Throughout the next month the focus is going to be on saving money. No pressure on my part as that leads to nothing but guilt, and therefore failure. However, when I do find myself doing ‘the right thing’ I want to focus on it and think about how I can make it that much better. (My motto, “Little Drops of Awesome“)
There will be a lot of trust. Trust that this focus is important, necessary, part of managing the household. It helps with some of the stress on my marriage. It helps me feel like a better manager of God’s provisions. Money doesn’t bring happiness but I’d sure like to try peace in knowing I’m doing the right thing does.
Getting Comfortable in the Kitchen
I have to admit it. I hated cooking. I got frustrated in taking the time to make a meal only to hear “I don’t like this”, “I’m not going to eat this”, “This smells funny”. (Ah being the mother of picky eaters is not easy.) I had no idea my own children could unknowingly tear me down like that. But I’ve also seen that if I don’t take the time to enjoy doing what needs to be done I get very crabby and the “witching hour” turns me into a witch. Yikes!
So over the years, yes, I’m a slow learner, I’ve picked up some tips that I want to share with you. These are tips that have made me really enjoy the hours leading up to dinner around the table. By preparing food at home I’m helping save money. Money that can be used for family time together, money used to pay down debt, money to help others that need it.
- Have a weekly schedule. Each week I have a format for what we will have. We have sandwich type of meals once a week (hamburgers, sloppy joes, Italian sausage on rolls, etc etc). Soup another meal (a favorite for Hubs and me). Crockpot once a week. Meatless at least once a week. Seafood every other week. The rest of the week tend to be chicken or beef meals. Then every Saturday night is leftover night! [If perhaps there aren’t any leftovers (a once a quarter occasion) we can splurge on pizza ;)] Having a schedule helps me start with a format when I get down to the nitty gritty of …
- Plan your meals for the week. I know this isn’t a new idea. Moms across the blogosphere have mentioned the value of meal-planning. It saves time, money, sanity. So I’ll leave it at that. Just do it! My one tip is make your meal-plan somewhere that you will use. I happen to do mine on google calendar. It is easy to move things around when necessary and plan sometimes even a month in advance when I want to make sure I use one of the freezer meals (we’ll get there, #9)
- Involve the family. When I am working on my menu I ask others what they want. It has become an easy topic of conversation now even around the table. “Next week, Mom, can we have chicken pot pie?” Then I know at least one person (if not most or all) will be happy with dinner. When I first started asking I got a lot of “I don’t cares” but with some persistence and positive reinforcement (like, “Thanks for helping me plan dinners”) they are all very good about giving me some fresh ideas or old favorites.
- Get to the grocery store. Once that menu is planned make a run to the grocery store with a list of what you need for the week. Grab the coupons (for what is on your list) and then stick to the list! I hate hate hate getting ready to make dinner and realizing I don’t have all the ingredients. It will set me into a funk. It helps the budget, the mood and the mindset if I’m prepared.
- Find a meal you love. Last night I made Chicken Pot Pie with homemade crust. It was a bit of work but folks know I make a mean chicken-pot pie. It gives me pride in my ‘work’ (back to that “Little Drops of Awesome” motto). Plus, the new apron from Christmas, paired with a glass of wine, sure help a lot!
- Keep some prepared meals in the freezer. Freezer cooking is economical too but I’m all about keeping one or two prepackaged meals (which are a little more costly then home cooked, major bummer) for the afternoons that have just gone hay-wire. Watch for commissary deals and/or coupons and stock up with three or four meals for ‘just in case’.
- On a related note Once a month do some freezer cooking. I can easily mix up a stew for dinner but prepare it in a big batch. I put tonight’s dinner in the crock pot and then freeze three other family portions for other nights. I can then pop them in the crock pot, frozen solid, when that meal is on the agenda. Dinner preparations are done!
- Teach the kids to help. My boys have helped set the table since they were 2 1/2. (Yes, the toddler can very easily put a fork on each napkin.) Initially it may will make for groans and moans but in the long run you are doing everyone a huge favor by making it a habit. Also, when one of my boys offers to help me make dinner, and stick around long enough to actually help, they don’t have to help their brothers set the table. It aligns right with my long term goal of them being comfortable cooking too. I am teaching them to help then they can eventually flutter their wings outside of the house and are empowered as a grown up in their own kitchen.
- Turn on some music. A few years ago Hubs bought a small speaker system for my iPad. I can plug in my tablet or phone and turn my favorite Pandora station or preloaded music and cook with some enjoyable background music. Music is great for the soul and the right music makes cooking a lot of fun!
- Pour a glass of wine. When I’m making something that takes a little more time to prepare and cook I love pouring a glass and sipping away while cooking. It sets the mood for love for cooking.
– Leanne from MilitaryAvenue.com
Leanne is an Army spouse, mother of four boys, Air Force brat, child of God. She believes strongly in the imporance of financial empowerment for our young military-families. It affects marriages, military-readiness, self-worth, every part of our lives. Want to find more resources for financial education? Follow our Pinterest board: Military Family Financial Readiness