Giving Thanks, Even When It Is Hard

First Thessalonians 5:18 tells us “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”

In everything.

Give thanks. 

That means we are to give thanks when the harvest grain bins are full; it also means give thanks when they’re empty.

That means give thanks in the good times and in the bad.

Why? Because it is God’s will. It’s that simple.

For this reason, we’ve looked around us to see ways that we can cultivate a thankful heart, even in the often unpleasant and undesirable circumstances of life.

We can be thankful for…

  • The rent check we just wrote because have a house to live in.
  • Dirty dishes because our family has food to eat.
  • Dirty laundry because we have clothes to wear.
  • The water bill because we have clean water to drink.
  • The toys strewn across the house, the spills at the dinner table, the poopy diapers, the interrupted sleep…because we are blessed to have children.
  • The long car rides because we get to spend time with other people.
  • The wait-time at the doctor’s office because we have good health care.
  • The cold weather because we have variety in seasons.
  • A husband who hunts because I have a husband. 😉
  • Busy seasons of transition because we have a new house, child, etc.
  • Long hours of solo parenting because our husbands have a job.
  • Dirty floors because our children enjoy playing outside.
  • Unknowns because we have a God who knows and is in control.
  • Hard parenting days because it brings opportunities to trust God and point our children to His grace.
  • Rough patches in relationships because they help us learn to love and understand each other better.
  • Limits in finances because it presents us with opportunities to be content, to be frugal, to learn to pinch pennies.
  • Friends who live far away because it helps us appreciate it so much more when they come to visit!
  • Changes in the seasons of life because they help us learn to trust God with the question marks of the future.
  • Rotten food in the refrigerator because God provides.
  • Being forced to step out of our comfort zone because it allows God to do a work in our heart and give us joy.
  • Suffering because it exposes our weaknesses and forces us to depend on God.

As we celebrate this Thanksgiving season, may our hearts learn to give thanks in all things.

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20 Minutes Until Supper

Having a busier than expected day is pretty normal in our lives and those meal times can come around the clock faster than we plan for.

Last-minute meals on a busy day can be kind of crazy, but what if we had some go-to meals that can be ready and on the table in 20 minutes? That’s quicker than ordering pizza and having it delivered!

Here are some ideas for some super-quick meals that we whip up for our families on those busy days.

  • Quesadillas (with cheese and refried beans)
  • Breakfast for Dinner: pancakes, waffles, eggs and sausage/bacon with toast 
  • Loaded Potatoes (cooked in microwave) top with cheese, beans, sour cream, ham, broccoli or any other ingredients you have on hand that sound good.
  • Grilled Ham and Cheese Sandwiches (make it even better by warming up a can of soup for dipping the sandwiches in)
  • Chili
  • Stove-top Taco Casserole  (Taco meat layered in a skillet with broken up tortilla chips, cheese, and refried beans mixed with some salsa to make it spreadable)
  • Monte Cristo Sandwiches (Regular ham and cheese sandwiches dipped in a thin pancake batter and fried on a griddle)
  • Sloppy Joes
  • Spaghetti 
  • Tuna Melts 
  • Tacos or Taco Salad 
  • Philly Cheesesteak Sloppy Joes – I use this recipe from Delish.com 
  • Black beans with sauteed kielbasa, bell peppers, and onions over rice

Most of the ingredient for these meals are non-perishable or freezer-friendly.

Freezing cooked ground beef makes for an even faster meal assembly!

Try keeping ingredients for some of these meals on hand for those days when you just run out of time and really don’t want to spend the extra on pizza or carry-out!

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Tips for Successful Grocery Budgeting

Have you ever gotten to the end of the month and realized that you have spent hundreds of dollars more on food then you thought?

I am passionate about feeding my family well for as little as possible. Today I want to share some tips for managing a food budget.

 

#1 Plan 

The biggest money saver is planning  – plan, plan, plan! Apart from planning none of these tips will take effect.

Without planning you will buy things that you do not need, are more expensive than you realize or you will opt for eating out on a whim again which adds up in light speed.

#2 Evaluate – Take some time to think about what your family eats a lot of.

 Is it cereal, cheese, chips?

Now, take those things and make a plan for how to save on those things.

Is it cereal? Consider making your own granola or opting for a different breakfast choice a few days a week.

Is it cheese? Choose meals that use less cheese. Pound for pound cheese is more expensive than meat.

Is it chips? Only buy chips when they are on sale.

For example, our family eats a lot of yogurt so I make our own and its saves us a lot. Now maybe making your own yogurt sounds overwhelming. That’s ok, you get the idea. However, if you step out and try something new you may find that its not as hard as you think or even that you enjoy doing it.

#3 Make a weekly menu and limit yourself to shopping once a week.

Making a menu does take some time but overall it will save you time when it comes to shopping by eliminating last minute trips to the store and cut down on impulse buying which will save you a lot!

Here are some layouts that I use for my weekly menu.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#4 Shop the sales

Does your grocery store have a weekly ad? Check their website or grab their flier. Sit down with it and plan meals for the week that feature the sale items, especially when it comes to meat and cheese!

If something is on sale that you use a lot of, buy a month’s worth.

#5 Designate what you buy extra of and make sure you use it for that purpose.

