Saturday, September 27, 2014

Not Your Typical Once a Month Freezer Meals Part 2

So now that I shared about how  and where I get most of my supplies for freezer meals

I had someone come in and help with cleaning, babysitting and doing meals for me. It worked for a little while, but I soon felt like I didn't need weekly help. But I still  needed some thing to make life more manageable.

With school starting back up, health issues acting up, and babysitting again, I really didn't have the brain power each day that I needed to think up and prepare meals.

After much prayer and consideration, I posted on facebook asking if anyone was interested in making freezer meals for me, in their home with my supplies.

So several weeks later a fb friend, M.R. messaged me asking if I still needed meals done... after a bit of back and forth we worked out the details and she started the first batch of freezer meals.

We are now on a monthly schedule. She picks up all the supplies that I have gathered and takes them back to her house, where over a week or two she preps the meals for me.

So as you can tell, the actual prep work is several stages. This is not an easy thing and takes planning and thinking far in advance in order to do it as economically as possible.

The first round of meals, I was behind in my schedule and ended up buying more then I wanted to. Therefore my meals were a good bit more expensive.

So this is what each month's prep will look like:

I start by going through my freezers, assessing my home canned shelves and my bulk items. I prefer to work with the items I already have, so as to buy as little as possible.

I have chicken and turkey in my freezer from last year's meat sale. It is not the best meat but works great in  one dish meals. I also had just a little bit of venison left in the bottom of my freezer.
I also had a good bit of rice lasagna and rice pasta from BB's (my favorite bent and dent store) .
I  buy rice in 20 lb bags, so always have rice on hand for meals.

So now I was ready to look at recipes. I have a collection of amish cookbooks. I have probably 15 of them!! I find that many of these cookbooks have recipes that use items I often have on hand, are meant to feed large families with growing boys and are meant to be budget friendly.

I try to have similar recipes and recipes with only a few ingredients.

 I also like to have the dishes include, meat, starch and veggie, so then we have a complete meal in one dish. 

I also use pinterest... I love pinterest for gluten free options.

Now is the not so fun part. I start by copying or printing out the recipes and placing them in plastic sleeves for easy access.  I try to find 4-5 recipes and have her make 4-5 meals of each.

I, then need to assess what each dish needs and how much. I generally start 2 lists, one for the grocery store and one for the basement. I go through each recipe first and write down each item needed on the correct list. Then I go back and figure out how much I need of each item.  This can be tricky since I buy things in bulk and having to figure out, sometimes 10x the recipe can be hard.

I go grocery shopping with my list. I know which little stores have the best prices and try to find the cheapest options. I try to find ways to buy things in bulk as much as possible which really saves on the costs.

The day before pick up day, I take my lists and make new ones. I now make a freezer/cold food list and a ready to go list. All the items on the "ready to go" list are placed in a  box ready to go. The list of freezer/cold foods goes into a cooler right before M.R arrives to pick up supplies.

I also supply foil pans, ziplock bags, and other freezer containers. I like to have some containers for the crockpot and some that I can pull out, thaw out and pop right into the oven.

M. R picks up each month's worth of supplies and a week or two later returns with a month's worth of freezer meals!

Look for Post #3 for recipes. (Nothing fancy or particularly healthy, but good, belly filling foods!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Birthday Girl

It's birthday time..
We had Miss A over for cake and ice cream to celebrate Nesiah's birthday!

Nesiah got lots of cool socks for her birthday! 

When you have a none verbal child, it can be hard to find an ice breaker when taking the child out in public. We find that fun socks are an excellent conversation piece, plus they are cute!! 

Big sis baked and decorated this cake! It was a gluten free layer cake with a peanut butter filling. Very Yummy!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Not Your Typical Once A Month Freezer Meals Part 1

I read the blogs. I search pinterest. I studied, mulling and figured. But reality is, most of these recipes don't work for my kids. The foods needed don't work with what is available for me.

We use a lot of food bought at the amish/mennonite bent and dent stores. (There are tons in my area) We also buy food in bulk from a foster parent food program. We get our venison from relatives who hunt but don't need all the meat. We also can a lot of tomato products.  This makes it a bit more complicated to follow your typical OAMC plans, but it allows me to cook for way less money.

