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Simple Menu Plan and My Potato Soup Recipe

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Yesterday I posted on facebook that I had made a menu plan for September because life will soon get busier and I may as well plan ahead now, while I have the time.

Here was my post:

I just wrote out our meals for September. I want to plan ahead before life gets busy and I want to stock up on what I will need–Before you give me a high five, trust me, it’s basic. Pizza on Fridays, crockpot on Thursdays, Tacos on Tuesdays, etc.. #nofrills#simplemeals#theyjustwanttoeat#backtoSIMPLE

Really. That’s what I am all about. Getting back to simple.

No more elaborate color-coded meal plans, systems,  or cooking for a month. Just simple dishes focusing on those around the table, rather than what’s on it.

Seriously, my kids just want to eat. They don’t care about Pinterest-perfect. They would much prefer traditional simple meals, to a  mama running around busy trying to keep up with Betty Crocker.

So, as I (tried) to show you all on Facebook Live yesterday (the video kept cutting out 🙁 ) I printed out a calendar for September from my computer’s iCal. I handwrote a meal for each day (knowing they can be switched around as needed) but I also kept it easy because each night of the week is the same theme. 

For example, Tuesday is Tacos. That is something I can make it minutes because that day is usually busy. I can serve it with beans and corn or tortilla chips with guacamole. And every Tuesday, since we are out of the house all day, I know what I am making and don’t have to think about it.

I scheduled Thursdays as a crockpot day. We usually do different types of chicken in the crockpot or veggie chili, etc. So each Thursday I can pick which one I want to do. I just need to change to sauces or seasonings, etc.

I scheduled Fridays as pizza day. I like to make homemade pizza, and we can vary toppings and types. Or once in awhile, we can order pizza out!

Then, with those days of the week taken care of, I sprinkled other favorite meals throughout the month: Ravioli, chicken Parmesan, Quesadillas (again, different types- bean cheese, chicken, whatever I have on hand.) and soups. I  add a side of veggies, fruit, salad, etc. and we are done!

I will make sure when I do my grocery shopping coming up that I have most of the ingredients (non-perishables) for the month, so during the month I will just fill in as needed. (I haven’t gone “grocery shopping in the grocery store” in almost a year. I will write about my life-changing grocery shopping method soon!)

Anyway, it is simple. I enjoy cooking (and eating!) but also know at this stage in my life, it isn’t necessarily the time for elaborate meals. (I had all summer for that!) As life gets in full swing with back-to-school, simple is best for us. Predictability is fine too. And like I said, I can switch the meals around so it’s not always the same, but at least I have a skeleton outline to work with and the ingredients on hand for the month. And if we get some down time, then I can experiment with an elaborate meal on that day, but it won’t be every week!

I look at our grandmothers and how they lived and I would love to get back to that mindset.

They didn’t have these elaborate systems and methods. They simply cooked what they knew. I don’t think there was nearly as much fuss. I much prefer to focus on relationships around the table these days rather than stressing over elaborate cooking plans.

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Now, many of you asked for the potato soup recipe, so here it is! I have been making it forever, I don’t measure, but cook by sight, smell, and taste–so bear with me! Let me know if you have any questions.

SIMPLE SUPPERS

Simple Potato Soup: 

~About 8-10  potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks (I add more depending on how much I want to make)
~1-2 boxes (32 oz) box of chicken stock (again, add more if using more potatoes. Generally, I use enough to just cover the potatoes my about 1/2 in.- 1 in.)
~2-4 onions, chopped into large chunks (alter depending on your tastes. I like to err on the side of more for more flavor.)
~a few tablespoons butter
~salt and pepper to taste
~shredded cheddar cheese for topping

Melt butter in large pot.  Add onion and cook until tender.  Add potatoes and broth.  Bring to a boil.  Turn heat down to low, add salt and pepper,  and simmer for about an hour.

Using the blender, puree the soup in batches until nice and smooth.

Top with shredded cheese.

Makes a great supper served with homemade bread or salad.

Enjoy!

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Simplify Meal Planning…While the Kids are Learning REAL Life Skills…A Reader Shares Her Story

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I am so excited to share this with you. I had a reader write me and tell me all about this God-given idea for simple meal planning that is also teaching real life skills. I just love it! She did not want to be credited but wanted the idea to be credited to God alone! What an awesome testimony of God’s hand in all the details of our lives. 

So here is what my reader sent me:

First of all, everything involved with making meals was  not fun for me.  Coming up with the ideas was very hard.  And I had to do it three times a day, every day, every week, every year.  Then to top it off, I can’t stand shopping.  Cooking was not fun either for me.  I want everything to be healthy for my family, but I love junk food type eating.  Every meal was drudgery.  I wanted to do the right thing, take good care of my family, make our meals pretty and tasty and healthy, on time (as we eat our meals together), and stay in our budget.  Add to that the dishes that needed washing at the end of the meal (we don’t have a dishwasher), and I did not look forward to time in the kitchen.

I finally prayed about this problem.  God gave me a fantastic idea.  Praise HIM!!  He is so good to me.

I have two children.  Each of us has two days we are responsible for. A bigger family could work on a two-week or monthly schedule.

