Category Archives: Simple Living

Entitlement and Your Child

The other day, Ian and I went to dinner at a local Mexican restaurant. I don’t know how we got started, but we ended up talking about credit. In this country, and in many others, I’m sure, we are nurtured up under the encouragement to always want more than we have. We celebrate things like Christmas and birthdays, which serve one major purpose, especially if you’re a kid – the getting of more stuff.

We’re taught that every kid “deserves” a good Christmas or a good birthday. We’re taught to get them whatever is on their wishlist, even if we have to max out our credit cards to do it. Then we bend over backwards trying to pay them off for the rest of the year, or just give up and declare bankruptcy when the creditors come knocking.

Let me tell you something you may not want to hear. This whole idea has been sold to us by companies who make their livings off of people who have bought into this lie. The only person who “deserves” anything is the person who has earned it. That’s a concept you don’t often hear anymore. But neither do your kids deserve everything that you can throw at them, nor is it good for them to receive everything their little hearts desire.

I know this is harsh. I know it’s controversial. But the pervasive disease of entitlement in our culture begins to take root during childhood. It is one of the major problems in our country right now, and we are almost all of us responsible for it.

So, how do credit cards tempt us to buy more than what we have earned? By persuading us that the next thing we want will be the last thing for a while. That we’ll be perfectly content if we can have just this one thing more. That a month from now, when the statement arrives in the mail, you will have more money than you do right now. Because you’re going to stop spending and start saving.

I told my son this:

The kind of person who will spend money he doesn’t have to buy something he doesn’t need will never, ever have money.

They will always be discontent with their current situation, and they will continue to lie to themselves about changing their habits or having more money in the future.

If you want financial advice, you need look no further than the Old Testament:

“He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves abundance with its income. This too is vanity. When good things increase, those who consume them increase. So what is the advantage to their owners except to look on? The sleep of the working man is pleasant, whether he eats little or much; but the full stomach of the rich man does not allow him to sleep.” Ecclesiastes 5

“The rich rules over the poor, And the borrower becomes the lender’s slave.” Proverbs 22:7

“Honour the Lord with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase: so shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst with new wine.” Proverbs 3:9

photo credit: L’art au présent <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/144232185@N03/28745556294″>KAÏ,2016 – La Richesse – Wealth, Palais Royal, Rue de Rivoli, Paris-g</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>(license)</a&gt;

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Quick and Easy Budget Cooking Tips

I typed up some tips for a friend today, and figured I should share them with you all as well! Here they are:

I don’t always keep fresh veggies and a couple of other odd ingredients on-hand (because they go bad so quickly), but I still use several recipes that call for them; I just have to make a quick trip to the store first.

I always use the cheap version of everything. If a recipe calls for chicken wings, I use thighs, etc.

Also, I never use a whole pound of meat. I will buy a 3-lb. frozen roll of hamburger, cook it all, drain the fat, and divide it into 5 baggies. I refreeze those, and use one portion when it calls for a pound of beef. With chicken, I always just buy a big bag of thighs. When the recipe calls for a pound of chicken, I just take one piece out of the bag and boil it. (I do everything the easy way, lol.) Then I tear it in pieces and toss it in with the rest of the recipe.

Also, a lot of times, I’ll just use whatever type of cheese, veggie, meat, or filler (beans, rice, pasta, potatoes) that I have on-hand or that I need to use up. I don’t always follow the recipe. (Except for spices – I am terrible at guessing at those! Lol.) I also like to stretch recipes by adding extra filler.

I always use lemon juice instead of lime because it’s cheaper, and it keeps for a long time in the fridge.

You can get enchilada sauce in the Mexican aisle at Wal-Mart. I think it’s cheaper than making it at home or from the mix that ALDI carries sometimes.

You can substitute refried beans for hummus. It’s good both ways.

FreeImages.com/Gabriel Bulla

FreeImages.com/Gabriel Bulla

When you make homemade pizza, you can cook Italian bread slices for 10 minutes or so, then add the toppings (tomato sauce, pizza spices, and any combination of veggies and meat). You can add the toppings before baking, but the bread might be a little moist when it is finished. I like it either way. Also, I always just allow my family to pick and choose from the veggies I have on-hand, and each family member makes their own unique mini-pizzas. This idea also works with tortillas, if you don’t have any bread on-hand.

I hope you find a few of these ideas helpful! Let me know if you have any more to share!

Favorite, Easy Recipes from On-Hand Items

Here are a few of the items that I have been keeping on-hand all the time. All of these items keep well for a very long time. From the following list, you can make several recipes, and I am including them below.

