Tackling Meal Planning

mealplanningAfter my post, Financial Trust, I had a few readers ask me to share my meal plan. So this is a practical post sharing this weeks meal plan, recipes and some resources and tips I’ve found helpful to learning how to meal plan.

This might seem so unspiritual, but let me tell you I have learned a lot about being a Proverbs 31 wife and mom from learning how to budget and plan healthy meals for my family. These things are disciplines that equip you to better serve the Lord in the future. Organization is key to being able to handle all that God might put on your plate.

If you have dreams in your heart and plans you want to fulfill, your finances will have to be in order, and your time in check.

Don’t be overwhelmed. This is a process. I’m still learning too!

I actually plan my meals in two-week blocks with the pay periods, but I will just share one week today.

Here are some helpful tips I keep in mind when meal planning:

  • Shop your pantry first. Why make rotini pasta this week when you’re stocked up on penne?
  • Be flexible with your meal plan around the sales of the week.
  • Plan healthy baking to curb the unhealthy sugar purchases.

These websites/blog posts have been very helpful to learning how to meal plan and budget my groceries:

This is the routine I have for my weekly meals:

  • S is for SIMPLE. Saturdays and Sundays are easy. Frozen pizza, hamburgers, hot dogs, etc are a part of our weekend life. Family time is more important to me than cooking!
  • Have one meatless meal a week.
  • Assign one meal to chicken, one to ground beef and one to fish.
  • Thursdays is always leftovers because I have my break that afternoon and do not want to mess around with supper!
  • Tuesdays and Saturdays are dessert nights. We’re trying to cut down on our endless sugar intake.

Superstore’s coupon this week is that when you spend $250 you receive a $25 gift card. I will buy all my groceries  for the next two weeks there to get that. Usually I browse the flyers for the best deals.

There is another deal for the long weekend that if you buy frozen burgers you receive buns, pickles, juice and chips for free. This is perfect for our Labour Day Football BBQ!

Here is our meal plan. Lunches and snacks aim to be school and work friendly since I have a high school student as well as a husband who needs food at work!

Weekly Meal Plan

Breakfasts: Fruit, Toast, Cereal, Oatmeal

Lunches:
Tomato Soup & Grilled Cheese (for those at home)
PB + J Sandwiches
Deli Meat Sandwiches
Leftovers x3

Snacks:
Muffins & Cheese
Apples & Peanut Butter
Yogurt
No Bake Energy Bites
Peaches

 Suppers:
BBQ Hamburgers (Superstore Meal Deal)
Black Bean Soup & Biscuits
Thai Chicken Stir Fry & Rice
Tuna Egg Noodle Casserole
Cheeseburger Meatloaf (with real cheese, not cheese whiz), Potato Wedges & Steamed Veggies
Frozen Pizza, Salad
Leftovers

Baking:
Whole Wheat Bread
Oatmeal Banana Breakfast Muffins
Carrot Apple Muffins
Dessert for the Football Party, Tuesday and Saturday

What’s on your menu for the week? Share your meals, ideas and tips!

If You Think He Doesn’t Love You

IfYouThinkHeDoesntLoveYouMy number one love language is quality time. As a child, a time out would have been a terrible punishment. Remove me from my friends? A nightmare!

In my books, there will never be a date long enough, days off consecutive enough or a conversation too lengthy with my husband.

I love road trips with him. A long drive, a coffee and enough time to talk about everything.

With a little less time in our schedule these days, and kids who like to monopolize our driving time, my quality time tank can be lacking.

During my first three months with our new baby, I went through a number of postpartum ups and downs (I’m forever thankful for periods of hormonal stability). Not having my number one love language met consistently caused me to question my husband’s love for me.

It’s not that he didn’t want to spend time with me, we just had a baby that cried almost non stop, and a toddler trying to fight for equal attention. It was tough.

