Friday Favorites: Plan, Shop, Eat

I really enjoyed taking a break from the Friday Favorites post in order to share some things that the Lord has been teaching me. I also enjoyed writing the posts on Meal Planning for the past four Wednesdays.  I  love to eat, but don’t always love to cook, so meal planning makes me feel like I’m more in control of that part of the food equation.

Here are the Posts in case you missed them:

What can Meal Planning do for you?

Meal Planning Basics

Meal Planning: The Whole Foods Edition

Why You Should Be Freezer Cooking

And now, Here are a few of my favorites about Meal Planing from around the web-o-sphere 🙂

Grab a FREE meal planning calendar (with links to recipes) for the month of March from Meet Penny.

Keeper of the Home shares her thoughts on meal planning here.

Meal Planning 101 is a great site to look at!  Check out the many links to Meal planning tips. The site has recipe ideas on it too.  I was practically drooling over the pictures of the pizza grilled cheese!  Yum!

Lastly, I Heart Organizing has a thorough tutorial on Meal Planning that you might enjoy.

Hope that everyone has a great weekend!

What is your favorite Meal Planning resource?

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Why You Should be Freezer Cooking

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Photo credit

I’ve had a great time with this months meal planning Wednesdays.  We’ve talked a lot about the why behind meal planning as well as the basics and whole food edition of meal planing.  For this last week, I wanted to share just a bit of how freezer cooking can fit into your meal planning.

A couple months ago a dear friend of mine fell ill and had a family emergency.  I called her, wanting to know if I can do anything. “I’ll bring you dinner.”  I told her.  I knew I had such a busy day ahead of me.  As I drove home I was wracking my brain to figure out how I would get everything done.  “Ah-ha,” I remembered that I still had a meal in my freezer from a freezer cooking day I had a while ago.  Yay!

And that is my reason number 1 of why freezer cooking is so beneficial.

Already made meals ready to give to friends in need is such a blessing to have on hand!!

Some other reasons to practice freezer cooking is:

2. If for some reason you can’t make dinner that night, you don’t have to worry, it’s already done!

3. You can save money, by utilizing meats that have been on sale.

4. Streamlining the slicing and dicing saves you time!

The best part about freezer cooking is that you don’t have to a ton of it in order to benefit from the idea behind it.  Here are a few ideas:

  • ready to go breakfasts
  • pre-made casseroles
  • soups
  • ready to go crockpot meals
  • marinated meats
  • browned ground beef

I’m sure there are even more ways that you will find as you begin doing this yourself!

If you’ve never heard of the idea of freezer cooking and need a little more instruction, check out money saving moms post on freezer cooking.  While your there, be sure to check out all the free printable she has for planning your freezer cooking day.

Have you ever benefited from Freezer Cooking?

Posted in Organizing your Kitchen | 3 Comments

Psalm 18, again

This is actually a post I had written a long time ago when I had another blog.  Since it fits with the  “Faith Fridays” posts I thought I would share it here too!  I wrote it over a year ago so some of the referencing will be out-dated but the message is still the same 🙂

From My Life, My Expedition on June 21 2011

This past Sunday, our pastor spoke on Psalm 18. But me, being the highly distracted person I am, was having a hard time concentrating on what he was saying. Maybe it’s a lack of self-discipline, maybe it’s ADD – Whatever it is, the harder I tried to concentrate, the more distracted I became. I was even distracted by my concentration. Figure that one out for me, will ya?

Anyways, seeing that I had a hard time focusing then, I decide to read the Psalm this morning. Wow! What beauty there is in God’s word. In just the first few verses we learn that God is our strength, rock, fortress, deliverer, mountain of refuge, shield, salvation, stronghold and is worthy of praise. Hitting home that God is All in All.

