Husband:  Honey, what’s for dinner?

Wife: Ok I give, what?

Oh, it’s not a joke you say.  Do you ever go to the pantry and go what am I going to make tonight?  I think we all do that from time to time.  I know a lot of people are into the menu planning for the week and use the grocery ads for the best deals.  I think this is a great idea but it hasn’t worked for me as it seems time consuming the way I tried it.  So that has led me to a different type of menu planning (or maybe not).  I like to use a seasonal 3- 4 month rotation.  Now this doesn’t always happen but it sure makes it easy when it does.

So today’s A-Z tip will be M = Menu planning.

First, ask everyone what their favorite meals are.  Compile a large list.  Put down fancy and even non-fancy items like mac ‘n’ cheese.  But not too many pre-boxed stuff as you will find better alternatives doing this that will save not only money but will be healthier.

Next, break them down by seasons.  I.E. salads for summer, soups for winter, etc

Now you want to think of your schedule.  Are there nights, like Wednesday night church, that you will need a quick dinner or leftovers?  What about some night that everyone can try a new recipe together?  Don’t forget breakfasts and lunches when needed.

With all this info in hand you want to start putting a 3-4 season (some of us don’t have as many seasons as others…ours just hot, hotter, and “Where am I again?”) menu together i.e. Jan-Mar or Jan-April, etc.  Next list your Sunday-Saturday’s.  And finally fill in the menu items.

Make sure when you plan this to add a new recipe night at least once in the rotation (but try a few more if you can).  And try not to double up as much as possible.  If you take time to create this I bet you have more things that you know how to cook then you think.

Finally gather up all your info and put it into a menu planning binder.  You may want to use clear protectors since this will end up in the kitchen no doubt.

Use can use this binder for your shopping.  And if you want to use the store ads to get the best deals just shop ahead. Take your binder and look at what’s on sale to what you are going to be cooking in the next month or so for non-perishable items or items that can freeze.  Make sure you make note that you have purchased that item so you don’t pick it up again.

Menu planning is a stress reliever.  It may not always happen but when it does it sure makes life happier when you don’t have that deer in the headlights look at 6 pm.

If your hubby is the cook, as I know a lot of men are, this may be helpful for them.  This works great for anyone who is having trouble with added expenses on last minute purchases at the store, the people saying AUGGHH when fixing dinner, those who may always seem to forget key ingredients to recipes, and those who are fixing the same things over and over again.  But if hubby is the cook and there are no problems don’t mess with a good thing!

So what do you say?  Wanna start?

Have a “planning” day.

P.S – Don’t forget about my contest.  Link/ping any of my A-Z tips and let me know so I can enter you in my first contest.  See post on wanna know what you are playing for to see prizes.


It’s a hard time financially, for many people out there.  I have worked for a bank and a debt management agency so I have picked up a few tips over the years.  If money is an issue for you, please pray about it.  I really believe God would love to show us what to do with our money.  After you have done that seek financial help if you are in real need.  People love to help if they know what the need is.

Here are some general tips:

  • Keep a budget.  I know it’s hard but if money is your issue, you need to know where it is going.  Also have a dry erase board with all debts listed so that you can see it.  When one gets paid off give yourself a (small) treat!
  • Remember that debt is bondage.  Even if it’s a no interest plan, it still hangs over your head and takes money out of your budget every month until it’s done.
  • If you do have debt, ask for lower interest rates.  This is one of the easiest and quickest things to do.
  • Check your credit report once a year to ensure there has been no one using your credit.  Also to see if there are issues you need to clean up.  If your credit score goes up that means lower interest rates for you (800 good -500 not so good).
  • Hang out with people that are financially equivalent or  slightly less.  I am not saying this to be exclusive but to be realistic.  If the majority of people that you are friends with are in a higher income bracket, most people find themselves dissatisfied with their lives.  If you hang out with people in your income bracket or less you’ll have less pressure to purchase things you can’t afford.  If they have less than you, it can make you more grateful for what you have and share with others in need instead of spending it on yourself.  This is also helpful when purchasing a home.  Some people buy bigger for the investment and not only become stressed with the financial burden but also have a hard time associating with neighbors who are (maybe) above their income level.  I can’t tell you how many people I have known over the years that get in a problem when they start hanging out with people in a much higher income bracket.  All of a sudden things they never wanted before they start wanting.  They will talk about what cars someone else has.  They wonder….”Why can’t we have that?”  ETC.
  • Look at every bill carefully.  When I worked at a debt management agency there were many people who never even opened their bills.  With on-line bill paying, I think this will become even more common.  You need to check to see if charges are correct.  I once had a gas station charge me twice.  You’ll also want to check your utility bills as your bill may go up and you think nothing has changed.  You can contact them and see if they can help figure why it jumped.  You also need to know what you are paying in interest every month and what the rate is.  Add the amounts up and see if you are done with giving that amount of money away to someone you don’t even know.
  • Payoff credit cards, don’t close the accounts.  Closing an account can actually bring down your credit score.
  • Review all bills to see if everything you have is really what you need/want and if it can be reduced.  You can contact the companies to see if there is a better plan for you based on your history.  For example, your contract is done on your cell phone and you don’t need a new phone but you want to see if your plan can be reduced or modified.  You contact the company to see what plan would be best for you based on your history.  ALWAYS REMEMBER to see if this will add to your contract.  Get all the details of the change.
  • SAVE, SAVE, SAVE.  Of course everyone wants to save but it seems very difficult.  Start small.  It doesn’t have to be a huge amount.  Take $5 automatically a month and transfer right into a savings account.  Most banks do this and most people don’t miss the $5.  Give yourself a goal and up it every couple of months.  Before you know it you will have an emergency fund.  But pay off debt first as savings accounts pay very low interest rates.
  • Limit store time and go with a list.  I know that many people, myself included, will use shopping as a retail therapy.  Obviously this adds up.  The “it’s only $1.00” gets expensive after awhile.  How many times have you went to the register and thought “How much?” when they told you your total?
  • Make savings a family event and a game. You may not be married but get anyone you consider family involved.  Not only does it make you accountable but they can help keep an outside perspective.  If you are married and have children, even kids can help.  They want to know what’s going on.  Did you know what your parents financial situation was?  If not, what do you think it would have been like to know.  Would it be better to know why you can’t afford a new TV if you know that the goal is saving for a vacation instead?  I would rather know what is going on then be in the dark.  This will help them in the future and know what some of the stress in the family is about.
  • Have a proper filling system.  Research something that works for you and keep up to date so that you can know where your information is at when you need it.
  • Be Pro-Active.  This was mentioned in many of the tips above.  But really take this on as a project.  Knowledge is power.  It takes time, but think of it as a remodel.  You have to find a contractor, make decisions on what you want, and then there is the demolition of your existing kitchen.  In the middle of the remodel you are thinking what have we done, but when it’s done….WOW!!!!  Wouldn’t that be great if you go to the end of a remodel of your financial situation?  Find out what your situation is (REALLY) and set some goals!

I hope these tips are helpful.  Here are some websites that can give you additional info as well. 

Dave Ramsey –

Crown Financial Ministries –

Have a “financially free” day!

I am an informationaholic!!!!  Have I said that before?  Well it’s true!  I am addicted and was in need of help.  I had to find a local Information Anonymous (IA) Chapter.  Here’s a bit of what took place.  I must worn you there are graphic pictures.

“Hello, my name is Debbie”  

 “Hi, Debbie” 

She continues on “and I love to collect information and enter it on (ashamed face) index cards.” 

Slide show starts of the Channel 29 News Bulletin when the house was raided…

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You could hear a pin drop.  The pictures were damaging for sure.  You could see the pain and hurt.  All those attending could sympathize with her situation as they had been there before.  Little did they know what shocking secrets were still ahead that evening.

Through tears she manages to continue on.  “It was awful the day they came and found the goods!  I thought what am I going to do when Christmas comes and I want to do homemade gifts?  Where will all my ideas be?  Recycling ideas,  cooking tips, and what about if I wanted to try a new fruit facial?  Not to mention the chemical free cleaning ideas.  Noooooooooooo, I plead with the agents as they cart it away.