One evening we ended up talking about it and through a mess of tears and mixed up words I told him I didn’t know if he really loved me right now because we weren’t spending much time together.

He was able to tell me that he had been showing me love through his number one love language, acts of service, because time was not as available.

I had been so blind. My house was spotless every night! Now that’s love!

There are times when we need to ask to have our love language spoken, but then there are times to ask what our spouse’s language is and see if they’ve been trying to speak to us that way.

If you are in a seemingly healthy marriage (no form of abuse) and you are starting to question if your spouse loves you, ask yourself these questions.

1. What is their love language? (Take Gary Chapman’s The Five Love Languages Quiz)

2. Are they trying to speak love in their language?

3. Can you become bilingual? Meaning, will you accept the love they are trying to communicate with out putting them down?

Once you accept it, you can bring up your need to be loved in your language from a place of respect instead of a place of neglect.

I have gleaned a lot of wisdom from a concept that Dr. Emerson Eggerichs, author of Love & Respect, laid out in his book. He encourages couples to assume that (if in a non abusive relationship) each other is a person of goodwill who is not trying to be mean, unfeeling or degrading.

They simply do not understand and need to be loved, or respected to a place of seeing your heart. 

My husband was certainly not trying to deprive me of my relational “air”. I simply misread him because he was speaking a different language!

Make sure you aren’t hitting a language barrier. Learning any language takes work, but becoming bilingual always pays off!

Protecting the Peace

ProtectingPeaceIt started out as a really good day. We all had breakfast, my husband left for work, and the kids and I got a lot accomplished in one morning. As afternoon naps came I was feeling like supermom with the cupboards that had been organized, the laundry that had been done and my well planned frugal grocery trip. I was tired and ready for rest.

As Murphy’s Law would have it, one napped and the other cried, so there went my break. I was tired, annoyed and felt like I need to get supper cooked and muffins baked to freeze for the upcoming school year, since I wasn’t going to rest anyway.

I guess you could say things began to unravel quickly as our A/C didn’t keep up with the stove, combine with it being +33 Celsius outside.

Amayah’s second nap came and she wouldn’t sleep again. She screamed and my son yelled at me about how he was entitled to a TV  show if it was her nap time.

The house was scorching, I was exhausted and the kids cranky and bored. Not a good combination.

My husband walked in the door after his own long day and didn’t exactly receive a very nice welcome.

This did not set the best tone for our evening.

Needless to say the end of the day came with very little peace, relaxation or joy.

Our home usually enjoys nice evenings together, even if they consist of chores and crying kids. We just like to be together.

What happened to the peace?

A bad day can be redeemed if you learn from it, so here are three things that God showed me we need to protect the peace.

  1. Physical Affection is a MUST. Each member of the family needs to feel loved and valued. I fell asleep that night realizing I didn’t purposefully cuddle my kids, nor did I kiss my husband once.
    Application: Slow down. Give hugs and kisses.
  2. Praise and Worship is a MUST. I love teaching broadcasts, silence and fun music, but for the first time in a long while I didn’t turn worship music on, and the atmosphere of giving praise to Jesus was missing.
    Application: Turn your family’s eyes on Jesus through music. Sing and dance in your kitchen. He is worthy.
  3. Planning less work is a MUST. The cupboard that is cleaned out or the muffins that ware baked aren’t worth throwing us into a tale spin. Yes, things need to get done, but perhaps groceries, supper and only two loads of laundry were what we could handle that day.
    Application: Less is more. Less work equals more quality family time.

While no muffins means no muffins, no family time means a lot more than just no family time. It leaves kids feeling insecure, wives feeling under appreciated and husbands not wanting to come home.

We need to actively protect the peace in our homes and model healthy families to a world with no peace

!

Financial Trust

financialtrustBudget.

Does this word bring up any feelings in your heart?

It used to make me cringe as I related it more with words like: constricting, limiting and suffocating.

