A Complete Meal in 15 Minutes – From Start to Finish

It’s a complete meal, and I made it in 15 minutes from start to finish. Look how beautiful:

sliced-ham3

First let’s talk about pork for a little bit.

I like feeding my family hormone-free meat, antibiotic-free meat, grass fed meat, free range meat, all the happy, healthy kinds of meat.

But sometimes I compromise.

I have great local sources for chicken, lamb, and beef. But I almost always buy my piggies at the store. We don’t have pork very often, but shucks, pork is so delicious. We love bacon, ham, and sausage. My boys are athletes and often ask for meat in the morning (and all day long). I’ve decided that in order to keep life simpler (and to avoid completely killing my already very high grocery budget) – I’ll go ahead and buy pork products when I find them on sale at a regular grocery store.

I don’t feel great about this, but I guess I feel good enough about it that I haven’t stopped doing it. So that’s that.

sliced-ham2

So now let’s get on with the fun part where I tell you how you can put a complete meal on the table in 15-minutes from start to finish!

A Complete Meal in 15 Minutes

Sometimes I buy a pre-cooked ham as pictured above. I slice it all and put it in a Pyrex dish in the fridge to pull out as needed for quick lunches or to go with eggs at breakfast.

Having this on hand is fantastic! This sliced ham fries up within a few minutes in a skillet. We’ll steam some peas and pull out the mixed greens and salad dressing. We’ll prep some fruit. Just like that, we’ve got a complete meal ready to eat.

complete-meal-in-15-minutes

If you don’t feel good about eating pork, there are Turkey Ham options available – or maybe you’d enjoy another variety of meat that fries up quickly to complete your meal.

Either way: Never forget the ease of steaming a veggie, prepping some fruit, and pulling out fresh greens to complete a meal. This is THE way I make our meals simple and nourishing. The variety of fruits and vegetables is so good for our bodies and feeding us like this takes only a tiny bit of effort!

Are you pork eaters at your house? What meals have you found to be easy enough to throw together in just a few minutes?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Join all of us who are enjoying Simple Meals!

728x90

A Special Gift Package from MadeOn with Free Shipping! (The BEST way to care for dry hands!!!)

Ask and you shall receive.

That is, my hands are threatening to dry up this winter and I thought yours might be too. So I emailed Renee, owner of MadeOn Hard Lotion and asked if she’d rescue us all by putting together a special deal to save us. She came through in a big way. Not only are our hands saved, so are our lips, our bodies, and everything in the whole wide world.

Plus she gave us free shipping.

You’d think I was exaggerating unless you, too, have been a dry hand sufferer. Having the problem under control instead of having dry, cracked, and bleeding hands all winter – with all other lotions making the problem worse – truly does make everything in the world seem better.

You have yourselves to thank for this special offer. I fell in love with her products several winters ago, I shared them with you, you fell in love with her products, she continues to do whatever she can to keep us happy. Renee is a joy to work with, there’s no doubt.

Personally, I never go without her BeeSilk Hard Lotion Bar. It truly is different from any other lotion and I never will use another.

Here’s the deal

Renee has put these Dry Skin Fix 3-Packs in three varieties:

A. Basic Beesilk Pack $12: includes a pocket size Beesilk lotion bar, natural lip balm and unscented goat milk soap
B. Beesilk Jr Pack for Sensitive Skin $12: a pocket size Beesilk Jr (softer than a bar), natural lip balm and unscented goat milk soap
C. Au Chocolat Pack (scented) $13: a pocket size Au Chocolat lotion bar (natural chocolate scent), a peppermint lip balm and Cappuccino goat milk soap

dry-skin-fix-aff-2T

The package price for these is a big discount, and she’s giving us free shipping too. (Use the code HHship at checkout for free shipping to apply.)

Buy just one pack, buy fourteen packs. Shipping is free no matter your order size!

Renee is offering this through Friday, January 20 only – so stock up while you can. Have questions? I’m happy to answer. While Renee has many hard lotion fans, I think I’m her biggest. :)

Grab your Dry Skin Fix Packs here!

The links in this post are my affiliate links.