“Worthy of praise”. The phrase struck me today differently. I’ve heard it, read it, heck – even sung it many times before this day. Yet, it strung a different heart cord as I meditated on it. God is worthy of praise. Worthy of it. Maybe it would help if it used my italics icon. Worthy. He is worthy of praise. See? (Makes it more clear, doesn’t it?) It isn’t that God just gets praised, or that he just wants our praise. He certainly doesn’t need our praise. But he is worthy of it. Sometimes, in my life, I find myself praising other people for the job they have done. I say something like “Good job! That was great!” And I think I’m making the other person feel better, appreciated. I’m assuring them that what they did was indeed good. But God knows he is good,. He doesn’t question if his work is good. He knows he is worthy of the praise. Honestly it’s about time we catch on the fact too.

In verses 4-19, is a beautiful word picture of God, in righteous anger, rescuing David from his enemies. It is really an intriguing thing this “righteous anger”. Whenever I think of anger, I think of me being scared, ashamed, guilty, or burning with hate. I grew up seeing anger fleshed out. Cross and line, even accidentally, and firer-y words spewed out, until I felt undeserving and unwanted. Sometimes I cringe inside when I read about God being angry. Afraid of the wrath. Yet, I have to remind myself, that God is not man. His anger is not that of what I have experienced. It is not out of control rage. It is not derived from hate or selfishness. I long to understand the concept of “righteous anger”. One thing I find interesting is that, in this psalm, God’s anger is in the context of God rescuing David from his enemies. I thought of a mother rushing to the aid of her child. How much I love my children; I would surly rescue them, and if needed, destroy any evil that tried to conquer their soul. Maybe, that is a first step of understanding this anger. And to think, that God would destroy evil in order to rescue us! Now that is something my heart can rejoice in.

Which brings me to the second half of verse 19 “He rescued me because He delighted in me.” Whoa! Whaaaat? God could delight in a human!?! Again, I thought of how much the mere presences of my children brings me delight. And because of Christ, we can be God’s children. I John 3:1 “Look at how great a love the Father has given us, that we should be called God’s children. And we are!…” How much He loves us! The more I learn about God, the more I’m amazed and the more my heart is touched. He is not flawed like us. He is perfection. He can’t be put in a box . The more I discover about him, I realize that there isn’t anything like him. He is the best of all things good. He is the One and only. He is worthy of my praise.

Psalm 86: 8-10 “Lord, there is no one like You among the gods, and there are no works like Yours. All the nations You have made will come and bow down before You, Lord, and will honor Your name. For You are great and perform wonders; You alone are God.”

 

That wraps up our Faith Friday’s Post for the month of February.  March will bring back our Favorite Fridays’s series.

How has God been working in your life lately?  It always great to hear what God is doing 🙂

Posted in Encouragement, Faith and Inspiration | 1 Comment

Meal Planning: The Whole Foods Edition

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Photo Credit freedigitalphotos.net

We have talked about the why behind meal planning and last week I shared the basics for meal planning.  This week I wanted to show you a slightly different version of meal planning.  Some might call it a “non-plan”.  Call it what you will.  It’s slightly genius.

Maybe, like me, you have been eating less and less of processed foods.  My family has been seeking out a whole foods, or real foods lifestyle.  This way of eating is better for you because you are basically making everything from scratch and therefore you know exactly what is going into your body.

Planning for these types of meals can actually be a little easier when you get the basic understanding of “real foods” under your belt.  Yes it is more time-consuming to cook all those things from scratch.  And it can (but doesn’t need to be) more expensive.

With all that said here is a basic skeleton for making a menu plan with a whole foods mentality.

Whole foods dinner = Meat + Veggies + Starch

Because dinner for this type of menu planning follows the same principle you really could walk into the grocery store knowing you need enough meat for 7 dinners, 7 family sized vegetable servings and a few healthy starch options.

As long as you also keep an eye on the basic cooking ingredients and keep them on hand, you are all set to cook dinner each night.