Dietary restrictions, the only one we have is gluten intolerance. We have found using potatoes and rice pasta are good substitutes. When I find a good deal on GF pasta, I stock up. I recently bought 30 bags of rice pasta for .75 each!  We can get fairly inexpensive produce from local produce stands, plus we grow some of our own. (not much, I simply can't keep up with a garden)

So I have in my basement, 2 large shelves of home canned goods, 3 shelves and 3 totes of bulk items from the Food Program, and 3 freezers.. a large, medium and small freezer.  



Medium and small freezer, prior to purchasing my large upright freezer!

I share all this to help you understand how it all works for me. In order to fit my budget, I use what we have... It is not your traditional "make a list and go to the closest Aldi's" OAMC.

Monday, September 22, 2014


We have many medical and foster care appointments, the require us to drive an hour or more.  When your childcare providers are expensive, sometimes it is cheaper to take the kids along and do a field trip before/after the appointments. The idea is, you don't need to pay a sitter and you get to do fun fieldtrip you might not otherwise.

Last week we had quite a few appointments and a crazy week, so I decided to make Friday a fun day.

                                        We packed a picnic that morning, loaded the van for a full day of fun and headed out around 8:30.


We were happy to have our friend Miss. A along for this fun day! The kids were so excited. 

We arrived at the zoo at 10 am. We had to wait a couple minutes for them to open, the kids were antsy to get going! 

The bears were a huge hit, the kids loved them!

We made it through the zoo in almost exactly an hour. 

We left the zoo and headed to the park. The kids love packing lunches and each carry their own lunch box. We try to pack special lunches instead of getting fast food. 

We enjoyed our lunch then had an hour of playtime at the park. It was a beautiful day to sit and chat while the kids ran and played. 

Finally it was time to clean up sweaty, dirty kids and head the the hospital for tests. Thankfully the park had a nice bathroom and everyone washed up nicely.

We were early to our appointment but they took us right back.
Now this is when you know you are homeschoolers... everyone crowded around, watching in awe, and asking questions as they did the test. It was really quite interesting, despite the level of stress involved for the momma.

The kids did a great job all day so Miss A offered to treat everyone to ice cream on the way home. Oh, the joy! Getting out of the car, going into the restaurant and buying ice cream cones, then sitting outside to eat them! Momma is NEVER patient enough for that! This was def a special day!

We arrived home just in time to get Nesiah off the bus! It was a day not soon to be forgotten by my kiddoes. It has been a long time since we did a fun day like this and it was much needed. 

Sunday, September 21, 2014

God's Provision

Every year I get venison from relatives who are hunters.They shoot the deer, I pay the butcher for the butchering.  We get mostly burger and for the past 2 years have not had to buy any beef. It is a huge blessing.

Last year we got 4 deer butchered.  I used up the very last 2 packages on Sunday. I had looked into purchasing beef to hold me over until deer season.   But had not gotten it done.

On Monday morning, my father in law called to tell me that they had a doe for me. The meat would be ready the end of the week!

Today I picked up a huge laundry basket full of 2 lb packages of venison burger for $100!!! So incredibly blessed!

Second provision of this week. We have been  incredibly busy and I had need for sitters 3 days this week. A crazy week of appointments, some where I could easily take the kids and others where I truly needed sitters.
I was able to get friends to watch the kids, they even offered to watch the kids on days when they could go with me. The kids love this friend's house. They do their schoolwork and help her with her littles, so it can be helpful to both of us.

This morning once again this friend offered to watch my kids, so they didn't have to ride in the car with me for the two hours. #blessed

Friday, September 19, 2014

Friday Encouragement..

We would appreciate your prayers today as we go through today..

We trust God to show Himself to us today.

We trust His Peace goes with us, no matter where we go..

We trust His provisions.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

School and Schedule

Each day brings a new challenge, on some days it's each hour bringing a new challenge.

We seem to have the home maintenance well under control. My kids like a posted schedule. I have several goal oriented kids. They like knowing what is expected each day. They are pretty good at going with the flow when schedules change as long as the basic schedule stays the same.

This year I have 4 jobs each day and it seems to be working well. The goal oriented ones work well through each one and there is minimal nagging needed. The other's usually need no more then one reminder.