A Year of Simple Breakfasts

In case the title made you think I have 365 Simple Breakfast ideas to share with you, I have to apologize and let you know that while I do have many simple breakfast recipes, I do not have one for every day of the year. (After all, we do eat eggs pretty regularly at our house.) Rather, this post will share how I’m planning to keep our breakfasts as simple as possible this year! I bet the ideas shared here WILL get you through an entire year, with plenty of variety, and all kinds of simplicity!

Take, for example, the breakfast shown in this picture.

a-year-of-simple-breakfasts

One morning last week, I made and served Giant Breakfast Cookies, Bacon, and Strawberry Parfaits. Sounds involved right? Not at all simple! Complicated and time consuming, even!

But it wasn’t! It was so simple! Here’s how I did it:

  1. I had pre-made Breakfast Cookie dough balls in the freezer. (Read the details on how to do that here.) I simply pulled some out, put them on a baking sheet, and slid them into the oven to bake while I continued my morning Bible reading time.
  2. I had pre-made Bacon. (Read the details on how to do that here.) Just after I woke the boys, I threw some bacon in a skillet to reheat and crisp up. It took 30 seconds, no joke.
  3. I had already made the Cream Cheese Parfait filling for another meal a few days before. I pulled out what was left, washed and sliced some berries, and put them on the table.

The boys LOVED this breakfast (who wouldn’t?) and I loved having such a great meal to serve. What I loved more than anything is how simple it was to put on the table.

But what about taking all that time to prepare simple breakfasts ahead of time?

Sounds like the before-hand prep can negate the “simple” in all of this, huh? Sure, it’s easy to put it on the table if you’ve done all the work ahead of time – but who has time to do all that work ahead of time?

I get it. I don’t always have the time to get ahead either. But I’ve found that if take an hour or two in the kitchen sometime during the week – whenever I can find the spare hour or two – I can knock out quite a bit of cooking which saves me all kinds of time and energy later.

And…while I could fall back on boxed breakfast food if I really wanted to keep it simple, I don’t like doing that unless I’m desperate or especially over-scheduled. We love homemade food. We love a hot breakfast. There really are great ways to keep it simple!

How to Cook Bacon in the Oven, Freeze, and Warm Up Fast

oven-bacon-2

When to find a spare hour or two for cooking ahead?

It varies, and will be different for all of us depending on our work and family situation. Here are some time slots that sometimes (but not always) work for me:

  • In the morning after breakfast after I’ve gotten my kids going on their school work. This only works on mornings I don’t have any pressing blog work needs or deadlines. And it only works if my youngest is sitting at the kitchen table doing his work so I can bounce back and forth between cooking and helping to keep him on task.
  • In the late afternoon or early evening while I’m cooking dinner. After all, I’m in the kitchen then anyway. If the dinner meal is simple enough (and at this point, all my meals are kept simple) – I can sometimes stir up something for the freezer or put something into the oven to help me get ahead for another day.
  • Anytime I’m cooking something for today, I consider if I can double or triple up so I can have extra for another time. I do this with almost everything.

These “cooking ahead” methods work for any meal, but here are some specific breakfast ideas for getting ahead that help keep our morning meal times super simple!

1. Cook several pounds of Bacon Bits ahead of time.

I freeze these to pull out as needed. For a simple breakfast, pull out a scoop to quickly make Scrambled Bacon Cheesy Eggs.

How to Make Bacon Bits and Why You Should Make Them

2. Make 5-Minute Stove-Top Granola. 

Store it in a jar. Save it for a morning you have no time to cook. Serve it with a variety of your family’s favorite stir-in options.

5-Minute Stove-Top Granola

3. Make Dark Chocolate Almond Granola.

Use the 5-minute stove-top method if you like! This is our favorite granola and making it at home saves quite a bit of money compared to buying it at the store.

Dark Chocolate Almond Granola - A Great Make-Ahead Meal

4. Make Homemade Grape Nut Cereal.

This is super tasty and super easy! I typically double this recipe and keep it in big jars so we can have it on busy “no time to cook” mornings.

Homemade Grape Nuts

5. Make Homemade Cracklin’ Oat Bran.

This is our favorite of the homemade cereal options! It’s also super easy to make and stores great in jars in the pantry.