In school, I did not have much money, but a budget was not high on my list of priorities. In fact, my priorities were so mixed up that I would buy make up and clothes before food (you can survive a long time on stuff you’ve “borrowed” from your mom’s pantry)!

After we found out I was pregnant with our firstborn, we knew that I wouldn’t be returning to work. It was important to both of us that I be at home for our kids during their pre-school years.

This inevitably meant learning to live on one income.  We were going to have to change our lifestyle, and actually start taking some of our debt seriously.

My husband stumbled across Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University. He became very excited about ways to quickly pay off our debt and work our way up to financial stability.marriage-vs-money-1

I was hesitant. It felt like there were a lot of rules and regulations. This was my money too, right? No one could completely control my spending.

God was giving me an opportunity to get some practice budgeting with a little more margin. When I didn’t take the chance, I ended up being thrown straight in.

We moved cities, switched careers and got pregnant with baby #2.

A budget was MUST.

This was when I learned a hard, but important lesson.

I needed to show my husband that he could trust me financially.

It took a bit of work but I learned, and have been learning, more about meal planning and shopping wisely. It is the furthest thing from restricting, I feel so much more organized during the week and we’re able to bless others with meals because I’m actually prepared.

I desire to demonstrate my love and respect for Andrew through how well I can manage the money that I’m responsible for spending. When I started looking at it that way it sure helped motivate me to do it well!

When I want to be lazy with meal planning or spending, I think on this verse to try to motivate myself back to good spending habits.

Who can find a virtuous and capable wife? She is more precious than rubies.
Her husband can trust her, and she will greatly enrich his life.
She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.

Proverbs 31:10-12

Key points for me are:

  1. He can trust her.
  2. She enriches his life.
  3. She brings him good.

It would be stressful to have a wife that wastes your money and drains your finances. Nothing would make a man feel like more of a failure at providing.

Conflict over money consistently falls into the top three reasons marriages today fail. Seeking to honour your spouse through finances gives your home an extra dose of peace.

It’s well worth the effort to meal plan and shop wisely!

New Things

Everyday in my kids life holds newness. For my son, today’s new things was jumping off every possible chair, couch or basket onto the floor yelling “I’m superman!”. For my daughter it was shaking a rattle hard enough for it to actually make noise.photo Each time they experience something new they are literally dwelling in a pool of delight. Every sense is stimulated. A whole new part of the world has opened up to them. Sweetness is tasted, a bass sound is heard, sparkle has been seen.

As an adult is it so easy to get stuck in the rut of routine.

I am a lover of routine and find a lot of comfort in the predictable. Marriage experts Drs. Greg & Erin Smalley talk about how trying something new with your spouse stimulates the part of your brain that creates the feelings you experience at the beginning of a relationship.

photo-1 You don’t have to feel guilty admitting you aren’t overwhelmed with tingly feelings for your spouse. psychologists say that on average those “can’t eat, can’t sleep, can’t think about anything else” feelings last a maximum of two to three years from when you start dating. Some people’s feelings are already fading by the time they walk down the aisle.

Don’t find that discouraging, this just clears your head enough to learn what true love really is.

I keep coming back to my kids and the joy they experience learning and growing. My son is literally speechless sometimes when he discovers something that blows his mind. On the flip side he can be giving dramatic shouts of joy when he gets to try something he knows he’s going to like. photo-3God seems to be about new things as well. In fact as he models love relationship with us he is telling us over and over that he is doing to do a new thing in our hearts, in our minds and in our life. As he takes us to new places and new heights with him, we become enamoured with who he is.

But—“When God our Savior revealed his kindness and love, he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit.