You will find that you eat out less and spend a lot less money on convenience items if you always have something around that you can just throw together for dinner. If this idea helps you out, or if you have more go-to recipe ideas, let me know in the comment section!

Ingredients:

Rotel

Chili beans

Kidney beans

Black beans x2

Chili powder

Cumin

Parsley

Basil

Apple cider vinegar (or red wine vinegar)

Frozen ground beef

Velveeta

Marinara

Pasta (any kind)

Oil

Rice

Garlic powder

Tomato sauce

Corn

Hot sauce

Vegetable broth

Salsa

Tortilla chips

Cheesecake mix

Milk

Butter

Cherry pie filling

Sugar

Recipes:

Vegan Chili IngredientsEasy Vegan Chili (or you can add ground beef)

4-Ingredient Lasagna

Spaghetti (spaghetti, marinara, ground beef)

Mexican Rice (oil, rice, salt, garlic powder, tomato sauce)

Black bean & salsa soup

Dump into a pot:

1 can corn (with water from can)

1 can black beans (with water)

16 oz. salsa

1 T. broth of choice

1 t. cumin

1 t. hot sauce

Heat on medium until warm and garnish with corn chips

I try to keep cheesecake mix on hand for unexpected company. It only takes 5 minutes to mix and an hour to chill.

If you keep a lot of veggies on hand, you can use them to throw together a salad, stir-fry, or lazy pizza (any kind of oven-baked bread or tortilla, topped with tomato sauce, cheese, ground beef, spices, and fresh veggies). You can also add them to rice, quinoa, or pasta for a quick nutritional boost.Lazy Lasagna Ingredients

 

Meal Planning Miracle

FreeImages.com/OBMonkey

FreeImages.com/OBMonkey

Meal planning has always been difficult for me. Perhaps it’s because I don’t usually enjoy cooking, but every time I plan meals in advance, I’m never in the mood to cook that evening’s specific meal. So I try to make things simpler on myself. I have tried all of the following:

  • Crockpot meals
  • Muffin cup meals
  • Once a month cooking
  • Running out and buying things on the day I need them

All of these things failed me for some reason or another, and I was once again finding myself surrounded by empty cupboards and empty stomachs to match. However, I finally figured out an answer to my problem. I am posting this in an effort to help all of you who might be struggling with the same thing. Here’s what I did:

I took out all of my favorite go-to recipes, and supplemented them with a few other simple meals. I also asked my Facebook friends for their favorites. Then I went through all of them and made a list of the ingredients. I put dry goods in one category, frozen in another, and refrigerated in another, but I only added ingredients that I wanted to keep on hand all the time. For instance, I can keep any amount of dry goods in stock and almost every frozen item, as long as I don’t have pizzas or other space-consuming things in my freezer. Some of the dairy products, such as milk and eggs, I added to the master list, because I figured it would be good to always have those on hand. However, half-and-half didn’t make the cut because I don’t use it often enough, and I didn’t want it going bad in the fridge if I failed to use it quickly.

Most of the meals consisted solely of ingredients that I decided I could always keep stocked. As this was my goal, I didn’t pick out any complicated or obscure recipes for this project. I wrote the names of these meals down in a separate column of my grocery list, along with the designation that I could cook any of them at any given time, provided I always kept every ingredient from my master list on hand. These meals serve as my go-to menu, and it’s working out very well, even when we have company. (My husband likes it too, because he has more and better choices.)

The favorite recipes containing ingredients that were not on that list were written down in a separate place, along with the one or two extra ingredients I would need to make them. I ended up with about 40 meals I could make at the drop of a hat, and 10 or 15 more that required one or two extra ingredients. Now this is the hard part: initially purchasing everything on the master list and then remembering to write things down as soon as I use them so I can buy them again. Because I chose simple meals, and because I already had many of the dry goods on hand, I was able to make my initial purchase for about $100.

Good luck with your meal planning, and I hope this idea helps some of you!

Tasty Salmon on Rice

Lately (aka, this year), we’ve been trying to eat super healthy. It’s been relatively easy so far, since I’ve stopped buying pasta, simple carbohydrates, candy, etc. If it’s not in our pantry, we can’t very well eat it, now can we? Let’s hope my method works.

Here’s a little something I threw together. We just had the salmon concoction on Wednesday, but yesterday we tried it over rice. My husband approves! He likes it so much, I thought I would throw the recipe your way. Feel free to use any kind of beans or vegetables depending on taste and what you have on hand. Those were the only reasons I chose the things I did. You could also try adding nuts, if you like, but my husband is allergic to them.

