Planning to Plan

So, the last few weeks have been…weird. Unsettled. School started, James had major abdominal surgery then got shingles, I got sick…the list goes on and on. Every day, I “planned to plan” meals – dinners and lunches. And every day, I would fall asleep. Or just be lazy, to be honest! And it’s costing time and money.

Meal planning is something so simple, takes hardly any time at all…yet it just seems like pulling my own teeth to get it done! Let’s be honest – what’s the worst thing you can hear at 5:45 p.m. and nothing is out of the freezer? “What’s for dinner?” You’re then left with scrambling to come up with something tasty out of nothing…or spending money on takeaway, or (and this happens more often than a mama should admit) you tell your kids “make yourself a bowl of cereal or a sandwich, will you?” Meanwhile, there’s food in the fridge going bad, food in the freezer getting freezer burn…and the kids are eating bowls of Crunchberry cereal. I am hanging my head in shame…

So, today, I’m planning. Actually, first, you kinda have to plan to plan. In other words, I’m not going to make a dinner plan THEN go to the store…I’m going shopping in my own freezer, fridge and cupboards, then make meal plans based on what I have ALREADY. This saves money and time – money, because I won’t be buying things I already have, but don’t know about. And time, because…well, shockingly enough, I have found enough stuff to come up with about 10 dinners, without even having to step foot in a store! So, no running to the store for forgotten ingredients!

Tonight’s meal will be…Chicken Awesome! I found this recipe on Pinterest (my favorite place to find stuff) – it didn’t have a name, so my Sissy and I started calling it Chicken Awesomeness in a Crockpot…which eventually got shortened to Chicken Awesome. And now, I’d like to present to you the first Food for Thought recipe!

Chicken Awesome

Chicken Awesome
Chicken Awesome

5 -6 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts (frozen is FINE and actually works best!)
1 12 ounce jar salsa or picante sauce
2 cans of corn, drained
2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1 8 oz block of cream cheese (or neufchatel cheese)
Tortillas OR cooked rice

Place frozen chicken breasts in crockpot (note – those plastic slow cooker liners? FABULOUS!!!) Plop the cream cheese block on top, then pour corn and beans around cream cheese block, and top with salsa. Cook on HIGH for one hour, then stir. Lower to low and cook for another 4 – 5 hours, stirring occasionally. When chicken is done, remove from crock, shred and stir back into bean/corn mixture. Serve wrapped in tortillas or over rice.  This also is WONDERMOUS the next day (leftovers) with tortilla chips!!  And trust me, unless you have a houseful of teenagers who eat like…well…teenagers, you WILL have leftovers!  My family of five has enough left over to have a full meal the next day.

This recipe is a hit for my entire family – any time you can get 5 people to like one meal, with NO complaints from anyone, it’s a keeper of a recipe!! Note – if you want to cook this while you are at work, omit the 1 hour at high, and just cook it on low for the whole time. You don’t need to worry about the stirring unless you remember to do it, and are available to do it 🙂 It still turns out…AWESOME!

I highly suggest meal planning. Just this week alone, meal planning could have saved us over $60. How? Well…we had Chinese takeaway this week. I could have made my own for a fraction of the cost. That’s another post and another bit of Food for Thought!

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God Blessed the Broken Road…even after I broke it again.

So, today is my Anniversary. My seventh, to be exact. It almost wasn’t. James and I got married seven years ago. Six years ago, our Bella was stillborn. Then we started on the merry (HA!) go round of hormones and medications and shots to try to get pregnant again…with no success. Then, I gave up. Well, rather, I gave up trying to do it ourselves. Sitting in the bathroom one day, I told God that if He wanted us to have another child, HE was going to have to do the work, because I was done. Two months later, Lillie was on the way. That began months of pregnancy hormones. Then after her birth, there was postpartum hormones and a nutty work schedule…then a layoff. And a foreclosure. And a bankruptcy. And I have depression. And bi-polar II. All this together? Not a good mix. Poor James took the brunt of it. Really, he still does. Back then, I wasn’t medicated right. At all. Nobody ever said “hey, if you have bi-polar II, you shouldn’t just take Prozac. You need something to go with it to keep it from setting your Bi-polar Ii nutso!” This would have been a good thing to know. Seriously. A really, really good thing to know. Did my psychiatrist mention this? The one who DIAGNOSED me as bi-polar II? Nope! Did my psychologist mention it? Nope. My regular, plain old GP doctor asked me in passing “have you ever been diagnosed as bi-polar II?” And suddenly my life changed.

It could have been too late. I had already told James I was done. I didn’t care enough to even try any more. God had blessed the broken road we had both traveled to reach each other…and I went and broke it again. I said the “D” word. Divorce.

God works in mysterious ways.

I needed several surgeries in the next year. How does that play into things? Well…James has great insurance, and I needed the insurance. I needed a hysterectomy and a repair of a bowel herniation. Then I needed my spine fused. Then I needed carpal-tunnel surgery on both wrists. It was like one thing after another after another! Looking at it at the time, you’d think “Jeez, this poor woman can’t catch a break!” Looking at it now, I think “thank GOD He kept breaking things in me, to give my meds time to work right! Thank GOD by the time it was all working right, my friends decided to move to Indiana and were willing to rent their house to us, and James was willing to move into the downstairs and we became close again.

Thank God James still loved (loves) me…even when I didn’t love myself.

We never take the time to look back.  I’m always telling the girls when I’m walking with them, “look where you’re going, not where you’ve been” because they tend to turn around and walk backward, or dawdle or whatnot…but sometimes you HAVE to look backward and see how far you have come. If you only look at how far you have yet to go, it can get discouraging.

James and I still have a way to go.  Maybe we’ll always have a way to go, just for different reasons at different times.  Maybe that’s why people say marriage is work.  I don’t know; I’ve never been in a marriage that worked out!  All I know is, God blessed the broken road we were on before we got together, He blessed the road we were on together, He blessed it when I broke it again.  As long as we keep our faith in Him, I reckon He’ll keep on blessing our road together.

So. What is this new blog about, anyway?

That’s the $64,000 question, isn’t it? Is it food? Is it thought? Is it stuff that feeds your brain? Is it just random brain dumps? Yep, yep, probably not, yep! In other words, I’ll talk some about food (what we eat, what i cook, recipes, grocery stores), some about how my mind works (here’s a thought – who EVER had the idea, “hey, that white thing that just came out of a chicken’s butt? Let’s eat that!”), rarely will I cause you to say to yourself “Wow, self! That was deep. I should sit here and contemplate on the beginnings of the cosmos after reading that deep stuff!”, but i will, occasionally (a lot) just dump a lot of random thoughts here. But you know what? It’s my damn blog. I can do whatever I want to here!   Oh, and here’s a little tidbit to keep in the back of your mind – sometimes…just sometimes…Mama has a potty mouth.  Welcome to Food for Thought!