She continues with her storyconfession, “Thankfully the agents didn’t see the accordion folder containing all my travel information on every state.  They also didn’t know about the files on local restaurants.  The family folder that contains ideas and coupons for fun family events.  Shopping coupon organizer.  The business idea folder.  The home improvement binder.  Not to mention all the files on holidays.” 

She realized that she may have said too much by the reactions of those seated in front of her.  “Please do not send the authorities.  I promise I will turn a new leaf.  I will keep what I have and not add anymore…I promise!!!”

Everyone looks around the room to each other.  They all silently know that she is not ready to commit to being well.  She is still in way to deep and not ready to give up her addiction.  They know that extreme measures will be necessary.  An intervention may be the only thing that can save her!

“Debbie, we believe that you are not well.  You can’t get help if you are still holding onto all those files.  We must demand that you give them to us at once.  We are your friends!”

“But we just met.  This was my first meeting.”

“We want to help you.  Please give us the files or we will be forced to bring in others from the outside.”  They all knew what that meant.

“I don’t think I can do that.  All of them?  Not my holiday open house file?  But St. Patrick’s Day is coming up what will I do?  What about the crafts for the children.  Think of the children!!!!!”  she begs.

“You will have to do without for now.  You can get ideas from others but you must not write them down.  But we really think a break is what you need to come clean.”

“This is too extreme!!!!  I don’t think I have the strength.”

The situation was tense to say the least.  Everyone knew what needed to be done.  The authorities are brought in and she is forced to an Information Detoxic Center for an undisclosed amount of time.  No Internet, magazines, books, or index cards.  It’s been heard that she wakes up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat trying to write ideas on her sheets with a lip liner.  There may be no hope!

No, I didn’t get beamed up last night (although I may have wanted to).   Have you seen articles on crafts that reuse items?  Sometimes these take a lot of resources, don’t look good, or turn something that was recyclable into trash. 

My oldest and I worked on a project that covered OJ containers for pencil holders.   We ended up not having enough contact paper so I bought some more thinking I would use it up (can anyone say gas and $).  The contact paper didn’t cover up the writing and we still have some paper left over.  It didn’t look that great and not long after ended up in the trash as my son wasn’t as thrilled when it was all done.

I now realize that I need to be careful in trying to reuse items that I don’t spend more time and resources than just to recycle to begin with.  You are doing the craft for the kids but if in the end it’s turned something that can no longer be recycled is it worth it?  I also ask myself if it can be used for a long period of time?  And if the materials are on hand and cheap?

Have you any stories of successful or non-successful reusing of items?  I would love to hear that I am not the only one or that yours turned out better than ours did.

Have a reduce, reuse, and recycling kind of day!


31 And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, a sixth day. (Gen 1:31)

P.S. – As a side note, I know Christmas is over but people still use bows for other gifts so I thought I would pass this info along.  I got this post from:

Here’s an interesting, but sad, fact about holiday trash from The Daily News:

According to the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, 38,000 miles of ribbon is thrown in the trash each year — enough to tie a bow around the planet.

Please reuse bows. I used to laugh at my mother for doing just that.

This is the final lesson from the email my friend sent me.  I hope you have enjoyed these as much as I have.   

5 – Fifth Important Lesson – Giving When it Counts…                          

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Many years ago, when I worked as a volunteer at a
hospital, I got to know a little girl named Liz who
was suffering from a rare &serious disease. Her only
chance of recovery appeared to be a blood
transfusion from her 5-year old brother, who had
miraculously survived the same disease and had
developed the antibodies needed to combat the
illness. The doctor explained the situation to her
little brother, and asked the little boy if he would
be willing to give his blood to his sister.

I saw him hesitate for only a moment before taking a
deep breath and saying, “Yes I’ll do it if it will
save her” As the transfusion progressed, he lay in
bed next to his sister and smiled, as we all did,
seeing the color returning to her cheek. Then his
face grew pale and his smile faded.

He looked up at the doctor and asked with a
trembling voice, “Will I start to die right away”.

Being young, the little boy had misunderstood the
doctor; he thought he was going to have to give his
sister all of his blood in order to save her.

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(author Unknown)

“Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God. Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.” — Mark 10:14-15 (NKJV)