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Mary and Martha Moment: Balancing Time, Family and Food


There are a few topics – even in the kitchen! – that I am so underqualified to write about it’s not even funny. A few people have asked me about dishes/organization/cleaning up in the kitchen, and I’m very candid. I don’t have a clue. I have no advice about keeping an orderly kitchen or staying ahead of the dishes. You can quote me on this:  The dishes will always win. Just give in and work amongst the madness, then try to clean up the mess before you get into bed.

The other issue I’m not qualified to speak about, for many reasons, is time. You might have noticed that this little 4-part series of the Four Pillars of Kitchen Stewardship® took an unmentioned hiatus last week. I couldn’t figure out what I wanted to say about time and ran out of time to say what I wanted about nutrition. !! So let’s talk about time this week.

Ever say to your spouse, “If only there were EIGHT days in a week.”


“How does she do it? I think HER days have to be at least 28 hours long!”


“Who thought of 5 days to work and 2 days to rest? It should be at least 4 days on, 3 days off, don’t you think?”

Make more time in my day would be my genie-in-a-bottle wish, if that kind of thing were real. I could also wish to become more efficient or have someone else to do my tasks, but where would be the fun in that? Actually, if someone else did everything for me, I would miss the opportunity to serve my family in the kitchen. I believe that’s an important part of my vocation as a stay-at-home mother.

But how to find the balance? How to serve the family by making nutritious, frugal, often-from-scratch meals, and still have time to see the family enough to remember what they look like when they’re not eating your delicious food? How to find the low-cost buys without spending all day running all over town? With a crying baby in the van?


An answer?

Oh. You were thinking I would answer? Actually those were just rhetorical questions that I deal with every day. Sorry I got your hopes up.

In reality, I do make sure I spend time with my family every day. When I don’t, God knocks me on the head with Mommy-guilt something fierce, and I make it a point the next day to improve.

God clearly wants homemakers, mothers and fathers, whoever is primary in the kitchen, to make sure they’re balancing the food with the person. Please read Soul First, Body Second for a good reminder of the primacy of the real person over the person’s health. I need to re-read it as well, and often!

My “Time Management” To-do List

Here’s what I need to remember as I stress out about learn to let go of my need for total success and perfect nutrition in the kitchen:

  • If I am taking too long to make dinner because I miscalculated the amount of time it would take (again), getting stressed out and making everyone know it doesn’t get food on the table any faster.
  • If something isn’t going right in the kitchen, it doesn’t do any good to get worked up about it. All experiments have some failure rate. (Really? Even me?…)  Any cooking is ultimately an experiment, especially if it’s a new recipe.
  • If I serve a meal with a crabby demeanor, it doesn’t matter what’s on the plate or how power-packed the nutrients are. The family feels poorly when they leave the table because of Mommy’s attitude.
  • If I’m spending all my time making everything from scratch and not paying attention to my kiddos, it’s time for a leftovers meal, a husband-made meal (no matter what it is), or a $5 pizza.
  • If I’m going to be writing about time for my blog…I ought to be ready for the Lord to challenge me and humble me the week before.
  • Um…so I won’t be writing about time anymore! 🙂

Thanks for listening to my personal convictions and goals. As an extremely time-challenged individual who has taken on a new endeavor (this blog) sort of recently, I’m still working on finding the balance of the whole life: kitchen, computer, kids, husband, friends, laundry, clean house, finances…Anyone else’s mental to-do list look that long? And what is leisure time, anyway?

Your To-Think-About List

In case you’re in a similar spot (although I hope you all can balance everything just great!), here are some practical ideas to balance time, nutrition, and money in the kitchen (you didn’t think I would just go on a diatribe about myself without giving some advice, did you?):

