The administration page of our website shows us the words people use to search for a previous post or the Internet for a topic, bringing them to our website. One recent search caught my eye. The words were, “rice and beans until the debt is paid off.”
That search brought up a thought I’ve considered many times over the years. Why do we often think of ways to get out of debt? Why not employ those practices in order to prevent the debt in the first place? Why would we only consider eating rice and beans after we’ve created debt? If we feel as if “money is tight,” why not change our eating habits to stretch our grocery budget a little further so that we can buy our groceries without using a credit card?
Some friends have told me that they just don’t like beans. I understand… when I was a kid, I had trouble getting them down, too. But, in recent years, as I’ve begun to value living within my means and pursuing a healthier lifestyle, I’ve grown to appreciate the low-cost, high-nutritive value of beans and rice. And, it’s possible that how the beans are prepared affect the taste and texture. We really like the results of preparing beans according to the procedure outlined in Appendix B of A Recipe for Survival.
Since food preparation can sometimes be complicated in our household, and because time is limited with both of us working, the other reason I appreciate beans and rice is the simplicity of the dish. I can easily prepare a large batch of rice and a large batch of black beans, store them in the fridge and take beans and rice to work each day. The result is a simple, satisfying dish which fits into our budget and gives me the energy to work. An additional benefit is that I’m not eating food that will negatively affect my cholesterol numbers.
But, if I have the time to prepare Sister’s Salsa (page 155 in A Recipe for Survival) and slice up an avocado, I can dress up the beans and rice and enjoy an even tastier meal. I suspect that anyone who says beans are not interesting has not been eating this version of beans and rice! 🙂
I absolutely look forward to eating the dish pictured above. Perhaps I have developed a taste for it because of appreciating the value of a meal that is nourishing and inexpensive. And perhaps, as I noted on the previous post, since I limit my intake of processed foods and refined sugars, I actually enjoy the taste of more natural foods such as this dish.
When Brody and I were paying off many debts, I quickly saw how much a packaged item in my grocery cart affected the final cost at checkout. Yes, I would have enjoyed some treats with sugar in them, but purchasing them would not have helped me pay off the debt and the sugar would have made me less productive throughout the day. Eating certain items is not sinful. But, for me, I would have sinned against my conscience to eat what was not necessary AND would make me less healthy, especially when I owed money to someone else.
This was true a few years ago, when we were paying off a dentist bill. The dentist graciously did all the near-emergency work for us even though he knew it would take us a long time to pay it off. We were blessed to benefit from a longtime relationship between the dentist and my family. I was the third generation of our family to receive care from him. May the Lord bless Dr. Dow and his gracious office manager, Alexis, for their kindness to us.
Since Dr. Dow was not charging us interest, I was very careful what we did with the money we were spending on anything besides regular payments to him. I knew he would not begrudge us our basic necessities such as nutritious food, but I did not feel right about spending money on ice cream or fast food instead of sending a larger payment to him in a given month.
God has promised to supply our needs and He is faithful to keep all His promises. But, how often do we begin to view our desires as “needs?” Sometimes, I think we begin to believe that we are entitled to certain things, such as “Food I Like to Eat,” or “Eating Out as Often as I Want To” instead of choosing to live within the means God has provided for us. Many people in the world eat whatever they can find to stay alive. Are we inherently better than they? Do we really deserve only certain foods which we enjoy? Are we so focused on the pleasures of certain items that we are unwilling to recognize nutritious food which is available to us within our means?
Now and then, Brody and I eat food that is a treat for us. We have not completely given up buying or eating foods that contain sugar. But we do not believe that we are entitled to have whatever we want to eat, whether or not money is tight and whether or not the item will hinder our ability to accomplish what the Lord would have us accomplish. If you are struggling with your health or finances, you may find that being willing to change your tastes may help you in both categories.
Here’s another way I like to use black beans. Since it requires more time to prepare, I don’t make this as often as the dish pictured above, but once in a while, we enjoy Beyond Basic Black Beans (page 90 of A Recipe for Survival.)
The apostle Paul said he had learned the secret of being content whether he was well-fed or hungry – he knew that no matter how difficult life on earth may become, nothing could separate him from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. The trials Paul experienced were far more intense than the trying time of developing self-control to give up foods that don’t fit in the grocery budget or negatively affect our health. Paul actually went hungry; he didn’t just pass up the “food” that actually was detrimental to him.
Philippians 4:10-13 from Bible Gateway:
10 But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at last you have revived your concern for me; indeed, you were concerned before, but you lacked opportunity. 11 Not that I speak [g]from want, for I have learned to be [h]content in whatever circumstances I am. 12 I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. 13 I can do all things [i]through Him who strengthens me. 14 Nevertheless, you have done well to share with me in my affliction.