Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Meal Planning and Saving Money

As part of my goal to cut down on expenses, I have signed up with This is a business created by two ladies who put together weekly dinner plans based on diet, cooking, and store preferences.

This is a program that is endorsed by Dave Ramsey of Financial Peace University. If you don't know who he is, well just hover over either of these two links and it will take you straight to his link. Dave teaches you how to get yourself out of debt and learn to develop a new way of living based on what you have rather than what you wish you had. Ahem, living within your means. There are links on his website that can direct you to a class near you. Many, many churches offer this class and he even has homeschool curriculum for the teen and younger crowd. Best of all he is hilarious and very wise - through experience. If you are tired of living from paycheck to paycheck and want to get out of debt or find a way to save and plan for the future, find a class here. We will be attending a class beginning May 3rd.

Okay, back to emeals. I thought I would give this a try because as much as I wanted to plan my meals, I just didn't seem to have the time to actually sit down and do it due to all the schlepping I do of my teenage son. I go hear, there and yonder and over hill and dale almost everyday for one reason or another.
My husband and I thought we'd give it a try for six months.

I didn't know which meal plan to choose given the needs of each of us. Low carb, low fat, or portion control for my husband and me? Natural and organic or gluten free for my daughter who has chronic digestive problems. And then to choose the store - I'm telling you they have so many meal plans to choose from!

Well, I wanted inexpensive so I chose low-fat at any store. I knew that I'd be able to change the plan in a month, so I made my choice, paid and got my menu for the week.

I studied it hard and noticed that it had some boxed and packaged items as well as canned. Uh-oh...I don't normally use those things. I usually make most of my things from scratch. I would need to make some changes or improvise. I went about the kitchen checking my pantry and cupboards for all the items listed. I had a great deal of staples so only needed the main ingredients. The following day I headed to the store with great excitement and anticipation. I bought everything I needed and I have to tell you that I was a little shocked at the total dollar amount. However, I thought it was better than eating out.

The first dish had me a little perplexed. The main dish was a Italian sausage ragu with grits. Okay...what?
This is supposed to be a side dish or be served on top of it? I didn't get it. However, I pressed on and made all the dishes following the recipe exactly. I looked at it again...and thought, "Hmmmmm." I had better taste this. I did. OMG! Nope, this isn't going to fly with anyone in this house! I quickly fixed some Penne to remedy the problem and threw the grits out. wasted. But they ended up liking the Ragu on top of the Penne.

As I went through the week, I realized that I had to make adjustments to all the recipes but they weren't so major that food went to waste...except the grits. I loved that there was always a green side dish or fruit with the main dish. I loved that I didn't have to ask myself or my husband, "What should I make?" Here is one of the items that I fixed. It was originally supposed to be a Stromboli rolled in a jelly roll style. However, I chose to fold it into a calzone and the kids loved it!  Neither my husband nor my daughter were home to eat it and that happens frequently because of my husband's job and my daughter's college schedule. And from that I learned another thing. I could stretch this menu plan to possibly two weeks!

After the first month I did give the ladies at emeals feedback and they were very gracious. I learned this first month that this meal plan is not for us. I love to cook. I may not always feel like cooking, but I do love it! I do not use packaged meals, sides, or ready-to-eat anything. The cans I buy are for tomato sauce, paste, and stewed tomatoes. On occasion I will buy black beans or spaghetti sauce for those crazy nights. With that in mind, I knew I had to change the plan as soon as I could.

Today I woke up and quickly logged on to change my plan when I discovered that they added Clean Eating on their menu plans! One of my friends has been using these Clean Eating Magazine recipes for over a month and she and her husband feel great and their young children are loving it all! I looked at their sample menus and got excited all over again.

If you find yourself eating out a lot because you don't know what to fix and find your funds dwindling because of this, give emeals a try! The have a three month trial for $21.00. You have nothing to loose and could end up saving yourself some $$ and a few headaches.

Money saving tips I've learned:
If you have left-overs, pull them out at the end of the week and have left-over smorgasbord. If your family  is not a fan of left-overs get the freezer bags out and put it away for another month. If you use Food Saver bags, you can go for months before it having to pull it out again. By that time, it will be well received as if you had prepared it that night. For little bits of vegetable left-overs get a quart size tupperware and pop those green beans, corn, broccoli, and carrots in there. When it's filled make vegetable soup!!