Here is what this would look like for my family

  • 1 pack frozen meat = 2 meals
  • 2 packs fresh meat = 2 meals
  • Salad= 1 meal
  • Out to eat = 1 meal (we typically go out for dinner one night a week)
  • Leftovers= 1 meal (we only have two small boys, so I plan for leftovers)
  • 2 packs frozen vegetables (this would be about 3 dinner servings for my family)
  • 3 fresh vegetable options (this also would be about 3 dinner servings)
  • 3-4 starch options (enough for 6 meals)

All of this equals up to 7 dinners. I could do the same basic principle with lunch, rotating sandwiches, wraps, and salad.  And with breakfast rotating cereal, cereal bars, oatmeal, and eggs.

When I go to the store I would get the meats that I need, and a variety of veggies and starch options.  (Most of the time you will find  starch options are relativity easy to keep on hand; like potatoes, rice, pasta and bread.)

Why this plan is nice:

  • it gives you more freedom and flexibility
  • easier in the “planning” stage
  • needs less ingredients than casserole type meals

Some cons of this type of planning

  • You may overspend if you aren’t keeping track of what is going into the cart.
  • You still need to keep in mind what you are going to fix for the night in case you need to defrost something.
  • You may find yourself forgetting what ingredients you have at home and buy double  (that’s why I think it’s a good idea to keep an ongoing list of shopping needs)

How to transition:

Does this sound like something you would like to do, but are scratching your head wondering how you are going to make the switch?

Start slowly

You may “plan” a meat + veggie meal on your planning sheet a couple of times so that you remember to get what you need but also give yourself the flexibility of choosing the meat and veggies at the store.

Let yourself be flexible about when the meal happens.  Its ok if you eat a Thursday meal on a Tuesday   Its your house and your food.  Switch it around if you need to.

Go ahead a do a little bit of both.  Want to do this type of planning for some meals but also want to make that new casserole that your friend gave you a recipe for.  Do it!  Write down what ingredients you will need for the casserole, and how many meats, veggies and starches you will need for the week.

Things to remember:

Keep track of the prices.  I write down an estimation of what I should spend on veggies and meats.  This way I make sure that I save that amount in my grocery budget for those items.

Don’t forget about breakfast and lunch foods too!  You will soon have good estimate of how long a carton of eggs, or a container of oatmeal will go so don’t stress over it, just keep it in mind when you go to the store.

How do you menu plan for a whole foods diet?  Do you find it easier to plan for these types of meals?  Do you have any tips for eating this type of diet?

Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments

Weekly Goals- February 19th

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I apologize for having this in a day late.  Thanks for being patient with me as my husband and I were on a small little getaway!  We had a great time and its hard to get back into the swing of things after such a nice trip.

Here is the recap of last week.

  • Read two chapters of GRACE–  CHECK and the book is finished!!
  • Have a game night with kids -nope 😦  I forgot about this until later into the week and suggested it one night but was out voted and we had a movie night instead.
  • Write three blog posts.  Only two
  • Go to bed by 11pm 2x this week.  CHECK.  Tuesday I was so tired I fell asleep on the couch at 9:30!  Totally unheard-of for me.
  • Go to bed by 11:30 4x this week.  Nope. I stayed up later one night, but over all did pretty well in the “to bed” goals.
  • Have a date–  CHECK!  We had a great valentines day date and as mentioned before were able to go away for a night over the weekend. 🙂  Yay!
  • Plan two dates for one-on-one time with each of my boys-oops! 😦
  • Start Homeschool everyday by 9:30–  Friday I decided to do an early morning errand which put us behind that day but overall this is going very well!
  • Clean up 2nd half of basement.  Did a major clean up of the yard instead.  Still feel accomplished so that’s pretty good.
  • Memorize Psalm 16:11– 😦  I have no words to say about this.  I think I’m going to move on to a different passage and come back to this one later.
  • Do a valentines craft with the boys-CHECK
  • Wake up by 8:00 6x this week-CHECK
  • Read Bible 1st thing 4x this week-CHECK
  • Finish reading Charlotte’s Web to the boys-Uh, ok.  Lost the book for a while and so we started on “The Mystery of the Musical Umbrella,”  which we all loved and finished today.
  • Make a new recipe– Yes, I made a Tuscan Bean Soup, but unfortunately it wasn’t very good 😦

I didn’t get nearly as many things checked off my list as I have in the past.  Even totally forgetting about a couple things even though I have my goals listed in my homemakers notebook.  Honestly with valentines day and a last minute trip to prepare for, I just had quite a bit on my plate.