Monday – Youngest Child
Tuesday – Mom
Wednesday – Youngest Child
Thursday – Oldest Child
Friday – Mom
Saturday – Oldest Child
Sunday – Leftovers from the week’s meals

One day a week we go through recipes (or not) and come up with a meal plan for our assigned days.   Then we write down all the ingredients on our lists that we will need to purchase after checking in the pantry to see if we already have some of the ingredients.  This has taught us to use up ingredients we already have and not let those cans and bags and boxes sit on the shelf in our pantry and get closer and closer (and pass) the expiration date.  This wastes money and food and just wasn’t good stewardship.  This was also something I needed to implement, myself, so we learned this together. : )

We then go to the bank and get out $30 each ($15 per day).  They see me taking money out of the bank every week.  We go in so they can see me interact with the teller, and they watch as she takes my ID and fills out slips of paper and hands me the money the way I request it (6 tens and 6 fives).  Sometimes they ask questions about what they saw and then real-life learning takes place.  We put our $30 in each of our own envelopes. Then we get a free cookie our bank offers on the way out.  It’s a good time.

I can see more learning taking place at the bank in the future by letting them fill out the withdrawal slips and making the actual transactions with the teller.

Now, comes the part my children really like and where a lot of learning takes place.  We go to the grocery store.  We each get our own cart (but usually they like to share a cart and divide their piles onto their own side of the cart.)  Trying to practice Masterly Inactivity, I sometimes watch them make a poor choice or obviously overspend their budget, but I keep it to myself.  The mistake will soon appear to them, then we can work on how to fix it or make better and healthier choices the following week.

So, this is some of the learning that has taken place from our shopping system:

-My youngest child has asked to carry a calculator in the store and tallies up purchases as they are placed in the cart.  (This is exciting because I don’t allow them to use calculators at home.)  This has stopped the overspending and finding out in front of the casher with someone else waiting behind us. 

-My oldest child likes to use up what is already in the pantry and not spend much of the budgeted money.  (I forgot to mention that the leftover money is saved in a crock for a “going out to eat” meal.  We all like to do this, and it’s quite an incentive to not spend the whole grocery budget.) 

-My children have learned how to interact and exchange money with different cashiers, as we each check out one at a time doing the whole transaction on our own. 

Then the best part for me is about to happen.  Going into the kitchen (did I just say that?).  Praise God for this plan, because I can say that.  We each put our groceries away where they go.  (One tip is for each of us to have our own area for our special ingredients in the pantry, so my oldest child doesn’t “shop”  in there and use it in meal planning.) Then we each take care of preparing the meals on our own day.  Most of the time, we’ve made it a surprise and no one else is allowed in the kitchen.  We do it up with great presentation to impress Daddy.  Oh, the learning that is taking place in the kitchen is abundant as measuring, direction following, using the timer, mixing ingredients in certain order, kitchen safety, and trying creative inventions is happening everyday. We’ve had quite an interesting variety of meals, too (spaghetti with mashed potatoes and gravy for one. 🙂 Daddy loves it. (We are actually spending less than we have in many years on groceries and staying within a budget.  The extras that are necessary to run a house are budgeted in a separate envelope and purchased as needed.)   Everyone is happy and excited and guess what… I only have two days a week I’m responsible for.  So, now making meal plans is much easier, way more fun to prepare to impress, and the children are learning so much.

And just to end the day so much more enjoyably than in the past, the whole family cleans up the kitchen, and we do the dishes together.  My husband likes to wash, and the children and I dry and put away.

Thanks for reading this and thanks to God for answering my prayer better than I could have thought or imagined.

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Food Inc, food matters, Fresh, Hungry for Change, Simply...Cooking, Simply...Family, Simply...Homeschool, Simply...Living For Him, Using The Bible as Our Main Text

Simple Food- As God Intended It To Be…

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As New Year’s approaches so many people make resolutions about eating healthier. Yet, I am learning that there is so much more to eating healthier than losing weight or “looking good.” It is about being healthy, but most of all, God has given us all we need in our food for health- and He has designed the food system to work quite efficiently to keep us healthy.  Yet, as a society we have compromised His plan. 

For the last week or so, my husband and I have been enjoying some quiet time after the kiddies go to bed- by watching documentaries on Netflix. We have been watching ones specifically that deal with our food system, farming, and how the food industry has made our food much less healthy in the past few decades with the industrialization of farming.

I highly recommend being informed about these things. Not only is the food we eat processed, it is nutritionally deficient. The way that our food is made nowadays is based on making the most for the least amount of money, and it doesn’t matter if health is compromised- not the way we were intended to eat.

What I find fascinating is how it can be looked at biblically. How we as humans have messed with things that were designed by our Creator to be a certain way. God is simply amazing in how he designed the food system to work. How the animals and plants work together to compete cycles of fertilization and growth. Yet, when us humans get in there and upset things, we end up with disease and things are out of balance. 

Now more than ever our society is dealing with high rates of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and obesity-
all effects of what we have created by interfering with the way food is supposed to grow and be eaten. Another effect of the fall of man. 


When we see the beauty of how God has created nature, and how we are supposed to respect His creation, then we can enjoy the health from His creation. Yet, when we tamper with what is perfectly created we are left with deficient and unhealthy consequences.

I am simply intrigued at learning more about how to make better choices for my family, and keep in line with God’s intention for us. The results will be healthier food, healthier people, and a healthier earth.

Simplifying food. It is another way to simplify our lives to keep our focus on Him. After all, He created our food- so we can focus on Him when we focus on eating the way He intended us to.

I plan on incorporating these movies and lessons into our school lessons for health- tying it all into using the Bible as our Main Text in January. There is so much to learn about science, biology, health, nutrition, etc.- all from His Creation.

These are highly recommend if you are interested in learning more:

 

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© copyright 2012 – All rights reserved

SimplyLivingforHim