Make Your Own Cracklin' Oat Bran

Wait! Do I ever buy cereal at the store and serve cereal out of a box?!?

Of course. Remember this post? Just because I can, doesn’t mean I always do. Store bought cereal saves my neck some days. No guilt. ;) Now back to the Simple Homemade Breakfast ideas…

6. Make Breakfast Cookie Balls for the freezer.

As mentioned above, these are awesome to have in the freezer. I usually double the recipe, and freeze the dough in balls so I can pull out just enough for one meal. These can be frozen after you bake them too, but we like eating them fresh out of the oven!

Here’s our White Chocolate Cranberry Breakfast Cookie recipe too. :)

Breakfast Cookies for the Freezer

7. Make Homemade Poptarts for the Freezer.

Like the Breakfast Cookies, we like eating these right out of the oven. Again, I usually double the recipe, then freeze them and pull out just enough for one meal. They bake easily from their frozen state. I can throw them in the oven while I’m reading my Bible in the morning. So simple!

homemade-poptarts-for-the-freezer

8. Make muffins ahead of time and freeze them before baking.

This idea is my favorite. I often mix up several different batches of our favorite muffins, freeze the batter, then quickly bake them as needed!

silicone muffins 1

9. Make Stir-and-Pour Bread.

If I have this bread on hand (usually I make it the day before instead of the morning of) – we can make Peanut Butter Honey Toast or Scrambled Egg Sandwiches.

stir and pour bread loaf 5

10. Have cheese shredded to make it easy to make Scrambled Cheesy Eggs.

We love melted cheese on our eggs. If I have some shredded already, this makes breakfast so much simpler!

TIP: We use our Food Processor to shred cheese. I LOVE THIS!!! We can shred a huge 5-pound block of cheese in about two minutes. It’s worth owning a food processor just for the cheese shredding capability! (We have one like this.)

grated cheese

11. Make any of these 49 Breakfast Freezer Food ideas.

Frozen breakfasts are awesome to have on hand for simple meals!

49 Breakfast Freezer Foods

12. Make big batches of Turkey Sausage

I almost always make 12 pounds at once (the entire case of ground turkey I get in my Azure Standard order!). I bag it up in 1-pound bags. Since it’s precooked and crumbled, I can throw it in scrambled eggs or make a quick batch of Sausage Gravy.

Homemade Turkey Sausage

 

I would love to hear your ideas for Simple Breakfasts at your house!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Last Day for Simple Meals Discount!

728x90

Remember, Monday, January 16 is the last day you can get $12 off your Simple Meals subscription! Get all the details about Simple Meals here. You’ll LOVE all that is included!

Simple Meals will save you so much time and energy, giving you more time to enjoy your family!

Use the code SIMPLEYEAR12 to get $12 – through Monday night only!

Simple Meals
Your yearly subscription equips you with a 52 week's worth of meal plans, grocery guide, recipes, and bonus tips, plus you get over $60 worth of bonus eBooks! Your Simple Meals plan will arrive in your inbox each Thursday morning.
Price: $52.00

My Cow, My Cleaning Confessions, and Malachi’s Lego Convention

gratituesday[2]

I never met a cow I didn’t like. What I mean is – I really like eating beef. It is my favorite.

Rejoice with me, won’t you? We picked up one half of a cow last weekend. (I do not know which half. It’s better this way.) The cow came from trusted farmer friends who raise their animals in organic pasture. We also got a pasture-fed lamb (both halves) while we were at it. My grocery budget is completely wiped out for this month and next (though it all averages out in the end). Our freezers are bursting and we are so thankful.

freezer20172

I’ve spent time this week rearranging freezers to organize said cow and friend lamb. I’ve also been cleaning out closets and cabinets and throwing out/giving away anything that isn’t nailed down. Phew, it feels so good! Then I did something I’ve been wanting to do for about five years now:

I hired someone to help me clean my house.

Why have I put this off for so long? For oh so many reasons. It’s been hard to justify spending the money. My pride has been hesitant to admit that I can’t keep up. I’ve felt shy about someone seeing the places in my home that are filthy and disgusting after so much neglect. We still want our boys to take part in cleaning our home regularly so they’ll be prepared to be helpful husbands some day. So many reasons.