Another thing is that I need to not get so caught up in my weekly goals that I forget some of day to day habits I like to keep up with.  When I got home from vacation, I had dirty dishes in the sink and floors that needed to be swept. Not  a way to welcome myself back.

This week I will be focusing more on those little day to day things in order to make myself slow down and figure out what’s really important. Also, to see what I honestly think I can accomplish each day in addition to housekeeping and homeschooling.

Here are this weeks goals: Tuesday -Saturday

  • Start homeschooling by 9:30 (I can tell you already that today we did not make this time restriction, so this would be for the rest of the week!)
  • Clean one room each day
  • Sweep twice each room
  • Do one load of laundry everyday
  • Finish reorganizing cupboards
  • Clean up 2nd half of basement
  • Work on morning routine
  • Clean the bathrooms 2x’s
  • Wake up by 8am for the rest of the week. (8:30 on Sat)

How was your week?  Are you finding it hard to keep focused on day to day stuff as well as all the new goals?  How do you balance it all?  I’d love to hear!

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/venosdale/6156635313/”>Krissy.Venosdale</a&gt; via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;
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Weekly goal post comming tomorrow

My weekly goal list and update will be posted tomorrow. My husband and I are enjoying an overnight getaway!!

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Looking for His love

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Photo courtesy of photostock (freedigitalphotos.com)

It’s been over five years since I lost my first child.  I’ve lost two more since then. Losing them sent me into a whirlwind of questions I may never forget.  But God is so good. He sent me the answers.

I remember clearly the time I drove down the road one spring day, feeling heartbroken.

“God loves everyone”  I tried to console myself.

“But why then, doesn’t he love me?

The “feelings” of God’s absence, although untrue, overwhelmed me.  Doubts plagued me.

Thoughts like:

 I try so hard yet, I don’t measure up.

God may be love.  The Bible says so, right?  But I must have missed something.  I don’t “get it”, so I can’t have his love.

He. doesn’t. love. me.

However, I wasn’t satisfied to drown in a raging sea of hopelessness. I flapped my arms and gasped for air.  I knew that there was a lifeboat and I was desperate to get in.

What I needed was to see it.  To hear it.  To read it myself.

I needed to believe it.

And so I began to search.  I looked to the Psalms in God’s word.  If anyone ever felt so deeply  it was David.  If anyone ever cried enough tears to fill an ocean or felt their bones waste away, that person, they could relate to how I felt.  David, like myself, wasn’t content to drown.

Psalm 86:13a “For great is your steadfast love toward me

Psalm 86: 15 “But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.”

 Romans 10:17 “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God.”

If we ever need to be convinced of Gods love we only need to search the scriptures.  They tell us over and over again of his love.  Unfailing, Unchanging, Abounding. Never-ending.  A love so deep and wide.  A love so strong, so overflowing, we can’t even measure it.

The best part?  I began to see that I didn’t deserve Gods love; Yet, He loves me anyways.  He loves because it’s who he is.  Its his character.  Love belongs to him.  It defines him.

Gods love has nothing to do with me or my action but it’s who he IS.  God IS love.

Psalm 25:7 “Remember not the sins of my youth or my transgressions;
according to your steadfast love remember me,
for the sake of your goodness, O Lord!”

And so the pressure is off.  I don’t have to earn it; to measure up.  Just because I struggle to feel it, doesn’t mean its not there.

His love never fails. It’s long-suffering,  steadfast and is poured out on me.

I threw myself into the Psalms and found my lifeboat:  God. His promise.  His love.