The school work load. Now that is a different story. We are rather relaxed homeschoolers. We have focused on healing emotions/trauma while working on the basics of education. We have come so far. But this year, this year I had big ideas. Workbooks. School that requires dedication and shows results. Lot's of reading and learning new things.

It's going fairly well for my readers, my kids who explore the whole world by reading. My one who doesn't read, yea it's an uphill battle. We are doing upwards of 5 hours of school every day. I. can. not. deal. with. that.  
We spend 15 minutes trying to work through the instruction "draw a line through the sentence" today. Yes, this is my 4th grader. I would appreciate some heavy prayer. ;)

We dropped co op. Sadly our babysitting job interfered with the schedule,  it kept changing and keeps changing. I struggled fiercely with this one. It was to be our out.. But once I made the decision and said no, I felt like a 100 lb weight was lifted off my shoulders. I was immediately filled with peace. It was the right decision.

Babysitting.. I am driving to the local public school each day, waiting in the kindergarten line to pick up kiddoe and bring her back here until her momma gets off work. Her momma has some health challenges and that has effected our schedule tremendously. Kiddoe is sweet and Fayth is in HEAVEN, with another little princessy here! They play nicely for hours.

Fostercare and health challenges continue to throw us curve balls. We continue to persevere in prayer.

We have a full day of Wednesday appointments, a day at home on Tuesday and Thursday, and trip to the city on Friday. Kids are going to a local amusement on Saturday with mentors. It looks to be another crazy busy week.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

We canned 120 Quarts of Applesauce!

It's one of our favorite traditions. Canning applesauce with our friends from church.  Every year Mrs T and Mrs. D help us. Mrs. T provides us with the apples and plans the date. Mrs. D gathers willing helpers.
Last year all the kids mentors helped us. This year it was Mrs. T and D and two more friends from church in addition to our neighbor.

We had 8 kids 10 and under here, we gated off the kitchen and all little people were forbidden in the hot food area. 

So thankful for people who sacrifice their time and efforts! 


We canned 120 quarts of applesauce!! So unbelievably blessed by this! It is something we eat at almost every meal! 

God is good..

Sunday, September 14, 2014

God is Good.

Life has been crazy busy..
School is a challenge...
Babysitting a balancing act...
Health challenges a constant drain...
Foster care an emotional journey...
toilets overflow..
kids are defiant..
kids constantly need fed...
kids constantly make messes...

But we are fighting to thrive in this:
We have friends who inspire and encourage
We have Godgiven breaks on the tough days
The knowledge this is only for a season
The strength that comes from God.
The peace that surpasses understanding.

The blogging will be on the back burner for awhile as I work to find our place in this chaos.

Monday, September 8, 2014


  We were invited to our friend's 16 birthday! Miss C is our "Mother's Helper". She often goes with us on day trips and appointments to help me keep everyone corralled etc..she is an excellent helper, quiet, sees the need and steps in when needed, helps with big kids and little kids. Oh, I can only hope to teach my girls to be helpers like this!  
Fayth was delighted with her $2 Goodwill dress and received many compliments!

Lee wanted to go with a wolf look... this was about as dressed up as he will get. $5 Goodwill outfit

David wanted a white suit with a white tie. This was his compromise. Ignore the fact that he is wearing flipflops. We forgot to get him dress shoes. his was another $5 goodwill outfit. 

Elizabeth had originally bought a purple dress and a beautiful shear lace sweater.  $4 outfit...
But then I found this blue dress for $2. She chose to wear that with leggings we already had. 

The birthday party was at a local golf course. We left the littles with a friend so that the big kids and I could have a fun night out! I can not rememeber the last time I got dressed up to go out for anything other then church or court hearings ! 

We loved the message in a bottle idea...

The beautiful fancy table. We had to have a long talk about appropriate manners etc.. I loved that my kids had this amazing opportunity to practice good manners and eating out. 

Lee was proud of his table manners and mom was happy that all those times of teaching did really reach his brain! 

Just so you know we didn't make perfection.. even tho it was close. :) 

The birthday girl and her friends! 

They played a game called musical balls. My boys won the prize! 

The Birthday girl herself!! 


My kids were thoroughly disappointed that we had to leave early to pick up the littles, They didn't know all the dances but learned quickly! I had told them before we left, when in doubt, watch what  others do. :) 

It was a fun night out for us. We so rarely dress up and go out, this was a very special treat.