Happy New Year!

01/02/2015

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I love New Years. Out with the old, in with the new. Christmas is packed up and stored away. I’m looking forward to so much in 2015, but most of all I’m excited for the birth of our son in April and settling in as a forever family of four. We don’t have a strict plan for the future of foster parenting and I know we’re not done forever, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we take most of 2015 off as we go through some significant transitions. I’m praying and believing for some big things this year and I’m excited to see what God is going to do.

Here’s a great song for the new year called “This Year” by JJ Heller:

The verse I’m praying for this year is Isaiah 43:18-19:

“Forget the former things;
    do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
    Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
    and streams in the wasteland.

And the word I’m praying over this year is leap.

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eMeals: Budgeting, Planning and Cooking Family Meals

02/05/2013

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One of my goals for the new year, now that we’re in our new home, is to cook more. I’ve never been too much into cooking and really slacked off a lot while we were living with my parents. My mom was kind enough to let us chip in for groceries and still do a lot of the cooking she would be doing anyway—except for 5 people instead of 2. (Thanks, Mom!!) Part of what has held me back from cooking more in past years is the time to plan and shop for meals. Jason (who is a very good and creative cook!) and I would walk through the grocery store together and look for inspiration based on what was on sale. That would usually get us a meal or two and a lot of random stuff. There was a Groupon for eMeals around New Years and after discussing with a friend who as used it before, I decided that this would be my plan for 2013.

So far, I am completely loving it…so much so that I’m writing this blog post! Every Sunday I get a 2 page PDF in my inbox with 7 recipes and a grocery shopping list for my neighborhood Kroger. The recipes are selected based on what’s on sale this week. It takes a huge amount of the planning out it and allows me to get great deals without flipping through ads, cutting coupons or wandering through the store. (Ain’t nobody got time for that!) I love that the shopping list is broken down by section of the store, too. It’s cut grocery shopping time down by half. At least.

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It’s also saving us money. The plan we’ve selected is the Classic Family Plan (the only one based on your local grocery store’s sales, I think) for 3-6 people. They also have an option for 1-2 people but my friend suggested the bigger plan because it yeilds a lot of leftovers. That’s where the second half of the time and money saving comes in for me. Often, I’m able to freeze half of the meal either cooked, or partially cooked following the freezing techniques of Don’t Panic—Dinner’s in the Freezer We also have leftovers flowing all the time so I very rarely need to eat out for lunch or take my former staple can of soup to work.

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This is Creamy Burrito Casserole round 2 – just after taking it out of the freezer to thaw. The recipe made enough for 2 good size casseroles.

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An unexpected result is that we’ve been eating out less. I never really thought we ate out all that much but having a plan for the week means that we’re very rarely going out to eat Monday-Thursday. We usually treat ourselves to a night out after work on Friday and a lunch after church on Sundays. Other than that, we’ve been spending around $40-45/week on dinner/lunch. That does not include things like milk, eggs, cheese, yogurt, fruit and other staples but for the bulk of our meals…I think that’s pretty good. The plan adds up to around $85 for 7 meals for 3-6 people. I’ve been choosing 3 meals per week and selecting from a rotation of freezer meals for the other days we’re eating at home.

Another, perhaps more obvious benefit, is that it’s introducing us to a lot of new recipes and new foods. All the recipes we’ve tried have been good, some have been excellent (salmon cakes, swedish meatballs, oven fried chicken, creamy burrito casserole). I’ve discovered some items in the grocery store that I never knew existed (panko, cheese soup). I’ve learned where I/we draw the line to save a buck…white bread sandwich rolls for $1? Head of iceberg lettuce for $1.49? No thank you. I’m willing to pay a little more for something we like better.

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2011 Annual Goals

01/05/2011

On December 30th, Jason and I were driving to Branson for a weekend getaway. (Actually, J was working: playing for Guy Penrod; but to me, it was a mini vacation!) Eight hours in the car gave us plenty of time to reflect on 2010, our goals met and unmet; and to dream and plan for 2011. Instead of starting out with a list of home projects like last year, we decided to start with a list of financial goals. In 2010 we filtered most of our nonessential income toward home projects and saved what we could. In 2011, we plan to filter a lot of our nonessential income into savings and investments, and keep a lower, specific amount set aside each month for home projects and repairs.

Our financial goals include a target annual income, retirement savings milestones, general savings targets, getting both of our old cars in good working condition and saving a certain amount toward new replacements and saving for a vacation.

We did, of course, make a list of projects for our home for 2011:

– fence around garden – carried over from 2010’s list

– pergola roof – carried over from 2010’s list

– replace the galvanized steel plumbing pipe from the house to the street (to improve our water pressure)

– get gas run into our house (if the gas company will do it), get a gas range and fireplace

– get 3-5 more fruit trees for our back yard (we’re leaning toward pear, date, cherry … any suggestions?)

– build 1 or 2 more 4′ x 8′ garden beds for vegetables and strawberries

And then, I decided we needed to make another list for big picture goals. Things like:

– read more books

– take more risks

– give more money away

– smile more and make it authentic

What about you? Do you make goals for the year? Resolutions? Do you write them down or just make 1 or 2 decisions that are easy to remember? I’m curious to hear what others do. If you have any great ideas or special goals/resolutions, please share!

Oh, and HAPPY NEW YEAR!