
Spinach: 52 gallon bags
Pepper: 312 Peppers
Tomato:  520 lbs + 4 per week during growing season
Peas == 39 lbs
Beans == 39 lbs
Cucumber == 104 lbs + 2 per week during season
Zucchini == 52 zucchini
Pumpkin (for pies and breads, not jack o' lanterns)  == 52 pumpkins
Butternut Squash == 52 squash

Wow!  Look at that list, or look at your own!  Our life certainly revolves around food.  It has to!  Without it, we can't survive.

Exodus chapter sixteen verse four reads:
Then the Lord said to Moses, “I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. In this way I will test them and see whether they will follow my instruction. 

Now, the people God was speaking of were wandering the through the desert.  Finding food was difficult, to put it mildly.  The Lord heard them and knew their troubles.  He decided to lift that burden from them by supplying all the food they needed to survive.  In the mornings they would go out and collect all that they needed. God would supply each day.  He gave them specific instructions on what to collect.  He even told them on Saturday to collect double, so they could rest on Sunday!  What an awesome God!  

Did they follow these guidelines set out by the all knowing God?  Absolutely not!  They tried to collect extra and stockpile for the next day, not trusting that God would provide for them and sustain them day in and day out.  The following day the old bread from heaven had turned rancid, moldy and inedible.  God wanted so desperately for them to trust him.  He made them rely on Him and Him alone for their most basic of needs, showing them that trying to sustain themselves was hopeless.  Hopeless!  He rained bread from heaven down on them each night for not a day, not a week, not a year, but FORTY years!  

At first I think of how ridiculous they were to not trust God.  Surely if I was in their shoes I would trust God.  After all, His words and actions proved to them time and time again that HE would take care of them.  If God said, "Katie, don't worry about your garden, I will put vegetables at your door every morning" I would listen!  But honestly, I can walk a few blocks and pick up green beans, pumpkin puree or tomato sauce from the store.  I can turn on my faucet and get water or pop a vitamin and know that I'll survive.  This wouldn't take the same leap of faith that these desert wanderers needed.  

What do I and so many others stockpile?  Worry, anxiety and fear.  God has promised peace from our anxiety, worry and fear just like he promised bread from heaven to those who so desperately needed it.  

1 Peter 5:7
Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.

We are horrible at this!  And just like the day old bread from heaven, our worries, fears and anxiety becomes rancid, hurting us in the process!  Worried---let's not sleep, that will help?  Anxious about a doctor appointment, let's binge eat---that's healthy?  Fearful of the future---think of the worst that could happen and dwell on that!  We can control what causes our fear, anxiety and worry no better than those wanderers could control the supply of food that they needed.  

Only HE who can rain bread from heaven can rain peace from heaven. But we have to stop stockpiling it on ourselves and trust that each day, each second of everyday, God is taking care of our every need!

So, while I am making a plan for stockpiling food for myself and family, I'm going to give great attempt at handing my stockpile of fears, worries and anxiety to God, and accepting the peace that is my own "bread from heaven"!

God Bless! 

Click to view the next step in my gardening adventure: How Much to Plant.

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