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simple, simplify, Simply...Cooking

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 a while, 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 Potato Soup: 

~About 8-10  potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks (I add more depending on how much I want to make)
~1 (32 oz) box of chicken stock (again, add more if using more potatoes. Generally, I use enough to just cover the potatoes.)
~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.


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Back to Simple

There once was a time when life was simpler. Mothers lived by instinct and raised their children trusting their God-given abilities and not the latest blog article about motherhood. And what they didn’t know, they asked their grandmas or the kind elderly lady down the street. Folks lingered after supper, sitting on porches sipping tea, exchanging talk, but mostly enjoying relationships.

Things weren’t overanalyzed. Life was hard enough without adding in the pressure of doing things “just right.” Probably most were concerned with just getting things done.

Sure times were tough, but people were focused. Life was different.

At any given moment in the present, you can find hundreds of articles on how to mother, how to be a better homemaker, how to homeschool, how to live…

There are even Pinterest boards to show you how it all should look, just in case reading about it isn’t enough.

There’s methods, systems, printables, ebooks, articles, webinars, and an infinite amount of information all telling us how to do everything.

Yet are we so busy trying to figure out how to do everything, that we are forgetting to live?

Now, I am all for gleaning information and enocuragement from other sources- we are blessed to have so much helpful information at our fingertips…but may it not consume us!

There was a time when summers for children meant freedom. Freedom to play, imagine, create, be with friends..all unstructured. Now, we schedule, overcommit, assign homework, and run around, busy, oh so busy…

Nowadays everyone is telling us what to eat and not to eat. Our grandmothers gardened, exchanged recipes and didn’t fret over the latest fad. They cooked what was available and didn’t have elaborate meal plans.

They didn’t have all the gadgets and gizmos that our society tells you that you need when having a baby. One walk down the baby aisle of the local department store has you wondering how on earth they made it without the latest “must-haves?” They had cloth diapers, a few wooden toys, and a whole lot of love…and they raised those babies just fine.

They didn’t have an elaborate planner system. The jotted down things on a pad and paper at most. Now, not only do we have planners, we have decorations for those planners…and an infinite amount of resources on how to make them pretty.

Life is short. Do I want to spend it reading about how to live or living it?


Do I want to spend time on dressing everything up or enjoying what I have been given?

I want to get back to simple. Our grandmothers and great-grandmothers did just fine without Pinterest boards, meal plans, chore charts, and organizational methods.  They did what they knew, handed down to them from generation to generation.

I want to get back to simple. I want to focus on relationships more than things. People more than stuff.

Recently we began watching shows on HGTV. I love the entertainment of it and we enjoy them immensely. But I saw what happens when our culture focuses on these details. Just a few episodes in, and I started looking around my house at all the things that are wrong (according to the experts on TV).  It stirred up a (momentary) feeling of discontent. Now, this is from someone who LOVES her house. I truly do. I don’t mind that it is basic and not decorated elaborately. I am not into paint colors or the perfect wall hangings. But, I could easily see how distracting it can be when these images tell us how much better we can have it.

Better how? A house that is perfectly decorated, or what I do in that house? Even more, what we do outside of that house. We are intentionally using every bit of our home and property to give back. We want to use it for His glory, and that has nothing to do with how it is decorated.

I want to get back to simple. My own mind can be cluttered enough without adding every new idea that comes along into it.

Back in the day, homes were smaller. People worked hard with what they were given. Folks lingered and knew each other. People took time for each other, in real life. Nowadays socialization takes place behind a screen.

Our grandmothers and great-grandmothers got it right. A simple life lived well. 

Are you with me? Let’s get back to simple. Spend time outside this summer and living life with those you love. Spend time on things that matter. Trust your instincts and trust God. He has already given us all we need to live our lives well–His Word.

Stop chasing after a decorated life and live a meaningful one. Trade elaborate details for simple living. Choose your time wisely.

Life is short. Don’t spend time wasted on the noise of this world. Live life like our grandmothers did. Bring back simple.

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A Boy and His Box…

There’s nothing like seeing a boy in action. 

Seeing his mind work.

He came to me one day and said he wanted to learn to build a box with a lid.
I told him to figure it out and he could.

He sketched it.
He planned it.
He measured.
He went with daddy to buy the supplies.
He cut.
He nailed.
He sanded.
He worked.

When it was complete, he was so excited.

It’s the little things. The simple things. 
No electronics. 
No entertainment.

A boy and his mind.
His hands.
His desire to learn something.
Accomplishing something.

Yes, it’s the simple things that make me smile.

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