Have you ever sought through the scriptures because you were desperate for truth?  Perhaps, you, like me at one time struggled to believe that God loved you.  YOU.  Let me be the first to say “He loves you, dear believer.  Yes, He is love.”

Posted in Encouragement, Faith and Inspiration | 1 Comment

Meal Planing Basics

ID-10080860 Image courtesy of debspoons

We talked about the four main areas in your life that meal planing helps last Wednesday.  Let’s Recap:

Meal Planing Helps You:

  • Avoid Take Out
  • Save Money
  • Save Time
  • Plan Healthy Meals

So now we know why to meal plan, but how do you do it?  Well, it’s actually simple enough, anyone can grasps the basic steps.

  1. Gather cookbooks, recipes, (or pinterest boards 🙂
  2. Look at what is on sale at your favorite grocery store.  (I don’t do this because the stores I shop at don’t offer “sales”- Traders Joes and Aldi. With the exception of Whole Foods and Earth Fare.)
  3. Do a quick inventory of fridge and freezer to see if you need to use anything up.
  4. Look at the calendar- this way you will know not to plan a time consuming meal on an already full day.
  5. Meal planning list- I use #4 from this site, but you can write it up on any plan paper.

Start plunging meals into your list.  If you are having trouble thinking of things you could have “themed” meal nights like this:

  • Monday- Meatless
  • Tuesdays-Chicken
  • Wednesday-Crockpot
  • Thursday-Red meat
  • Friday-Family Favorite
  • Saturday-Simple Meal
  • Sunday-Pot Roast

You may also want to start writing down some “tried and true” meals as a reference.

Somethings you might want to keep in mind:

  • Use the crockpot on busy days!- The crockpot has become my favorite kitchen appliance.  I love it when 4:30 comes around and I can say, “dinners almost ready”  🙂
  • Keep your budget in mind when meal planning.  You can plan for Lobster and steak all you want, but if you can’t pay for it, well, then that’s a real problem.  When writing down your meal ideas, plan a few budget friendly ones.
  • Look through each day to make sure you have planed a good amount of fruits and vegetables for the day.

Lastly make your grocery list.  Making the list now will save you time and money later.  This way if you can check to make sure that you have all the ingredients you need for your recipes, and not risk spending money of products that you already had at home but weren’t sure about.

Next week I want to share a slightly different version of the basic meal planing listed here.  While this is a great foundation, it is possible to do a sort-of “un-plan”  especially if you eat a more “whole foods” or “real foods” diet.

Do you meal plan?  What is your best tip?

Posted in Organizing Life, Organizing your Kitchen, Organizing your time | 4 Comments

Weekly Goals Update: February 11th

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It has been another great week! I’m very pleased with how the goals are helping me read some books that I’ve wanted to read, but have lacked the discipline to. Be looking out for a post in a few weeks about which books are one my to-read list.

Here are the goals from last week:

  • Read two chapters of GRACE–  CHECK- and I’m almost done with this book!
  • Finish reading Revelation– CHECK 🙂
  • Make a new recipe– CHECK, I made something to take to a Ladies Fellowship my church was hosting
  • Continue to increase veggie intake– CHECK (although this isn’t a very measurable goal, I was intentional about it)
  • Plan a Date night with my husband-CHECK-ISH-  I”m assuming that we are going out for Valentines Day, but I may have another thing up my sleeve 😉
  • Play a game with the boys–  CHECK,  Hoping to turn this into a regular game night!
  • Write two blog posts this week-CHECK!
  • Memorize Ps 16:11-FAIL  I honestly worked on this one over and over again, but can’t get it stuck in my head…..what gives?
  • Work on Morning routine (step one: Morning bible reading)  I want to start having this time first thing in the am!  Goal: 3x this week in the morning– CHECK,  I think.  I forgot to keep track of this one.  I was intentional about it, but there were a couple of days that I check my Twitter or FB account first.  (awful, I know)
  • Go to bed by 11:30 every night this week!- FAIL, But I only missed it my two nights, so I’m not too disappointed.
  • Deep Clean the Office part 2 (or the Basement, if hubby has extra time to help ;-)  CHECK ish-  I worked on half the basement but its far from deeply cleaned.
  • Start planning the garden!–  CHECK, Kinda.  I looked some stuff up and started planning but I want to look into companion planing more.  PS: If you are looking to plan a garden check out smartgarden.com.  Such a neat site!
  • Start homeschool by 9:30 every morning. – FAIL, we were so close!  By minutes!