Titus 3:4-5

If any of your relationships feel stuck in a rut, try something new. Here are some practical ideas:

As a family –  Break out of the typical family movie night and build a fort, do a craft or go exploring. With our kids we’ve been trying to hit up every park in our city over the summer. photo-2 In your marriage – To try something new and maximize our time together, my husband has been teaching me how to mud and tape walls as we renovate our house. We have also been trying to get awesome at putting on “at-home-date-nights”. There are tons of ideas online and I wrote a post a while ago that you can check out. (At Home Dates)

With the Lord – Sometimes I have got stuck in what devotions need to look like. Try to be open to the season God might have you in. There are many ways to grow through wise counsel, worship, meditating, Scripture, art and movement, just to name a few. I am not an artist in anyway but there was a season where God spoke deeply to me through painting at a lake, something I would not normally try!

Enough For Two

When I had my first baby, I had endless moments of holding him, completely overwhelmed by the amount of love I felt for this little person. There was no child so perfect, so beautiful, or so full of life as my son.

We would sit in the rocking chair and I’d look in his eyes and we’d goo and coo at each other. I remember making up this little song that I would sing to him over and over.

Do you know that I love you so much?

Do I tell you I love you enough?

Do you know little guy, that for you I would die in a moment?

I would give it all up for you, baby boy.

The older he got the less chances I had to hold him and sing. Staring in his beautiful big eyes changed to trying to hold his attention long enough to have him listen to me.

My little girl was laying on her tummy time mat smiling up at me, and my boy was perfecting his new skill of jumping like a kangaroo. There was just so much love. My kids are a gift, a treasure in my arms. Then I remembered that song.

Do you know that I love you so much?

Do I tell you I love you enough?

Do you know little guy, that for you I would die in a moment?

I would give it all up for you, baby boy.

It blew me away that I had the same rush of love for now not one, but two little people. Two people to pour out my love, songs and heart. Two people who I would die for.

Funnily enough it was a fear of mine that I would not be able to love my second with the same intensity as I love my first.

Love is certainly multiplied among your children, it can never divided.

Image-1

Children are a gift from the Lord;
    they are a reward from him.

Psalm 127:3

How do you spell love?

Life with God is so exciting. Life with a spouse who loves God, makes it extremely exciting!

Without mentioning it to each other, we separately started reading a marriage book that God brought across our path.

I mentioned mine before on a previous blog post, Love & Respect. My husband was reading Real Marriage by Mark and Grace Driscoll (I’ve since read it and definitely encourage you to check it out). Though we still had our arguments, things seemed to be clicking a long a little smoother, despite some parenting situations that were pushing us to our limits. At bare minimum we were apologizing much faster than before.

Both of us were being challenged in the books we were reading to find out how your spouse spells love. There are broad descriptions of love depending on your gender (like a woman spells love just like it is spelt, L-O-V-E, but a man spells it R-E-S-P-E-C-T), but then there are very individual ways to spell love.

It has been so energizing to our relationship to be finding new ways to spell love to each other, especially when “official” date nights seem few and far between.

It’s been important for us to communicate to each other when we are purposefully showing love, since in our current stage with little kids it can be really easy to overlook what the other has done.

When I realized how much it meant to Andrew if I made the bed everyday (sometimes just minutes before he gets home!), I told him straight out that I made the bed to show him I loved him, even though it wasn’t super high on my priority list.

Likewise, he has filled me in on his love for me by entertaining the kids while I get supper on the table, giving me some time away, and bringing me home a surprise coffee.

Such simple things that are so easy to overlook, but mean so much when you realize the purpose behind it.

This has also opened my eyes to the needs of my kids. Even at two years old my son can be pretty clear that he wants more than anything for me to sit and watch him do a puzzle or build a tower out of blocks. I don’t even have to help. He spells love t-o-g-e-t-h-e-r.

At almost four months, my daughter clearly spells love e-y-e-c-o-n-t-a-c-t, and lets us know when this need is met or not.

Sometimes love in my language is spelt t-i-m-e, s-t-a-r-b-u-c-k-s or maybe even s-l-e-e-p-i-n-g-i-n.

Regardless of how you spell it,  it can change the whole atmosphere of your home when you find out how those around you arrange their “love” letters!Image