  • Incorporate children into the cooking, no matter how young
    • Click here to see my son helping make potato salad at two years old.
    • My daughter hangs out in the sling to watch me cook sometimes (today she ate the raw potato French fry I let her hold!).
  • Give children kitchen chores and teach them the proper way to do them.
    • Setting and clearing the table are perfect introductory chores, even if it’s just, “Please get the salad dressings from the fridge.”
    • Older kids can load and start the dishwasher and help with dishes, as well as be responsible for meal prep like washing vegetables, cutting lettuce, making dressings, etc.
  • Talk as you grocery shop about good deals, healthy foods, etc. Make it a learning experience for the little ones.
    • My son, and many kids I know, already are wise enough to ask, “Is it on sale?” if they want something at the store! (Or even, when he’s lucky, “But Mom, there’s a yellow sign. It’s ON SALE…so we can buy it, right?”)
  • Be willing to pfiner_things_fridayut off dinner for five minutes to push children on a swing in the backyard.
  • Use dishes twice as often as possible! I do it with my granola bar recipe, as well as random things in my refrigerator and freezer.
  • Find as many timesavers as you can for make-from-scratch recipes. I promise to include them often in my posts!
  • Freeze leftovers for quick and easy meals later. I am loving this in the summer so I can be outside longer!
  • Make healthy food a family affair. We went organic strawberry picking last Saturday, even though my sister-and-brother-in-law were visiting just to see us. It was a blast for all! We all got a kick out of the fact that my son had two years’ experience strawberry picking over his aunt and uncle. He enjoyed showing them the ropes. It was at least as fun as going to the zoo, and much tastier afterward! (Have you read how I preserve strawberries?)

Just barely one year old, and her third time in the strawberry patch. The first two were last year, and she didn't get to partake...
Just barely one year old, and her third time in the strawberry patch. The first two were last year, and she didn’t get to partake…
You can't actually see how serious the amount of strawberry on this girl is. It was intense.
You can’t actually see how serious the amount of strawberry on this girl is. It was intense.
Teaching the aunt and uncle how to pick...see the "supervisor" posture?
Teaching the aunt and uncle how to pick…see the “supervisor” posture?

See you next week for the last installment of the Four Pillars of Kitchen Stewardship®:  Nutrition (that is, if I have time!).

Read the others:


I am pleased to participate in Finer Things Friday at The Finer Things in Life, where Amy once again reminds us what is important. (And it’s not time, OR nutrition!)  Also, since I am thankful that the Lord has humbled me in my time weakness once again, and hopeful that He will give me strength to follow that list I posted above, I am participating in Thankful Thursday at Women Taking a Stand and Hopeful Friday at The House in the Roses. Please also visit Homemaker Mondays at 11th Heaven’s Homemaking Haven.

Unless otherwise credited, photos are owned by the author or used with a license from Canva or Deposit Photos.

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22 thoughts on “Mary and Martha Moment: Balancing Time, Family and Food”

  1. There are some very good tips here. I also find it really beneficial when planning to refer to the family calendar in the kitchen. This ensures that me and my family don’t double book ourselves.
    I write more about family time management tips at
    All the best

    Kell’s last blog post..Jun 25, Time Management Tips to Save an Hour a Day

    1. Good point – when planning meals, it’s important to think about what’s happening that day so you can have an appropriate amount of time to prepare the food.

  2. You are so right about planning ahead and making a list, Katie. A to-do list is a life-saver. Meal planning really helps because you know that you have to make the buns for Tuesday’s turkey burgers and you can do it ahead of time. I’m not consistent at planning, but I’ve added it to my prayers and God is providing inspiration. God finds the time for us if we do a little work of preparation ourselves. He provides willing helpers in our children, too. Coops (with regular deliveries) can help with the “running around to forage food syndrome” especially if you can be the coordinator and have deliveries made to your house (or close by at a church). Persevere….you share some very inspiring tidbits.

    1. I am with you 100%! Funny that this Monday’s mission is back to meal planning. I would drown if I didn’t meal plan, I think. I don’t know how people do it without a plan. We wouldn’t eat anything w/o one!

  3. Pingback: Finer Things Friday: Wheat Harvest : The Finer Things in Life

  4. This is a very a propos post for me. I discovered your website a few weeks ago. A friend just gave me a book “The Better Part” for my birthday… the phrases “Martha and Mary Moments” and “the Better Part” have been playing in the background of my thoughts. As I am trying to get in a “groove” with domestic life and figure out how I am going to balance everything I want to do… I have been stressing and worrying about how I will do it all. Then as I was cleaning the kitchen today, I realized that God was speaking to me in those repeating phrases: First of all, I must always put Him first in my life, and that He will guide me on my journey if I stay close to Him.

    God is good and He will provide! I appreciate the PP who also commented about needing humility… I think I could use some more of that too. (b/c I’m always thinking I’ll *eventually* be able to do it all – based on my own merits.)