God finally made it clear that now is the time to reach out for help. (Or maybe I finally opened myself to listen better.) I feel overwhelmed almost daily while trying to juggle raising a houseful of teenage sons, love on their friends, keep up with their activities, work full time from home, school the boys from home, nurture my marriage, love and serve people from the community and church, put three healthy meals on the table every day, and take care of the house. Also?

I despise cleaning.

I always have. I do it because I love a clean home, but as the years have gone by and my days have become more full – much of the cleaning that needs to be done beyond basic upkeep has gotten pushed aside.

I don’t even know the last time I mopped my kitchen floor beyond spot cleaning.

With Matt’s blessing, I finally called someone. We believe we came away with a win-win after our initial visit. Our cleaning help/friend will come just once each month for a 3-hour time slot (and for a very reasonable price). She’ll do the cleaning jobs we never get around to: kitchen windows and woodwork (cabinet fronts too), the kitchen floor, the master bedroom, stairway woodwork, and she’ll thoroughly clean both bathrooms from top to bottom.

Hallelujah! In the meantime, our boys will continue their regular weekly chores of sweeping/vacuuming/dusting the living room, cleaning the bathrooms, doing the laundry, and all the other daily dishes/trash/compost/recycling/etc. duties we give them.

I can’t tell you how grateful I am that the cleaning tasks will not be constantly looming over my head any more! And when I showed my cleaning lady the areas I needed help with, she didn’t even bat an eye over the grossness. Bless her.

So let’s see…I shared about my cow and my cleaning confessions. Now to tell you about Malachi’s Lego Convention.

nebrickska3

Our twelve year old, who loves Legos more than anything in the world, has been dreaming of and planning a Lego Convention for a year and a half. (He’s visionary like his daddy.) Matt has been amazing to help develop the idea with him over the past few months. They decided to go for it, and they named their venture NeBricksKa (because it is a convention held here in Nebraska and Legos are bricks – get it?).

They made plans, they made flyers, they called schools, they reserved our church fellowship hall. Matt deserves “Dad of the Year” for helping Malachi with this and truly, Malachi has astounded us with his dedication to take on such a huge project. He worked for months to create his display and promote the event.

It happened last Saturday morning, and it was fantastic. (Don’t even ask how we managed to squeeze in such a convention between Thursday night basketball games, Friday night basketball games, and Saturday afternoon basketball games. Nobody got much sleep last weekend, but boy did we have fun. Our schedules are further confirmation that I need help keeping up with housework – and why I’m declaring this the Year of Simple!)

Just over 40 people came with displays. The kids all walked around from table to table as each child shared what they had built. I couldn’t stop smiling. It was Malachi’s dream come true, and to be sure, he will be hosting this again next year with big hopes that word will spread and that the convention will grow bigger and bigger each year!

nebrickska1

nebrickska2


nebrickska4

nebrickska5

nebrickska6

That sums up some of our family’s latest ventures in the new year! And now it’s your turn:

What blessings are you celebrating so far this year?

Limited Time Simple Meals $12 Discount!

As we kick off the Year of Simple, I really want to encourage everyone to join our Simple Meals program!

learn-more-about-simple-meals

Why should you join Simple Meals?

  • So you’ll have more down time to spend enjoying your family! <—- That’s the number one reason. :)
  • All the meals are simple (of course), delicious, and family friendly.
  • You’ll save much time and energy!!
  • Meal planning is done for you.
  • Grocery lists are made for you.
  • Every week you get bonus time-saving tips and extra recipes.
  • Every week you get current bonus money-saving tips.
  • Subscribers get oodles of freebies!
  • You can earn money when you refer your friends!

Read all about Simple Meals here.

We know you’ll love it!

Big news this week!

Through Monday, January 16 you can get $12 off your Simple Meals subscription! That is a huge discount along with the $56 worth of freebies you get when you purchase. With this discount, you can enjoy Simple Meals for just pennies per week!

Use the code SIMPLEYEAR12 to take $12 off your Simple Meals subscription. Can’t wait to have you on board!