Enjoy your meals and your savings!

Forever in His debt,

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Journaling - Reflecting On Our Body

And the parts we regard as less honorable are those we clothe with the greatest care. So we carefully protect from the eyes of others those parts that should not be seen, while other parts do not require this special care. So God has put the body together in such a way that extra honor and care are given to those parts that have less dignity.  1 Cor 12:23-24 NLT

And those parts of the body which we consider rather ignoble are [the very parts] which we invest with additional honor, and our unseemly parts and those unsuitable for exposure are treated with seemliness (modest and decorum), which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so adjusted (mingled, harmonized, and subtly proportioned the parts of) the whole body, giving the greater honor and richer endowment to the inferior parts which lack [apparent importance] 1 Cor 12: 23-24 Amplified version

This was part of my Bible reading one day and it resonated deeply with me and I felt that I had to share it. In the previous passages Paul is talking about the body of Christ.. that is... the church body of Christ and its importance to each of us. God has given us all gifts. He has equipped us to serve each other in our area of influence with those gifts and to do it with love.

There is a person in my area of influence whom I've been avoiding for a long time. I don't appreciate how this person speaks to me. Their voice is thunderous and obnoxious. They are often rude and ill-mannered. One day this person even went so far as to strike me with their cane to get my attention - they had forgotten my name was the excuse.  I know that this person comes from the most horrifying background and while I take that into great consideration, I still believe that one can learn manners. And since this person has chosen not to learn any, or perhaps use the,  I have avoided them. Is there someone in your life that you might treat with indifference or rebuff when they come near you? Look at the next few pictures...what are your initial honest with yourself.

How about the words attractive, beautiful, precious, priceless, beloved, highly favored? Probably not at first, huh? Is it more like, "Oh my!, Oh geez!, Good grief!"

Now, I'm going to go down a less dignified route and I pray you'll bear with me, as I do have a point to make. Let's think of our bodies for a moment. Admittedly, there are some parts of our body that we hide from our eyes.We consider them ignoble. They are less attractive and they are body parts that can be offensive. We certainly don't discuss them. In fact, we are very private with them. We ignore them, paying very little mind to them at all until they must perform their unpleasant duty or they start to cause problems...and yet we are very secretive about even that.

Well, the body of Christ is much like that, isn't it so?  There are people around us who we might find displeasing, disagreeable and even repugnant. We socialize very little with them, we hardly pay them any mind treating them like a pair of old shoes. We will use them if we absolutely must or if we don't want to ruin the better pair. When they start making their way toward us our thoughts might be "Oh, dear!" or "Oh, geez..." This is where the Holy Spirit convicted me.

Rather than respond with dread, we need to respond in love and with greater honor and care, particularly if they are less dignified.  You see, those less dignified people in our lives that we try to ignore are much like those aforementioned body parts. One body part has been given the richer endowment because it has the potential to create a new life. Another (for us women) has the ability to sustain and nourish that life. The other, more unsavory body part rids us of the toxins in our body. Without that last body part, we would die of poisoning.  God created each body part with a special purpose and each is needed to help us to live life to the fullest and in health. Jesus sees them with so much purpose because he created them with special giftings just as he did you and me. And while we might be an arm, a leg, eyes or the heart of the body - this person might have the potential to create a whole new body!

We must go beyond ourselves and reach out in love to the very least of these...we are all important to the body and we must love, love, love...piercings, warts, and all.  And isn't it just like God to then lead Paul into ending chapter 12 by introducing us to chapter 13, the chapter of love?

 The challenge for us all, today, is... find that "special someone" in your area of influence and send them a card, buy them a cup of something to show the love of Jesus because condemnation and judgement never won anyone to Christ, Amen?

And do let me know how you did! I will let you know how I did.

Forever in His debt,

Thursday, April 5, 2012

New Posting Coming

Hey there!

I just wanted to let y'all know (I'm getting more acclimated to the south, tee hee) that I have new postings coming. I have been remiss in posting because we are preparing for Resurrection Sunday AND my sister and nephew's arrival NEXT WEEK and I am busily about the house! I am soooo excited!!!

I have so much to share but I have to give my house priority this week and next. Hopefully I can post by Friday.  Thanks for your patience.

Forever in His Debt,
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