  5. Michelle @ Find Your Balance

    I can’t speak about having kids involved, but I know that my best nights with my husband are when we cook together. That way it goes faster and we spend more time together! Usually we cook twice a week, making enough to eat leftovers the rest of the week 🙂

    Michelle @ Find Your Balance’s last blog post..Now, what to do with those sprouts…?

  6. Thank you for reminding me that I can take a short few to spend time with the kids while making a meal. I get so wrapped up in making it.

  7. Amy @ Finer Things

    I was feeling the stress when cooking dinner the other day. It was taking me FOREVER to make skillet enchiladas because I had to make my tortillas, and make the enchilada sauce, and make the refried beans before assembling everything.

    Will definitely use a different plan next time. Food doesn’t taste as good when you’re stressed about it!

    Amy @ Finer Things’s last blog post..Finer Things Friday: Wheat Harvest

    1. I totally agree. I think in your case, I would recommend two meals:
      Meal no. 1: plain old tacos with homemade refried beans (double batch) and tortillas. Make a double batch of tortilla dough (or triple) the night before.
      Meal no 2, a few days later: use your refried beans and tortillas for your enchiladas and the process will be so much shorter.

      I try not to make too many homemade ingredients that ALSO have to be assembled into something else on the same day if I can help it. It almost feels like you’re making dinner twice that way!

  8. You sure put a lot of thought into this! I’ve been making to do lists for a while but my problem is that I don’t always look at them!

  9. also, it’s interesting to note that EVERY mom I talk to feels overwhelmed, even the ones who have housekeepers and other hired help. I haven’t met anyone yet who feels like life is a breeze (or will admit it at least)

    1. I think that’s encouraging…or sad, I’m not sure. I wonder what people 100 years ago felt like, as far as stress level?

  10. I like the pause button idea, too. . . . . this post made me think. For so long I’ve thought that what God has been wanting me to learn is to work harder, longer, smarter, more efficiently, and to an extent, that’s true. But upon reflection and recalling my main flaw (PRIDE) maybe He really wants me to learn HUMILITY. That I can’t do everything that I want, and to do the best I can with the situation I’ve been given instead of grumbling about my husband never being home and not having family around (uh oh see there I go again). And I’m gaining a greater respect for my late mother who worked 3 jobs with 4 kids and did it alone. We are really so blessed and I need to work on my gratitude and humility more than anything.

    God bless all you mommies who are trying your best !

  11. Kelly the Kitchen Kop

    Hi Katie,

    Here’s what I say all the time: “I want to hit the ‘pause button’ on life!” In a perfect world I’d hit the pause button, get ALL my work done, get caught up on sleep, etc., and then turn life back on so I can play with the kids more or read a good book or whatever! Ah, it’s nice to dream…

    Also, we enjoyed strawberry picking the other day, too. I didn’t dare ask this until I left, but…have you ever seen a snake when picking strawberries there????????? Just curious.


    Kelly the Kitchen Kop’s last blog post..Getting Your Kids to Eat More Veggies – I Need Your Help! (Real Food Wednesday)

    1. Ah…I’ll dream with you. Shucks..dinner isn’t done yet. !! I thought it was funny that your post this week was about a similar issue.

      We only picked at that farm once, but I didn’t see any snakes. Did you?? We picked at Krupp the last two years (no snakes there, either). Don’t tell me you’re a city girl? It would probably just be a garter snake if there was one… 😉

  12. Thanks again Katie!! So much good stuff on here! I find helpful things every time I visit your blog.
    Your strawberry pics are adorable!

    Shannon’s last blog post..Nursing Bracelet- 6mm Jade Beads

  13. making lists is my favorite!! Thanks for sharing – Happy TT!

    lauren’s last blog post..Thankful Thursday: The Word of God

  14. i love making to-do list. i actually do that almost everyday. i want to make sure i don’t miss anything. i enjoyed your photos very much. oh i love strawberries. yum! God bless you. happy TT.

    Pia’s last blog post..Thankful Thursday

  15. Was glad to be able to stop by today. Thanks for sharing your grateful heart with us today on Thankful Thursday! -blessings, Laurie

    Laurie’s last blog post..THANKFUL THURSDAY…Your Father’s eyes

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