Saturday, May 19, 2012

Saving the Moola: embrace simple meal ideas to save time, money + your sanity

Chef Jason, my husband, likes to prepare elaborate meals. And while I certainly enjoy eating them, there comes a season in our lives when elaborate isn't doable. At times, we treat ourselves and head out on the town for a date night, or just pick up subs from Subway.

But to maximize our dollar and time, it's really imperative that we embrace eating at home. To that end, during busy seasons, we've made it a point to embrace simple meal ideas.

Whatever you're thinking "simple" is, go at least one step further. We've found that one of our favorite meals is raw veggies, raw fruit and bread and butter. Another one is sandwiches, like peanut butter and jelly, with chips and carrots.

These meals are insanely cheap, as we buy bread from the thrift store and always have loads of loaves on hand. We also always keep carrots in the house along with some type of fruit, such as strawberries or applesauce.

We didn't always embrace the idea of a simple meal, particularly for dinner. We eat primarily from home every day of the week since we work primarily from home. So while the simple meal ideas above may sound fresh and unique to you, they're really not to us. The meals we listed are every day lunches for us. And if they're not fresh and unique for you, check out Pinterest and search for "lunch ideas," "picnic meals," or something similar. There a ton of great ideas on there.

To keep on track with saving money, time and most importantly, our sanity, we make it a point to plan our meals in advance so we don't get tired of one simple meal. We also always eat most, if not all, of our leftovers. During a busy season in life, we make elaborate meals on the weekends and make a big batch. We'll bake one or two items for breakfast on-the-go, like muffins. Then, during the week, we'll eat our baked good for breakfast, leftovers for lunch and have a simple meal for dinner, like crackers and cheese and fruit.

This saves a ton of time since no one's really doing any cooking. If we cooked for all three meals, we'd easily spend at least three hours in the kitchen, and in truly busy seasons in our lives, we just don't have three hours we want to give to the kitchen. We'd rather invest that time in relaxing {if that's even an option}, writing for our blog, working our day jobs, or cleaning up our house.

Truly, it's all about priority. You may decide that going out for dinner is your best bet {and maybe you have all the money in the world and feel you can do that}. But amidst all of our goals, we come back to one simple truth: honor God. Be a good steward of all the resources He's given you.

Resources include money and time. We want to be sure that at the end of the day, God was at the center of it. We shared with Him, we prayed to Him, we honored His desires.

Simple meals allow for all of that. They also allow us to connect with each other, play with our cat, relax and read, play board games and more. Reserving elaborate meals for the weekends, or a specific time during the week when we have time, is much more sensical to achieve all the goals in our lives, when we're in a busy season. During a slow season of life, we find ourselves cooking a lot of new, elaborate meals. There's an ebb and flow with life, and we have found it's best to work with it, rather than against it. We change our routines based on what our priorities are at any given time of the month or year.

When you're struggling to eat a simple meal for dinner that possibly isn't hot in temperature {what Americans are typically used to} and be satisfied with it, just ask yourself why you're doing it. Why are you eating that simple meal? What goals are you achieving by embracing a simple meal that will nourish you? We always make it a point to reflect on our gratefulness for that meal - satisfaction from a simple meal comes really quickly after that.

We remember that Jesus said not to worry about what we eat:
Then Jesus said to his disciples: "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear." - Luke 12:22
God will see to it to our hearts are full if we follow His commands. Our souls will be nourished by His hand and His word.

That's a truth we can embrace.

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