Be Back Soon.

23 01 2008

Hopefully tomorrow I can get back to my series on Stewardship, but for now we are living in a hotel (a two bedroom suite I have to add).  After a wonderful weekend with 8 other girls scrapbooking, I came home to a water leak in our wall!  With thousands of dollars worth of damage, we are now living away from home until we have hot water.

 Let me give a little plug for State Farm homeowners insurance, they ROCK!  They are paying for our hotel, all our meals out to eat, all of the damage (minus our 1000 dollar deductable, I know that is a lot, but we could be paying a WHOLE lot more).  They have set up all the workers to come to my home, I just get a call and show up that day and deal with who they have sent out.  Today the floor guys are coming to measure for new flooring in the laundry room and padding in the master bedroom!  They will repaint after the new drywall goes in, and they will pay for the molding and floor etc.

It may cost a little more a month to have a great company, but I LOVE having an actual person to talk to everyday about the jobs being done!

I hope to be back in our home tomorrow, but that depends on how the water and mold guys do today.  It has to be totally dry before the wall and floor guys can get here done, and then the plummer will come and put in the hot water tank etc.

Oh the joys of owning a home.  More later.

Stewardship: The Great Food Exchange

16 01 2008

This one is for you momlovesbeingathome. Many of you know that we eat on very little $$$. Well, let me tell you one little secret…we are on WIC (Woman, Infants and Children) a food program for lower income mommy and their babies. While Dave is in school we don’t make that much, but to tell you the truth, when we are not on it we still eat for only 250 dollars a month! So here are some tips…..

1. Buy bone in chicken. Yesterday at Meijer I got it for only 89 cents a pound. I stock up on this when it goes under a dollar! There are lots of great recipes on that use bone in chicken.

2. I make most of the extra breads (rolls, muffins, pizza crust, etc.) by hand. I buy whole wheat flour and switch it into my breads. You can do a 1/2 exchange and not have to modify the recipe. For example if chocolate chip cookies call for 2 cups of flour you can put in 1 cup white and 1 cup whole wheat. This makes your foods a lot healthy and they fill you up on less!

3. We eat a lot of leftovers for lunches. Now granted I only have preschoolers and toddlers at home, but as they get bigger I will have to add more lunch foods into our recipes.

4. When you buy a ‘special’ ingredient for a recipe, make sure you find more recipes that use that same ingredient so it doesn’t go to waste (like poppy seeds etc.)

5. Make you breakfasts! This may sound silly, but cereal is EXPENSIVE!!! Make a bunch of homemade pancakes (will cost you about 1.25 for about 30 of them). You can make them a head of time and then freeze them between sheets of wax paper and in a ziplock bag (or off brand like I would do). Now if your child eats 2 pancakes for breakfast, you just made them for only 8 cents a serving!!!! Now you can add a banana and a glass of milk and they have a very filling breakfast. Now they won’t be crawling back into the kitchen after only an hour, saving you on snacks!

6. Buy in season and stock up. I buy Zucchini when it is only cents for a pound when it is in season. I shred it and freeze it for Zucchini bread in the winter (this is another cheap and great breakfast, with a little butter and juice!)

7. We only use butter, so when it goes for $1.50 for a pound, I stock up and put it in the freezer! It will keep for 6 months at least.

8. Find dinners that don’t use a lot of meat. Chicken casseroles are good for this. They make the meat go a long way, so are tacos! If you have a VERY large family and a deep freeze, consider buying a 1/4 or 1/2 of a cow at a local beef farm. I know this sounds crazy, but families with 8 plus people this is very helpful and you can get all kinds of cuts of beef for almost 50-75% cheaper than you would at the store. The only problem is you need to have the money up front, this maybe an option for you. (Maybe one day for us 🙂 )

9. Shop when the shelves are full and you are not hungry. (I know most of you already know that, but it is always good to hear again). We shop on Monday or Tuesday mornings. The shelves are restocked for the weekend and it is not as busy so I don’t rush as much. When you go the store and they are out of something you are more willing to replace it with something you don’t need or you go back for it (and when do we EVER go back for only one thing!).

10. If your store has a clearance area for food, go and look. I will usually go there and pick up something for dinner that night. It is still good food, they just have to sell it within a few days. This is a great way to get most of a meal for only a few bucks! I will sometimes leave an opening on my meal planning sheet just for this! Just make sure that opening is that evening or the next.

Now, I will do an entirely different post on infants and saving money. I am sitting for 2 extra kids for 2 night and 3 days, so I will post it when I get to it. :-).