I think I totally forgot was that VALENTINES DAY is this week.  Well, I didn’t forget, I just didn’t make plans to do anything about it.  This resulted in my 7-year old writing out his valentine’s day cards for his co-op friends Sunday night.  Oops!

Goals for the upcoming week:

  • Read two chapters of GRACE
  • Have a game night with kids
  • Write three blog posts
  • Go to bed by 11pm 2x this week
  • Go to bed by 11:30 4x this week
  • Have a date
  • Plan two dates for one-on-one time with each of my boys
  • Start Homeschool everyday by 9:30
  • Clean up 2nd half of basement
  • Memorize Psalm 16:11
  • Do a valentines craft with the boys
  • Wake up by 8:00 6x this week
  • Read Bible 1st thing 4x this week
  • Finish reading Charlotte’s Web to the boys
  • Make a new recipe

Do you have any special goals this week for Valentines Day?

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/venosdale/6156635313/”>Krissy.Venosdale</a&gt; via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;

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As God, For Christ’s sake, has forgiven you

girl praying

Photo credit (FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

It seams like every time I turn around, I’m in a battle.  A war.   As if Satan knows just where in my heart to aim his fiery darts. Sometimes I can see it coming.  Other times it comes out of nowhere.  If its not dis-contentment, than it’s depression.  If its not being frustrated with the kids,  its being a cheerful giver.  And sometimes, when all things appear to be well, its forgiveness.  He reminds me of past hurts, and I have to ask God to help me forgive, again.

In asking God to help me,  HE reminded me of a verse that my Mother had my sister and I quote every time we argued, which was a lot.  Ephesians 4:32 “Be ye kind  one to another, tenderhearted forgiving one another, even as God, for Christ’s sake has forgiven you.”

….For Christ’s Sake

I shouldn’t have a forgiving heart because it will cause the pain to go away. Or  for me at all.  Its because 1) God commands his believers too; and 2) because Christ endured the cross.  He took all the sin upon himself so that we could be forgiven.  We don’t forgive for our offender’s sake, or even ourselves.

Its for him.

….Has Forgiven You

And because of him.

When I think about how much I’m forgiven, how Christ came down and swallowed my sin and guilt on the cross. That he holds no grudge.  That, he did it freely.  He suffered.  He died.  He rose.  When I think about the fact that he provided me his righteousness, and granted ME forgiveness.  Well, that doesn’t leave much room to think about what I’ve suffered, what I’ve been wronged in.

He grants me forgiveness and he provides me the power to forgive.

They say that forgiveness is a choice.  And they are 100% correct.  It is a choice.  You can choose to forgive.  But when struggling with the emotions of it all, when, even after you’ve chosen to open your heart to forgiving the other person, you feel the pain and frustration;  Remember this: Christ has forgiven you, dear believer.  YOU.

Sometimes, I think I over complicate things.  I think that I need to feel like I’m forgiving someone.  That I need to feel love towards the person.   I try to “think” myself into “feeling” like I’ve forgiven.  I think too much.  Or actually, I think too much about the wrong solution.  Choose to forgive then think on Christ.

His forgiveness.

His love.

His faithfulness.

His righteousness.

His power.

He is the one who makes it possible to forgive.  Think on HIM.

Can you relate to this?  Aren’t we thankful to have such a good Savior?

Posted in Encouragement, Faith and Inspiration | 1 Comment