If you know me, you know that food and I have a very weird relationship.IMG_8233.JPG

Let me clarify. I LOVE FOOD. But not all food loves me back. Just before my senior year of high school, I found out that me and gluten do not get along. So no more donuts for Lauren.

I also took four antibiotics per day just to keep my digestive system working correctly. Don’t worry, it was very physician approved, and I didn’t grow immune to them in the process. I also took two types of medication for acid reflux. Next thing I knew, I was a senior in college, married, and realized that I would have to start paying for my own medicine since I was #adulting hardcore.

Now I am about to go somewhere that may make you roll your eyes, but hear me out. I was reading 1 Corinthians one day when I ran across a verse that most people know, most try to live by, and I often forget.

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

1 Corinthians 10:31

Most of the time I tend to skip over that first part. When I think about living to the glory of God, I think about the job I choose to have, how I might raise my kids one day, what kind of conversations I have, how often I share the gospel. You know? The real Christian stuff.

But the point of this verse is not to remind us to give God glory in the big stuff alone. It specifically points out the smallest, most average parts of our day: eating and drinking. Paul is beckoning the Corinthians to consider the Lord in everything they do. Before they put food in their mouths, he asks them to consider the glory of their creator. Before they take a drink, he asks them to give thanks to He who poured the water out of Himself and into our world to give it life.

While I read this passage, I thought about my weird relationship with food. I thought about how my body needed the assistance of man-made pills to function properly. I began to wonder if there was anything I could do to help it function without the use of my medicine.

So I began my mission to play with food, to get back to the most natural kind of eating that I could. I began to pray that God would reveal to me how to best take care of my body.

No, I am not saying that being on medicine was sinful. God has provided people with the ability to discover and create medicine to preserve lives everywhere and keep people from living day-to-day in pain. However, by learning how to control my body’s reaction to foods, I believe I have been able to be a better steward over my body and my money, and I have a better love of the food that God put on this earth when He created it.

Maybe you want to do the same. I would encourage you that everyone has a different body. I can’t eat wheat or any gluten and dairy does not sit well with me. But I wouldn’t have known that had I not experimented with going off of those things for an extended period of time.

It is not a diet. It is a lifestyle–or better yet, a food-style. (Oh yeah, all the corn).

Food does not have to be our enemy. Think about how beautiful and glorious it is that God created us with a mouth to taste. He didn’t have to. We could only be able to eat for energy. Talk about common grace. Let’s use this grace we have been given through food to worship, be better stewards, and glorify our King.

MAKE GROCERY LISTS. And stick to them.

This is the most important thing I could ask you to do. The weeks that I stick best to my food-style are the weeks that I have only the foods in my house that I need. If I allow myself to indulge at home, I will binge all the sweets I can find. My sweet treats are eaten out, that way I have to justify paying more for them and cannot get my hands on them any time my tongue wants something sweet.

I always write the meal we will be having each day on my google calendar then add all the ingredients we will need to a list on my phone using the Evernote app. I also make strict budgets for each week, which keeps me from buying snacky-type foods just because they look good.

Keep reading to see how I afford healthy foods on a serious budget!

Shop the perimeter of the grocery store.

I am a little late to the game on this one, but I never thought about this until a vlogger, Sarah’s Day, suggested it on her channel! And man, has it changed the way I shop. After you create your list, separate it into things that can be found on the perimeter (product, meats, dairy, frozen stuff) and things that will be in the aisles. If you have done your job seeking to stay with foods in their most natural state, you should have very few trips to make into the aisles. You may need to venture in for things like oil, peanut butter, salsa, coffee, or sparkling water (anyone else?!), but hopefully not much besides that!

Go into the aisles only for those things. Don’t look side to side. Don’t explore. If you have a shopping buddy with you, send them in, and tell them to only come back with what you asked.

Consider cutting out certain foods for 2-3 weeks at a time.

ACS_0012.JPGIf you want to go really hardcore, I suggest trying out the Whole 30 diet. This is a diet that has you strictly cut out all sugar, grains, dairy, and more for 30 days. You then add each back at the end day-by-day to see if your body reacts negatively to them. You can learn all about it at this link.

If you don’t want to cut out all these things at once, you can do what I did and go one at a time. I learned about my gluten intolerance by simply cutting gluten out of my diet. If you do this, you cannot cheat. Like seriously. Don’t do it.

It takes a while for our bodies to expel all the toxins from these foods. If you just try eating less, it will essentially do nothing.

I put off going gluten free for as long as I could. I was terrified of having to cut that large of a food group out of my diet completely that I psyched myself out of it. As soon as I did, however, I realized that I had been living with symptoms I didn’t even know were there. Gluten was making me perpetually exhausted, bloated, and keeping me from being able to enjoy the process of eating.

The good news is that the world is learning more and more about food allergies and intolerances. We are beginning to see the harmful effects of our crazy food processing. Don’t skip this step because you are afraid you’ll never be able to eat a food again. You may miss out on the glories God has given us in the ability to enjoy food.

Rethink snacking.

I don’t know about y’all, but when I want to snack, I don’t want to spend time preparing my snack, and I sure don’t want to clean dishes after I’m done. I want to grab it and start eating it now. This is why I buy almonds instead of chips and cut up my veggies and fruits as soon as I get home from the grocery.

Don’t break the bank.

Now the age-old question remains: how the heck does anyone afford to eat healthily?!

It is a frustration for me too. Especially depending on the grocery store you go to. It is absolutely ridiculous that perishable produce is so much more expensive than food that is processed so deeply that it will never go bad. Can I let you in on a secret? Those unhealthy foods are so cheap because they are not made of genuine substance. There are chemicals everywhere where they are produced and they are injected with things that will make them stay good for longer.

It is much more convenient. It is much cheaper. Yet there is a balance to be had when considering this. These are the things Austin and I do to save money and afford to eat healthy on a serious budget:

  1. We shop at Aldi. I know Aldi has gotten itself a bad rap before, but try going back! Most of their stores are currently getting redone. If you can, go as soon as they open because that is when they restock their produce. You’ll be much more likely to find awesome produce at an even more awesome price this way.
  2. We don’t eat out. For the most part, I cook every night. Admittedly, that was much harder when I was working a full-time job. If both you and your spouse work, consider taking turns after work each day. When we were able to cut our eating out in half or more, we saved tons of money, transferred that to our grocery budget, and still saved about $100 each month. Try it out! It’ll be challenging, but so worth it.

Try out these recipes:

This last week, I spent some time compiling my favorite recipes and creating a page on this blog to store them! Check it out, try them out, and then tell me how you like them in the comments below!

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