Stewardship: Meal Planning and Saving Money at the Grocery Store

15 01 2008

Okay, I want you to know that this can be a little overwhelming at first, but once you get the hang of it it will come naturally. Meal planning takes me about 1 hour every other Sunday afternoon. I sit down after the kids are napping, pull out my cookbooks etc. get me a cup of tea and go at it. I plan everything from breakfast to snacks. Here is a little view of how I do it…..

1. I print off meal planning sheet (if someone can tell me how to link a word document to this I will post it ASAP)

2. I pull out cook books and recipes

3. I look to see what is on sale at Meijer (local food store I shop at, they even do free antibiotics for the 8 most common ones!!!, I will post more on ways to save with your kids in another post).

4. I start filling in the spaces on my meal planning sheet. The sheet has a place for breakfast, snack, lunch, dinner and snack for everyday of the week. When I fill in a space, for example, stir fry for dinner on Monday night I write down every ingredient I need to buy from the store on a separate piece of paper. I do this for every meal and snack. For Tuesday night I put what we are having for dinner then I write what I need to buy for it on the same sheet of paper I did for Monday night (this becomes your shopping list).

Now to keep with being good stewards of our family’s health we need to make sure we are getting them every food group etc. So for example I would write (in the Monday spot for stir fry) Rice, Mixed Veggies, Chicken and fruit salad. This gives them their protein, veggies, carbs and fruit making it a well rounded meal. I also fill in their snacks the same way! I will try to post later next week a list of good “snack” ideas for kids that include a quick sugar, carb and protein.

After you have done this for EVERY meal and snack you have completed your grocery shopping list. Now when you go to the store do not venture away from this list. If you do you will over spend and end up with lots of stuff in your house you don’t need. Also, be honest with yourself. Do you need a new meal every night of the week? We have a left overs night once a week. I also use leftovers from dinner for lunches later on in the week. This way I don’t have to buy a bunch of lunch foods everyweek.

A few tips to help this work are to write the cookbook and page number with the meal you are planning. Also, don’t over do “snacks” etc. I plan on two desserts a week that I make; we then only have a little bit everyday or none on some days, keeping our empty calories in check.

I plan my meals out in two week increments, because that is when I get paid. You may have to make your list for one week at a time, which if fine, do what works for YOUR family. Also, I make almost everything my hand! This keeps my grocery budget at 225 dollars a month for a family of 5 (and that includes all personal items and cleaning supplies). I don’t buy pre-made rolls in the refrigerator section, I make them in the bread maker, I do the same for pizza crust etc. Instead of buying the frozen crock pot meals at the store, go buy all the ingredients and make it yourself, you will save TONS of money a year. A way to think about it is……prepackaged saves you time but cost you money. If you want to keep your budget in check try making most of your meals by scratch.

Also, stock up on items you use regularly when they go on sale. We use a lot of flour and sugar in our home, so when those go cheep I stock up. We also have a meatless meal a week; this makes me get creative with vegetarian meals and saves on money.

Stewardship: With My Family’s Health

10 01 2008

As the main care-giver of my children and the chef cook in the house I am responsible for my children’s eating habits and for the food that goes on the table at dinner time. I do the grocery shopping in my home and the meal planning (more on that tomorrow). With that being said I take full responsibility for the way my children eat. I feel it is so important that we teach our children how to eat healthy so that they can be and do all that God wants them to in their lives.

To start we need to make sure we are feeding our children (and husbands) healthy foods. During the day I want to make sure my children have healthy choices for foods and that their blood sugar stays at a healthy range, keeping them from having so many tantrums or sugar highs and lows. To help with this I set up an eating plan for my kids (after the age of 1, we feed on demand, about every 2.5-3.5 hours for infants). My kids wake up and have breakfast around 8, then a snack around 10, then lunch around noon, then a snack when they wake up around 4, then dinner around 5:30, then another snack around 7:30. My kids eat often and usually have smaller meals. Each meal consists of a veggie (except breakfast), a fruit, a protein and a carb. I try to make each snack consist of a protein, a complex carb and a “quick sugar”, like juice or a fruit. Here is an example of their day:

Breakfast: Cereal (complex carb), Milk (protein), and a fruit (quick sugar) Snack: Crackers (complex carb) with peanut butter (protein) and Juice (quick sugar) Lunch: Tomato Soup (veggie), Crackers (complex carb) and a fruit Snack: Gold Fish crackers (complex carb) and Milk (protein) Dinner: Chicken (protein), Green beans (veggie), Salad (veggie), potatoes (complex carb)

I try to buy all their snack foods with Whole Wheat (even goldfish have that now!). I also try to encourage them to try new things, by having them pick out the foods at the grocery store, they love it!