Simple Meals
Your yearly subscription equips you with a 52 week's worth of meal plans, grocery guide, recipes, and bonus tips, plus you get over $60 worth of bonus eBooks! Your Simple Meals plan will arrive in your inbox each Thursday morning.
Price: $52.00

Simple Overnight Saucy Crock Pot Chicken (Lunch is ready when you get up for the day!)

This Simple Overnight Saucy Crock Pot Chicken idea might be one of my favorite Simple Tips/Recipes of the new year!

It takes five minutes of “work” to make this before you go to bed at night. It’s brainless. It involves no measuring or dirtying of dishes. You can practically sleep walk your way around this (which is precisely how I do everything after 10:00 pm). Best of all: No chickens have to be thawed in the making of this recipe.

bbq-chicken2

How this recipe/idea came about…

It was a cold, windy, dark Friday night (adjectives added for dramatic effect). It had been a long, exhausting, busy week (and this is different from other weeks, how?). Saturday, we had a full day of basketball games scheduled in a town two hours away. We needed to pack breakfast to eat on the way and lunch to eat between games. Friday night we were finally getting around to figuring out food for the road the next day.

I eagerly decided to get creative! (In other words, I didn’t have bread or lunch meat in the house and I didn’t want to go to the store.)

We have learned that big, meaty chef salads between basketball games are great for our boys who need to eat something substantial and full of protein, but not terribly heavy.

I decided we could certainly do Chicken Chef Salads to eat between games – if only I had thought ahead enough to cook some chicken for these salads. Frozen, raw chicken just isn’t the same. But then I thought, “what if?” The best ideas are born when you think to yourself, “what if?”

So I dumped some frozen, raw, boneless chicken thighs into the crock pot, dumped on some BBQ sauce, plugged in the crock pot (always, always plug it in), turned it on (also important), and went to bed.

The next morning the house smelled marvelous. After all, I had been slow-cooking BBQ Chicken all night – like a boss – while I slept.

The end of this story was supposed to include the fact that we quickly shredded the chicken in the morning and made ourselves some wonderful chef salads before heading out the door for the day. But as it turned out, the weather was terrible, the games were canceled, and the boys got so excited about the chicken when they got out of bed that they ate it for breakfast.

Who am I to say no? I wanted some too.

simple-saucy-overnight-crock-pot-chicken

Simple Overnight Saucy Crock Pot Chicken

Simple Overnight Saucy Crock Pot Chicken
 
Author:
Serves: 4-6
Ingredients
  • 1-3 pounds frozen, boneless chicken thighs or breasts
  • 1-2 cups of your favorite sauce (bbq, teriyaki, sweet and sour, etc)
Instructions
  1. Place frozen chicken in a crock pot.
  2. Pour sauce over the chicken.
  3. Cook on low for 7-10 hours overnight.

This is hardly a recipe. This is a “use your favorite sauce” and “pour it on whatever chicken you have in your freezer” idea. It’s the simplest thing to do and you can use your deliciously cooked meat in whatever way you need it the following day. Pack it in a lunch to take to work. Make it into a salad. Save it for lunch to eat at home after a busy morning of living life. Pack it to take to away games to eat while sitting in the bleachers. Or most definitely:

Go ahead and eat it for breakfast. Sometimes this can’t be helped.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Other Simple Recipes I’ve Shared Recently:

It’s recipes like this that makes Simple Meals such a life saver for families. We’ll provide the plans. We’ll provide the recipes. We’ll provide the grocery list. All you have to do is take a deep breath and enjoy how simple your life in the kitchen has become! Join Simple Meals!

728x90

Simple Parmesan Broiled Fish (10-minutes from start to finish!)

I was going to call this Simple Cheesy Fish Dish – you know – because it rhymed and was cute. But then I was like, “What a weird and not-very-appetizing name. Let’s change it to Simple Parmesan Broiled Fish. People will want to make it if it has a better name.”

broiled-parmesan-fish

I sure hope you all appreciate all the thought and trouble I go to in preparing these recipes and laboring to come up with their names. There is no end to all the decisions I have to make around here.

But in actual news, and what you really need to know about this recipe is how easy it is. You broil the fish. While it is broiling, you mix up a few ingredients to spread over the top. You spread it on. You broil it all a little longer. In ten minutes the fish is completely done and ready to serve.

