In Praise of Leftovers and Nutty Buddies

Renee Ann Smith —  June 5, 2011 — 52 Comments

“And the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over.” Whenever I read this verse I think that Jesus and my grandmother had a lot in common. She, too, was big on leftovers.

I'm fifth down on the right: the small blonde child facing the camera

As a senior in high school, I shared many midday meals with my grandmother. I took only a few classes and finished my day by noon. Since she lived near the school, I’d leave early and do lunch with her and my mom, who arrived during her office lunch break.

My grandmother rarely served us sandwiches and chips. To her, that was a snack. Nannie’s typical midday meal included a hot main dish, assorted vegetable side dishes—stewed tomatoes was my favorite—homemade biscuits, dessert, and cheese. That was just a noon meal. You can imagine a Sunday dinner. Or a holiday feast.

Where do leftovers come in? Well, Nannie wasn’t as intent on using up leftovers as she was on creating them. For her, the sign of a well-thought-out meal was leaving behind plenty of leftovers to testify to the bounty we’d enjoyed.

Creating leftovers also made life easier . . .

Before microwaves and high efficiency ovens and precooked and instant versions of things, cooking took much more time. Leftovers guaranteed that the family could eat well for several meals while the woman of the house spent her energy elsewhere. Years ago, my grandmother threw all her leftovers into soups, which she kept simmering in a huge pot on her stove. Anyone who stopped by–milkman, mailman, gossipy neighbor–was treated to a cup. That was the only way she could serve hot food instantly.

Another plus for visiting Nannie’s when you were hungry: she used to run a general store. (Picture Ike Godsey’s shop on The Waltons.) Because she believed in keeping more than enough on hand, my grandmother had a seemingly endless supply of Nutty Buddy Ice Cream Cones, Necco Wafers, Birch Beer soda, and every Hersheys chocolate bar they made back then. All free for the taking for the kids and grandkids!

No wonder so many of us viewed wherever Nannie was as the place we’d end up filled to the brim, the place we’d never go away from hungry.

These thoughts filter through my mind when I read verses about Jesus’ provision of food and drink while He was here on earth, like this example from Mark 14 . . .

As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.”

Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.”

“We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered.

“Bring them here to me,” he said. And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children.

Jesus didn’t limit His provision to what was needed for His followers to “just get by.” He didn’t do snacks. He was far more generous than that. He filled His people to the brim so they wouldn’t be hungry again for a long, long time. And He made sure there were leftovers. Why?

  • Maybe to reward the hard-working disciples
  • Maybe as evidence of what had occurred
  • Maybe to fix a picture in our minds of His ability to be all that we need and more to live victoriously today . . .

And for all eternity . . . “But here on this mountain, God-of-the-Angel-Armies will throw a feast

For all the people of the world,
A feast of the finest foods,
A feast with vintage wines,
A feast of seven courses,
A feast lavish with gourmet desserts.
And here on this mountain,
God will banish the pall of doom
Hanging over all peoples,
The shadow of doom
Darkening all nations.
Yes, he’ll banish death forever.
And God will wipe
The tears from every face.
He’ll remove every sign of disgrace
From his people, wherever they are.
Yes! God says so!”~from Isaiah 25~

Maranatha! I’m thankful for what we have to look forward to—aren’t you?

Renee Ann Smith

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I teach literature in a Christian high school by day and write inspirational fiction by night. I love to share heart-touching quotes and stories here on my blog. So glad you stopped by!

52 responses to In Praise of Leftovers and Nutty Buddies

  1. Lynn Macpherson June 5, 2011 at 8:39 am

    What a neat story! It brings back memories of my Grandmothers. Jesus really does provide all we need and as much as we need. Thanks for the reminder.


  2. My gramma was much the same way – always had stew going! She loved to make big meals, now I have a better understanding as to why.

    (Thanks for linking up to Tailspin – following back on GFC & FB)

  3. Yea for leftovers! I’m so glad my husband doesn’t object to them. It does leave me to use my energies elsewhere.
    I like the way you tie this in to the story of the loaves and fishes. Recently when we studied this story in a Bible class, I realized how like God it is to provide abundantly and even more than we really need at that moment. He is so generous!
    Thanks for reminding me of that.

  4. Beautiful story. Fits right in with what I’ve been reading a lot of lately – about Fishes and Loaves and the multiplication of our gifts once we surrender them to Christ.

    Thanks for the visit and comment today!!

  5. I love what you did with this topic, Renee! You reeled me in with that first photo; I had to look twice to make sure it wasn’t our family and my grandmother. I feel the generosity of Jesus as I read this post! And the pic of the eternal table settings is so creative. Thank you!

  6. What wonderful memories you have. I love the scripture with the picture,it’s so perfect.

  7. I love your grandma story. We never lived close to either of my grandparents as we moved to FL when I was 9. We did see them when we visited them in MI but there were many miles between us. They would come to Fl to visit but it isn’t the same as being near like you were. What a blessing and special memories those leftovers gave you. Smile.