I also feel it is my job to make sure they are not eating tons of sugar, fats or fried foods. I know it can get hard trying to cook every night, but you don’t have to! They can still eat healthy and not be given prepackaged foods. (I will explain more on that tomorrow). Also, remember that most children over the age of 1 can eat what you eat. Don’t make yourself a healthy meal then make your children’s meal chicken nuggets and mac and cheese. You are not teaching your child how to eat healthy or that you are not a short order cook. My kids eat what we eat, unless their is a food allergy.

I hope this helps with Stewardship with your families health. Check out a post Iwrote about Fresh is Best.  This may help if your kiddos don’t like too many fruits and veggies.

Stewardship: With my Time

9 01 2008

As a stay at home mom of 3 children 3 and under I seem to never have enough time in the day. This past year I put into practice making sure I get everything done. Now I am not saying this is in a prideful type of “get everything done” way, I mean this is a way to serve my family.

First I started with my priorities. I listed them in order of what I needed to get done everyday. My list included making meals, spending time with God, playing with my kids, doing housework, running errands and home schooling. After I made my list I then made a daily schedule of what our day looks like. After that I filled in everything the kids need during the day.

I then listed all the chores I have to do everyday. For example, I empty and load the dishwasher everyday, sweep the floor, tidy the bathroom etc. Then I listed things I have to do weekly. For example, change sheets, dust, clean the bathroom, vacuum etc. I then make a weekly cleaning schedule of what I need to do each day of the week. I have to do 2 loads of laundry a day to keep up with my family (that is 14 loads a week, 2 per person, towels and cloth diapers). Now that I had my cleaning schedule I felt like a HUGE bolder was lifted off my back. It is easier to relax in the evenings with my husband when I know I have gotten what I needed to do that day done. As a mom chores can seem like they are never ending, with this system I feel like I can “leave” my job and enjoy my family.

With my time I also needed to make sure that I was doing things to save time while doing my housework. When it comes to laundry I found that if I clean the clothes that all go in one room together I save hours a week! For example, when it comes time to wash the kid’s clothes I go into Isaac and Grace’s room (they share a room) and I gather their clothes and wash, dry and put them into ONE laundry basket. Now when it comes time to put their clothes away I just walk into their room with their basket and put the clothes away. This keeps me from having to run all over the house putting things away. It is so much easier to wash and put the towels away when they are all together.

When it comes to my chores I have noticed that it helps to have them all laid out. On the day I wash the floors I also clean the bathroom because I already have the cleaning stuff out. On the day I dust I also vacuum etc.

Now that you have your schedule figured out for your time you also need to remember ONE very important thing!!! DO NOT let your kids go all day without you playing with them. This may sound really silly to many of you, but if you really think about it, it is really easy to be doing your stuff and just let them play by themselves most of the morning etc. It is easy to have them play in their room while you clean the kitchen or watch TV. while you do the dishes etc. To help you not do this sit down with your kids and play for about 15 minutes, then go and clean for about 15 minutes, then repeat. You will find that your kids come less often and interrupt you because they know that you will return shortly and play with them some more.

When it comes to your time with the Lord you need to make sure you are having it EVERYDAY! I am the first to admit I can easily get busy and forget to have my time with the Lord. Find a time that works for you and keep it. Think of it like a “date” with the Lord. We wouldn’t stand up our husbands if they invited us out for coffee, right?

Now that we have covered being a steward with my time, check out an older post I wrote about on Contenment. You may find it helpful as well.

Stewardship: Intoduction

9 01 2008

Over the next week I am going to be posting on stewardship. As a child of the King I am commanded to be a good steward of my resources, my family and my home. This can be VERY hard while living in Seminary. My husband only works part-time while he goes to school full-time and I only work 8 hours a week. With 5 mouths to feed and not a lot of help around the house (do to my husband’s demanding schedule) I need to diligent in my time and the money I have.

I am going to share with you ways to save on your grocery budget, your baby’s needs (diapers, food, medicine etc), your time cleaning and time with your family. We need to be serving our families and if we are over spending on groceries, spending too little time cleaning, not feeding our families healthy foods or spending too little time with our children, we are actually doing them an in-service instead of a service.

I look forward to sharing with you some tips I have learned over the years from some far wiser woman.