The last article I could imagine myself writing is one on cooking. Unlike some of my friends, it’s not a favorite thing to do. I don’t mind when I can take it at a leisurely pace.
There was a time I made yogurt, bread and tried new things often. Then I had a child with a disability and parents that needed assistance and there just wasn’t a lot of time for food preparation. But people still needed to eat, and I needed to feed my growing, large family frugally!
My method comes from martyred missionary Jim Elliot’s widow, Elisabeth Elliot. As far as I know, she does not have a lecture or an article on cooking, but one of the many things that helped me was her method of problem-solving, which was to ask
“What do I have in my hand?”
This is how Mrs. Elliot handled most challenges that came into her life–that and prayer. There have been many times I’ve stood in my kitchen or been helping a child with schoolwork and the Father has given me an idea!
For breakfast, the children are somewhat on their own. We like baked oatmeal, especially with a few chocolate chips thrown in. Did you know that leftover oatmeal can be transformed into an oatmeal bread?
In my opinion, oatmeal or peanut butter cookies have to be more nutritious than most boxed cereal. If you have the time and ingredients, make a batch several times larger than you need for 2 days. Then form the dough into logs, wrap in wax paper, tinfoil and finally put in a zip lock bread. You have instant “slice and bake” cookies!
If you have extra time, and eggs are on sale, make a bunch of egg burritos (eggs, sausage, onion, green peppers etc). Assemble in a tortilla, being careful to fold the ends in neatly. Wrap each individually and freeze. When we make waffles, I often make enough to freeze for a future breakfast.
Since I endeavor to make Sundays a special, celebratory day, that is when we usually do our “meat and potatoes” meal. We usually also have our nicest dessert of the week. It is usually whatever meat has been on sale, and I figure about half again as much as we will eat. That means if I normally need 3 pounds of roast to feed us, I will try to buy a 4.5 or 5 pound roast. This also gives us a little leeway to have guests.
This is our normal progression for various meats:
Beef Roast- Beef and Noodles over Potatoes, The next day it’s transformed, with a few cans of veggies (or leftover veggies), an onion and can of tomato sauce into soup. I try to buy or make rolls or some type of bread to go with the soup. (What is wonderful is if you can make bread bowls!) The soup from last night, perhaps thinner and with a few more additions, usually feeds us again for lunch.
Pork Roast or Pork Chops- These usually become a stir fry or rice/veggie/meat casserole the next day. Then, with some creative additions, it too becomes soup or stew or I just add more veggies and rice plus cream of mushroom soup for a casserole variation.
Chicken…oh the possibilities! – Leftover chicken can of course be a stir fry, or a chicken and noodle casserole. One favorite lately is to mix in a large cream of mushroom, large cream of chicken and warm in the crockpot. They children like it served over mashed potatoes, noodles or bread. Then of course, that can become a casserole or a soup. We purposely cook more chicken breasts so my daughter can make chicken salad, which can be served on bread or lettuce.
Another supper or lunch is the old-fashioned stuffed potatoes. I often make extra potatoes with our meat meal. The extra potatoes can be reheated, hand mashed (you don’t’ want them whipped), placed in a cake pan and lathered with butter or margarine. Leftover veggies, meat, and cheese are then layered on and broiled. A current favorite is “pizza potatoes”. I sparingly add spaghetti sauce, possibly some pepperoni, sausage or hamburger, and a layer of cheese.
We do try to keep some chimichangas from Sam’s or some frozen pizzas in the deep freeze. This is for times when I don’t have time to cook, need a break, or we are super busy. Self-control must be used so you don’t raid those when you don’t need to. Remind yourself that your stash has to last for 2 weeks or a month-whatever your shopping style!
Popcorn, apples with peanut butter and fruit, or cheese tortillas are an easy lunch. We usually use popcorn instead of chips as it’s healthier and less expensive.
Above all, seek God’s Kingdom and His Righteousness. Just as one can be a lover of money–whether they have any or not–so we can be so obsessed with every noodle we eat or asparagus we wish we had that that can become our god! We certainly don’t want to be counted along with those whose god is their stomach!
And when you don’t know what to make, stand in your kitchen, calm your heart, and ask the Father what you can make with what you have in your hand.
Monique Stam has been Terry‘s helpmate for 24 years. Their ten children, 4 daughters followed by six sons, are ages 5-22. While Monique‘s career has been her home and family, she has a degree in Sociology from Wheaton College, IL. As an only child, she has had many adventures learning the ins and outs of home educating a full house. The first of her booklets in the Learning Series is expected to be available in the fall. Join her at her sporadic blog www.journeyintojoy.blogspot.