Ten minutes. Maybe I should have called this Ten-Minute Fish Dish. But seriously, though.

Simple Parmesan Broiled FishYum

5.0 from 1 reviews
Simple Parmesan Broiled Fish
 
Author:
Serves: 4-6
Ingredients
  • 2 pounds fish, any kind (cod, tilapia, halibut, flounder, salmon)
  • ¾ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • ⅓ cup melted butter
  • ¼ cup mayonnaise (I use Hain Safflower mayo)
  • 3 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • 3 Tablespoons dried minced onion
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste
  • Splash of hot sauce (we like Cholula)
Instructions
  1. Lay fish pieces in a buttered 9x13 inch baking dish.
  2. Broil for 8-10 minutes in the oven.
  3. In the meantime, mix the remaining ingredients in a bowl.
  4. Removed broiled fish from the oven and spread on the cheese mixture.
  5. Broil for an additional 2 minutes.

simple-parmesan-broiled-fish

This fish has incredible flavor! We have also found that the sauce tastes great with the steamed veggies we eat with this meal. There’s just something about cheese and butter and mayo all together that makes a great sauce. So if the sauce from your fish runs over your plate into your veggies – be grateful. The entire meal will taste better this way!

Other Simple Recipes I’ve Shared Recently:

It’s recipes like this that makes Simple Meals such a life saver for families. We’ll provide the plans. We’ll provide the recipes. We’ll provide the grocery list. All you have to do is take a deep breath and enjoy how simple your life in the kitchen has become! Join Simple Meals!

728x90

 

Want to Join Me for “A Year of Simple”?

I have no idea how my kids are getting so old when clearly, I am staying so young. (That sentence was obviously not written with a straight face, but with one beginning to show several laugh lines.)

Over the Christmas holiday, we were so blessed to spend a day with some of our former college friends. As if no time had passed since 1991, we laughed and shared memories and acted like we were twenty again. Then we looked across the room at all of our kids, and wondered how it came to be that we actually have a kid going to the same college we had gone to together just a few short years ago??

Y’all. I have an adult child. My other kids will also be adults the day after tomorrow. This is not new information. But sometimes the realization knocks me over the head. How did I get here? How did this happen?

coppinger-time-lapse

It is this realization – knowing that time flies and the years are short – that lands me in a place of wanting to get rid of everything that is not essential. If it’s not nailed down, out it goes. If it’s overwhelming, I’m off-loading. God has been calling me to simplify as never before.

why-im-choosing-a-year-of-simple

I’ve been making lists of what I feel is priority. It is surprisingly short.

  1. Love God
  2. Love my husband
  3. Love my kids
  4. Love myself
  5. Love my neighbor

While this sounds simple in and of itself, you and I both know how much all of that involves. There are so many essentials involved with loving all the people, and we all know the food doesn’t cook itself. My days are filled with:

  • Feeding my family well
  • Teaching and training our boys
  • Taking part in our boys’ outside activities
  • Caring for several people in our community and in our church family
  • Managing my home
  • Maintaining this website
  • Dozens of other tasks
  • Take a day of rest each week

It is these priorities along with these essentials that leave me a bit in a quandary. While the lists are short, they are very involved. How to juggle? How to manage? How to remain in a state of peace and joy while keeping top priorities and managing the essentials? God gave us 24 hours each day on purpose. But even while cutting out much during the past few years and saying no more than saying yes, I’m still overwhelmed much of the time. My conclusion is that there is no way to do life perfectly and also…

I must simplify as much as possible

My family and my ministries require much of my energy – much more, even, than when my kids were little. Saying “no” to all the good things that pull at me but aren’t God’s best for me is my only solution to receiving peace, especially as I have come to realize that God has not called me to do all and be all. All He asks of me is to seek Him. This is the only way His answers for my daily life become clear.

Thus, I am excited to explore the next few months of The Year of Simple. 

Join me?

Simple doesn’t give way to laziness. Simple means we’ll work smarter, not harder. Simple means we’ll seek to go about our days with God’s best in mind, cutting out all that hinders and everything that keeps us from looking up to Jesus (Hebrews 12:1-2). This will look different for each of us.