    Yes Jesus provides our needs and many times we are not even aware of the way he takes care of us. Your post is a wonderful reminder of how much we are loved and cared for by our Lord.

    Thank you for your visit today.
    Blessings, Jeanne

    • You’re right, Jeanne–it was such a blessing to be near my grandparents. I’m sorry you missed that! But I love how Jesus fills in for any lack we might have in the family and friends department. As you said, He cares for us. Thanks for the visit!

  8. What a blessing your Nannie was! I love hearing stories like this.

  9. I love the first picture of you as a little girl among all those grown ups 🙂 You have been blessed with a dear Nannie who has given you such wonderful and warm memories. As children you must have felt like you were in Heaven on earth with all those sweet treats you had access too! 🙂 I love how you have tied in your life experiences to Jesus’ message of the loaves and fishes! So insightful and a lovely reminder that He can provide for all our needs! Thank you for sharing such a beautiful post on NOBH! God bless!

  10. What a delight, reading this and visualizing the love and camaradarie around your grandmother’s table.
    But what really stopped me short? … Seeing “birch beer”! My father originally hailed from the Boston area and introduced me to that delight as a child. Trouble was, we had to motor from New Mexico to buy a case, which would have to last the year.

  11. Loved the family photo. It reminded me of holiday dinners at my aunt’s house with all the family gathered around the table. Those were such carefree, wonderful days!

    I like the lesson of leftovers and how God supplies more than enough to meet our needs.
    Mmmmm. Good thoughts.

    Thanks for stopping by. Blessings,

  12. What precious memories you have of your grandmother. Thank you for sharing them with us. I would like an endless supply of Hershey bars. 🙂 And nutty buddy cones are close behind!

    Jesus doesn’t do snacks when He hands out our blessings. That’s a beautiful thought and one I’ll hang on to. Love where you took this post.


  13. Your grandmother sounds like an amazing woman.

  14. I dearly enjoyed reading your post today about your Nannie. I had a grandmother very similar and I think of her often, especially at noon!! I was just reading that Bible story to my granddaughters this morning. I am so thankful for the Bread of Life!!

  15. Nice story. I am checking out your site from the blog hop. If you’d like check out mine at

  16. What a blessing to have a grandmother that loved to cook for her family!! It’s so different these days with everyone and their busy lives.

  17. Your post brought back some sweet memories today. I had an aunt just like your grandmother. I can even smell and taste a delisious chocolate cake. I wish I had the recipe. Anyway, I also loved your thoughts on Christ. This was a lovely post.
    Also, thanks for commenting on my blog Living Waters.
    Blessings to you!

  18. You have given me a different view on that passage of scripture. Our God is a God that goes beyond our needs.

  19. wow…THAT was awesome…I was riveted and moved! What a blessing this was on my lunchbreak! He provides so much more than leftovers! fantastic!

  20. This made me think of my mother. We were always amazed how she could whip up a meal out of almost nothing in no time at all. It probably was a result of growing up during the depression and being creative. Your pictures make such good illustrations. Thank you for sharing.

  21. Enjoyed this very much!! My Nonny was so much the same way! This brought beautiful memories!! Love the scripture and pic tie in. Was blessed here today!

  22. Renee! This is perfect!!! I am SO glad we met (Wordfilled Wed.)!
    He is the bread of Life…anyone who comes to me will not hunger! Praise God for Him being our Manna, our fullness comes from him and not snacks!

    Also as a young mom, I really appreciate this post about how your Nannie would spend time to cook a whole lot. I struggle with cooking meals because it feels like a constant tiresome chore. I come away now with Wisdom from Nannie and you–
    “Leftovers guaranteed that the family could eat well for several meals while the woman of the house spent her energy elsewhere.” I should cook a lot more food and not just cook for 2! That way my energy can be spent elsewhere! Thank you so much, Renee and your Nannie too!

    • You’re so sweet! I, too, love the blog hops that help me catch up with like-minded folks. I’m sure your desire for God is what makes you such a great Momma! And I enjoyed seeing the pics of your lovely family in the sidebar of your blog. Blessings!

  23. I want to go eat at her house:) What a beautiful memory, thank you for sharing this story!

    When my grandma (whom we called Mamo) was alive, when she sat down and shared an apple, or anything for that matter, it was her way of wanting you to sit and chat a while. I sure do miss those coversations.

  24. I just shared this on FB. What a wonderful concept re:Jesus & the feeding of the crowd. The mental image of him producing a bounty for that crowd to illustrate his desire to bless his children abundantly makes my heart swell.

  25. I loved reading about your Nannie. My grandmother raised me. All the kids in the neighborhood always flocked to our house. I was popular — I thought. Shortly after I moved into my own apartment at age 18, I couldn’t find any of my friends. Around noon I quit looking and headed for Gram’s to see what she was having for lunch. All my friends were already at the table playing cards and eating meatloaf sandwiches. Apparently it was Gram who was popular. 😉

  26. This was a beautiful tribute to your Nannie and I loved the analogy with the provision of the Lord…your words blessed me today!

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