It’s easy to buy extra corn chips because they are on sale but then eat them just because they are there rather than for a meal. Remember – without sticking to your plan and menu you will spend more.

#6 Plan one meal a week that is meatless.

Pintrest is great for ideas 😉

Our family has a pancake dinner once a week with some eggs on the side for extra protean.

#7 Set spending goals

Keep track of how much you spend and at the end of each week or month; evaluate how you did and see how you could do better or if you are pleased with the results. Then set goals for the coming week/month.

 

I hope these tips are helpful as you seek to be a good steward of the finances God has blessed you with! Remember to enjoy food. It’s a gift from God! Also, have fun! Buy special treats your family enjoys from time to time or try a new recipe that sounds delicious!

 

Happy Shopping

~ Rachel

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Windowsill Green Onions

 

My mom has always been an avid gardener.

I think it was therapy for her to go out into the garden all my herself and putter in the soil.

And she could make pretty much anything grow!

Well….God made it grow of course.

But really, she could take just a snipping of something, plant it and it would not die!

Gardening is something I want to try my hands out more on in the future but for now I am enjoying a couple planters of flowers and indoor green onions!

Often a recipe would call for green onions and I would leave them out because I would only use a few of them and end up throwing out the majority. However, I realized I could just keep them growing and always have them on hand for that occasional recipe or to throw in some eggs or on a salad!

When you buy green onions at your local produce store, they come all intact with their root system!

When you are ready to use them in your cooking just leave about two inches above the roots uncut.

Place a paper towel in the bottom of a clear glass or jar.

Fill jar/glass with a quarter inch of water.

Place in your window.

Watch them grow!

It’s as simple as that!

Change out the paper towel and add fresh water from time to time or when you notice that your jar is drying out.

They keep growing like grass!

Enjoy your own little “garden”!

 

~ Rachel

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Summer Recipes


Summer is finally here! Yay!

For most, if not all of us, summer often brings many gatherings with friends and family, whether they be in the backyard, at the park or playground, in the church basement, or around the dining room table! Whatever the setting, these gatherings usually provide opportunities to make something yummy to eat while we also seek to encourage and edify one another.

Here are some summer recipes that we have found easy to make for a crowd!

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Sub Sandwiches for a Crowd
It can be tedious to make sandwiches for a large group. However, this method is super easy and sure to please on a summer day.

Ingredients:
Loaf of french bread (one loaf makes about 8 sandwiches)
Creamy Caesar Salad Dressing
Lunch Meat (ham, turkey or chicken)
Sliced Cheese
Your favorite sandwich toppings

Directions:

Slice the loaf of french bread down the center long ways.

Open and spread Caesar Dressing on both sides.

Layer lunch meat and cheese on the bottom half of the loaf.

Put top of loaf on over the meat and cheese and slice into 8 sandwiches.

Arrange toppings on a plate and let your guests add what they like.

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Ham and Pineapple Kabobs
I add colorful pepper chunks to these fun kabobs to make a bright and appealing appetizer. You can also serve over white rice and make it a meal! Delicious!

I use this recipe from All Recipes.com: Ham and Pineapple Kabobs

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Stromboli
Instead of serving pizza at your next get-together, try making this similar-tasting stromboli that your guests are guaranteed to love!

Here’s the recipe I use: https://laurenslatest.com/how-to-make-stromboli/

 

 

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Pulled Pork with a side of Mac and Cheese
This is a classic combination that never gets old. Try this easy freezer meal recipe for Mac and Cheese that allows you to prep days in advance.

https://www.passionforsavings.com/easy-freezer-mac-cheese-recipe/

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One-Dish Taco Salad 

This is an easy dish to make for potlucks.

Ingredients:
1 pound hamburger, browned and seasoned with taco seasoning
2 large tomatoes, diced
1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 – 8 ounce package shredded cheddar cheese
1 large head of lettuce, finely chopped
1 – 12 ounce package Doritos Nacho Cheese chips (or regular tortilla chips), lightly crushed
8 ounces Greek Goddess salad dressing
8 ounces Coleslaw salad dressing

Directions: 

In a large serving dish, mix all ingredients together and serve immediately.

Note: Do not mix together until immediately before serving. Leftover salad does not keep–the chips and lettuce get very soggy. When taking this dish to a social gathering, I have found it helpful to prepare the ingredients as follows:

Place beans, cheese, and cooled hamburger in a Ziploc bag.
Place diced tomatoes in a separate quart Ziploc bag.
Place lettuce in a Ziploc bag.
Keep chips and dressing separate.

When ready to serve, simply dump all the ingredients together and mix together.

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Fruit Trifle
One of my favorite desserts to make in the summer is a fruit trifle, because you don’t really need any specific flavors or measurements in order for it to taste good. You can literally just use whatever you have on hand and you’ll end up with a light and delicious dessert.

What you will need:
1/2 cake, baked
I box instant pudding, prepared
3 c. fresh fruit, chopped or whole
1 container whipped topping

Instructions:
Cube the cake and layer the bottom of a bowl with it.

Add a layer of pudding and fruit, followed by a layer of whipped topping.

Repeat process over and over until your bowl is completely full. (Trust me, you’ll want the bowl full because this is one dessert that disappears quickly!)

Garnish with fresh fruit.

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What is your favorite dish to bring to a summer evening get-together? 

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