What I’m planning for a Year of Simple at Heavenly Homemakers is…

To encourage all of us care for our families in the simplest ways possible so we can keep our top priorities at the top. This will include:

  • More Simple Recipes – We’ve still gotta eat. We still want healthy meals. But let’s learn more about keeping it simple. (Simple Meals is one of the best ways to simplify our kitchen lives, hands down! Everyone should take part in this!)
  • Simple Kitchen and Homemaking Tips – I’ll continue to share ways of managing our homes by working smarter, not harder.
  • Simple Truths – God continues to reveal His perfect and simple Truth as I study and meditate on His Word. Lies fade as Truth overpowers. As God directs, I’ll share what I’m learning.
  • Simple Fun – But of course.

I don’t think it matters what season of life you are in. Whether you have no children, baby children, growing children, teenage children, adult children, a spouse, no spouse – no matter who you are and what your current time of life holds for you – we can all get so wrapped up in being so busy with all the busyness that we forget to take part in what is most important.

What if we all learn together how to let go of the non-essentials, to ask for help when we need it, and to walk in peace as we trust that God will provide everything we need?

Each time I think about how God can help me simplify, I feel great joy. I take in a deep breath. I see the lovely that is around me. Often the lovely is covered in a layer of dust and smells like sweaty socks. Lovely doesn’t mean perfect. Lovely means fully being in the moment to recognize that God’s mercies are new every morning and that He is at work in all things.

I look forward to spending 2017 with you. Join me in this Year of Simple!

What’s at least one way you seek to simplify your life this year?

For the Moms of Kids Who Don’t Like Veggies

Here’s what you need to know about my family:

Just because I promote the veggies, encourage the veggies, and always provide the veggies doesn’t mean my kids always love or want to eat the veggies.

Fruits and Veggies On the Go 2

Can you relate?

It drives me a little bit crazy until I remember that when I was a kid about the only veggie I ate was canned green beans. I finally learned to like iceburg lettuce when I was in college. Somehow I survived until I learned to love many different kinds of veggies. I want better for my kids, and thankfully, they are getting way more veggies than I ever did, even if it isn’t always what I would consider “enough.”

Veggies for veggie scramble

Some tips I’ve learned through 19 years of trying to get enough veggies into my kids:

1. Provide them for every meal.

They can’t learn to eat them and love them if you don’t buy them and serve them.

2. Offer a variety.

I don’t love every single veggie in the world, so why would I expect my kids to? Not all of my boys like the same veggies, but they all like some. I try to serve more than one at each meal. That means that sometimes they’ll get more than one if they like everything I serve. But even if they don’t, they can at least choose the ones they like.

3. Sneak the spinach into (almost) everything.

You can’t even taste it. Check out this list of foods I tear spinach into while cooking.

4. Be a good example.

If the parents are whining about the veggies, so will the kids. Again, you don’t have to like them all, but you can be a great example to your kids when you take a nice portion of those you do love. I encourage you to try new ones every once in a while too. Our palates really do change through the years!

5. Relax.

I know we all want what’s best for our kids, so it can feel pretty awful if our kids hate vegetables and only want to eat gold fish crackers. Keep trying. Don’t nag. Don’t force. My kids have gone from eating very few veggies to loving many as they’ve gotten older.

By the way, after we had been on the road for so many days during our Christmas trip, ALL of my kids were begging for veggies and were even asking if we had spinach for salads when we got home. Their bodies have learned to crave the good stuff. Hallelujah!

Calling in for back up

I think our nourishment comes best from food. But supplements can help make sure we’re all getting what we need each day since most certainly, our diets are going to have gaps.

Our family was recently sent Juice Plus+ Orchard and Garden Blend Chewables for our kids to try. From their website:

Juice Plus+ is whole food based nutrition, including juice powder concentrates from 30 different fruits, vegetables and grains. Juice Plus+ helps bridge the gap between what you should eat and what you do eat every day. Not a multivitamin, medicine, treatment or cure for any disease, Juice Plus+ is made from quality ingredients carefully monitored from farm to capsule to provide natural nutrients your body needs to be at its best.

juice-plus

I personally found that the chewables are too sweet for me (it doesn’t take much!). I’m glad they are not sweetened with high fructose corn syrup, and wish they weren’t sweetened at all. But, just like I don’t mind my kids dipping veggies in ranch dressing as a way to get the veggies down, I have to land on the fact that even though these have added sweetener, at least it’s getting the nutrients in. My kids really like the taste and don’t mind at all helping themselves get some extra nutrients in the form of a gummy! (Also, Juice Plus+ offers capsules in addition to their gummies – no sugar!)