Tasty Salmon on Rice:

1 lb. pkg. Brown rice

1 T. extra virgin olive oil

1 clove garlic

1 cup diced onions

1 cup diced tomatoes

1 cup cooked or canned chickpeas

1 – 14.75 oz. can of pink salmon (with bones)

Generous dose of Mrs. Dash’s fiesta lime seasoning.

I didn’t use salt or pepper, but feel free. It tasted salty enough for me – probably because of the canned salmon.

 

Rice takes almost an hour, so put it on early. Follow the directions on the packaging. (I cooked mine up the day before.)

Heat olive oil in a large skillet and add garlic.

Brown onions and tomatoes.

Throw in your chickpeas and salmon.

Stir.

Heat to desired temperature.

Remove from heat and add seasoning.

Serve over rice!

Calories per serving, as close as I can figure: 234

Serves 7

What is sacrifice?

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.

Romans 12:1

A living sacrifice. What does that mean exactly? Basically, it means we shouldn’t do everything we want to do. Even if those things are within our means. We should say no to ourselves sometimes. Deny our flesh. I have been reading When the Bottom Drops Out by Robert Bugh. I’ve really been enjoying it, and getting a lot out of it.

He had this to say about sacrifice: “Sacrifice is saying no to something you prefer so you can say yes to God. It’s placing your preferences, what you love, on the altar and telling God, ‘I want to keep this or have this or do this, but You are speaking to me and I am giving it up. Take it; it’s Yours!’…Sacrifice is counterintuitive; it’s winning by losing, gaining by giving, living by dying, doing without now so you can be rewarded later in heaven…Hear me, dear reader: as painful as it is, it’s sacrifice that will keep you from wasting your life, because it’s sacrifice and service that reveal the lordship of Christ in your life.” – pages 101-102

I don’t hate myself. I’m not going to go out of my way to make life difficult on myself. But I do know that I don’t need everything I think I do. God will take care of everything I need, and sacrificing the things I want won’t necessarily make life any harder on me. In fact, sometimes, I think sacrifice makes our lives simpler. It’s going without. It means there will be fewer things in my life to distract me from God.

What about sacrificing my time? Won’t that add things to my life? Won’t my schedule get busier if I try to minister to others when I already have so many things on my plate? Not if you sacrifice something else that eats up your time. Television is the first thing that comes to mind. Nobody needs it. On your deathbed, you won’t regret the hours you didn’t spend watching television.

What about homeschoolers? Homeschoolers are too busy already. So many things to teach, to learn. Let’s not forget the reason many of us are homeschooling in the first place. It’s not so our kids will be smarter. It’s not so they’ll get a better job or function better in society. Are we not preparing our children for a life of service to God? And do they not learn best by example?

Some ideas for sacrifice:

Change the way you eat or drink, what you watch, what you wear, the way you spend time on the internet or the phone.

Change the way you spend your money, your time, your emotions.

Change the way you relate to God, your spouse, parents, children, and others.

When you see a need, fill it. Be sensitive to the urging of the Holy Spirit.

Why does sacrifice mean so much to God?

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

Matthew 5:16

And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

Romans 12:2

Downsizing

We decided to “unstuff.” I went through the whole house, and decided to get rid of more than half of my books and clothes, along with some other things. This weekend we had a three-room indoor moving sale. It was very interesting! We met interesting people, we had interesting conversations, and we sold most of our large furniture. We’re down to our coffee table, 3tvs, an entertainment center, Ian’s bunk bed, and Ian’s desk. Oh, and our exercise bike. We still need to get rid of the bike and one of the tvs. I think we will probably sell the bunk bed and the desk before we actually move, but we’re going to wait a while because Ian uses those things. Now if I could only get rid of the rest of my clothes and books! I know I could donate or give them away, but we’re working on paying off all of our debt. Amazon’s trade-in program was a great help, however, but they don’t take just anything.

We’ll probably end up moving closer to Jesse’s work, but we’re trying to keep our options open. Union would be great – it’s smack dab between Valent Aerostructures and Liberty Baptist Church! If we sell the Z3, we’ll be only three months away from being completely out of debt (aside from our home). When we do move, we’d like to buy a less expensive home as well, and then we’ll be free! For practice, we’re only living in three rooms of our house this winter + the bathrooms. The other benefit is, we won’t have to heat one half of the house. I’m super excited; it’s kind of like an adventure in simpler living. We have fold-up chairs, but maybe we should get some pillows to sit on like they do in Japan. It would probably be more comfortable 🙂

Any suggestions out there for unstuffing or living a simpler lifestyle?