If you are concerned that your kids aren’t getting enough nutrients from veggies and fruits, Juice Plus+ is a great option to consider. In fact, it’s not just for kids! Adults are also often short on getting enough veggies. Juice Plus+ has capsules for the grown ups, for the kids, for everyone who wants to get more necessary nutrients from fruits and veggies.

Want to try some for free?

Jennifer, a Juice Plus+ representative working with me here, is offering to give one of you a month’s supply of Juice Plus+ Kid Chewables. Warning: If your kids are like mine, they’ll need to be held back from eating the entire package at once. My kids thought it was cool I had gotten them some “healthy fruit snacks.” That’s how good these taste to them! I had to holler in, “Hey, whoa! One per day, guys!”

Juice Plus+ is definitely worth checking into as an option for supplemental nourishment for your family. Check out Jennifer’s Juice Plus+ site here. Enter to win the giveaway for a 2-month supply of chewables below! I’ll draw a random winner on Monday, January 9.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Just Because I Can, Doesn’t Mean I Always Do

I can make mozzarella cheese. I can make Gatorade. I can make bread, pie, bagels, and pizza.

Homemade Gatorade

I share all of these ideas and recipes with people here. It’s so much fun! I talk about ways to save time and ways to save money. I’ve figured out ways to put nutritious meals on the table in less than 20 minutes, letting people know that none of us ever has to rely on take-out.

But just because I know these things, teach these things, and have experienced so much good because of all these things doesn’t mean I always do all these things.

Does this mean I’m a hypocrite? No. This means I’m human.

How about you? Human much?

I bet you know a lot of great tricks for saving money and time. But if you’re like me, sometimes there simply isn’t time to execute the time saving strategies (does this even make sense?). Sometimes the extra few dollars we need to pay for convenience is worth it so that we avoid stress and overthinking.

Check out what I did a few weeks before Christmas:

bagel-basket

I bought four packages of bagels (without reading the ingredient labels, if you can possibly imagine). I bought four bags of different varieties of granola. I bought a box of instant oatmeal pouches. I put them all in a big basket in the kitchen and told my kids, “This is breakfast for the next few days. Make eggs if you want. Always eat fruit. Beyond this, I won’t be making anything for breakfast because I have too much to do before we leave for California and I’m trying very hard not to be a crazy mom.”

I felt no guilt over the extra expense and the extra sugar and white flour. (Okay fine, I did cringe just a little bit, but only for half a second until I remembered my purpose.)

Nothing is worth anxiety and stress – not even the occasional ingredient label I can’t pronounce. Not even the extra few bucks I could have saved making it all myself.

Do I know how to make bagels? Granola? Instant oatmeal packets? Yes, yes, and yes. It’s fantastic to have such great money-saving recipes in my hip pocket. It’s wonderful knowing I’ve done all I can to put the best of the best on the table for my family.

But it’s more important to be able to love my family with a peaceful heart. It’s crucial for my mental and spiritual health that I spend as much time as possible each morning in prayer and reading the Word. And just before Christmas, the priority of enjoying the season with my family meant much more to me than flipping whole wheat pancakes and serving them with homemade blueberry syrup.

Just because I can, doesn’t mean I always do. Just because it sometimes works, doesn’t mean it always works. Just because I could, doesn’t mean I should. Just because change is hard, doesn’t mean change is bad. Just because I’m doing it now, doesn’t mean I always will.

just-because-i-can

Our family is home now after over 57 hours on the road and two weeks away from home. Things are starting to settle back down (sort of, if they ever actually do). I don’t plan to make bagels anytime soon. But I bet I’ll find time to make a batch or two of granola.

No matter what, I’ll seek to make the most important things in life the highest priority, remembering that just because I can do something, doesn’t mean I always should.

How about you? What are some things you (should) give up during times of additional stress and extra full schedules?

simplemeals300