The Magic of an Apron.
Want to know a secret? I wear an apron pretty much every day and I love it. Ladies, if you don’t wear an apron, you may be missing out on the forgotten magic of apron-wearing. I’m a nice person, and I’m pro-homemaking magic, so I can’t have you being all muggle in your routines. It would be sad.
I have been wearing an apron almost every day for over a year now, and it changed my attitude and level of effectiveness as a homemaker. Who knew?! Here’s the deal: you can wear an apron only to protect your clothes when you are doing something you predict will be messy (utilitarian and non-magical) or you could wear it as a *uniform* of domestic honor (vocational and magical). When I wear an apron now, it is no longer a matter of mere utility, now it’s a visible sign of my vocation, a sign to myself that I embrace my role in my family and home. The apron, for me, is an affirmation that this work I do is valid, valuable, honorable work and when I do it “as to the Lord” he is as willing to use it for his glory as he would be to use a more obviously monetized work. Homemaking is real work, it’s a largely lost art, and it’s worthy of honor.
Think of it this way; Police Officers are worthy of honor and respect because they protect our families and homes while risking their own. Their uniforms tell us instantly, “this is what I am giving my life to do”. We recognize that and should absolutely honor it. I shouldn’t even have to reiterate that, and I’m sad that I do. The uniform tells you that this is an embraced vocation.
My apron is not the same as a badge for obvious reasons, but when worn as a uniform, it can still be an echo. It still says, “This is what I am giving my life to do.”
I make this contrast on purpose because of the mental frown that results from comparing “protect and serve” to “scrub and stir”. If all my apron signifies is “scrub and stir” then I wear it in utility. And if I think of my role at home as an extended list of insignificant tasks, then I have missed the glory of my vocation. My job isn’t to scrub and stir. It isn’t less than that, but it isn’t that. My calling, my role, my vocation is very much to nurture, protect and serve. I still practice laying down my life, my self-interest, for my husband, children, and neighbors to glorify God. This matters. Women, this is expansive and meaningful. We are called to nurture life in its multitude of forms, through our multitude of gifts, and when we do, when we understand how much this matters to our own families and extends into future generations, it ceases to be a mere chore list and starts to be a calling full of possibility and challenge.
After I have had my coffee and had my morning read, I rise and put on my apron and it’s my way of saying, “God, I accept this work from your hands. Help me to submit and surrender to the day you have laid out. Teach me to glorify you in this seemingly insignificant way and multiply my small efforts, my imperfect attempts to live out joyfulness in your design. Please grow in me a readiness to serve and protect, to nurture and support. Help me to stay focused on my vocation while I wear this apron, and when I am done and hang it up, help me be grateful.” When I set this intention it helps me in all my reluctance and little faith.
The home matters. Families matter. Civilization hangs on homes and families. Children matter. Marriage matters. Holiness matters. Discipleship matters. These are and have always been, the purview of home.
Therefore homemaking matters.
The magic of an apron is knowing the difference between utility and vocation. I’m really and truly trying to learn this in my home and heart. It’s hard. I have way more words than successes. Even so ladies, I want to lift the apron from the rank of menial and mundane. May it be an echo of honor. May it help you lean into sanctification and pursue holiness. May it be magic. I invite you to get your apron out of the drawer and dust it off with a new vision. Embrace the dignity of your calling as you tie the strings. Set your shoulders for joy and wear a new understanding of the honor and dignity of homemaking.
May your aprons and Bibles both be well-worn,
The Remedial Homemaker
Surviving the back-to-school season without resorting to convenience foods!
How to make twenty-four to twenty-seven simple chicken freezer meals for your Instant Pot or crock pot in just a few hours.
I prepared these recipes (chicken lentil stew, chicken white bean chili, Tuscan chicken stew, chicken veggie soup base, and chicken enchiladas) plus those from my fully prepared meal post and my ground beef post in the last few days using the planning method I explained here. You can do it too! Now I have roughly sixty total meals in my freezer to use when I can’t spend much time in the kitchen. The grand total cost was about $200, which makes each meal less than $5 for my family of four. Isn’t that fantastic?! I will use these meals over roughly the next six months and they will save me stress and many hundreds of dollars on busy days when we’d be tempted to eat out or order in.
- These meals all used boneless/skinless chicken breasts that I picked up on sale. You could also use boneless/skinless chicken thighs. Check out my planning post for more help converting your own recipes to freezer meals.
- We leave the broth out of these recipes and substitute Organic Better than Bullion right in the freezer bag. It’s a concentrated bullion paste to which you add water. Add about 2 Tablespoons BTB per bag.
- You will add the water (or broth if you prefer) on the day you cook the meal, not to the bags you freeze. When you cook the meals, you need to add the quantity of water from the broth in the recipes, PLUS the water to finish the beans. A good rule of thumb: Cover soaked beans with enough water to reach up to your second knuckle on your index finger (about 2 inches). You’ll have to experiment with your preferences.
- Also, leave out dairy, greens, raw mushrooms, and potatoes. These things don’t freeze well so add them on the day you cook the meal. Add greens and dairy at the end.
- I only made five different recipes, but I made multiples of each so I can use them over the next six months or so. This isn’t like once-a-month cooking where you use all the meals the same month, so I am able to simplify my selections and make multiples of each meal. This is so. much. easier.
- Yes, in the Instant Pot you can make these meals from frozen. I do. Just defrost the meals enough to break them into chunks and fit them in the pot. You don’t need to adjust the cooking time, just know it will take longer to come up to pressure. Be sure there is at least a half a cup of liquid in the bottom of the pot when you cook it or it won’t come up to pressure properly.
Step One: Prep
- On the night before you plan to do your meals, clean up your kitchen and do your dishes so you have counter space and all the dishes you need available.
- Check your inventory. Print each recipe and go over them checking to be sure you have enough of each ingredient. Don’t skip this. I always do, and I always seem to forget something or think I have enough when I don’t. This time I ran out of Kosher salt. It’s the kind of thing you don’t think to check but should. Do you have enough freezer bags? Do you have two disposable foil cake pans for your enchiladas?
- If using dry beans for chili or Tuscan stew, soak them overnight if you’re going to be cooking these meals in your Instant Pot. If you plan to cook these meals in the crock pot, cook your beans first or use canned beans. You’ll notice that I didn’t soak my beans ahead of time for my beef chili, and that’s because beef can handle a longer cooking time than chicken breast. If you want to use dried beans in your instant pot, you can, just use chicken thighs instead of breasts so they don’t overcook by the time your beans are done. Don’t soak the lentils.
- Cook the beans you want for your pans of enchiladas (unless you are using canned).
Step Two: Chop Veggies and Cook Rice
- On the day of your freezer meal session, chop all your vegetables first. For these recipes, I used five large onions and 12-15 cloves of garlic. I have carrots in my garden so I peeled and sliced these as well. You could easily just get a large bag of baby carrots and use those. I also sliced and cleaned six leeks for the Tuscan stew.
- While you are chopping veggies, cook your favorite rice for enchiladas. My favorite rice is the brown basmati I get from the bulk section at my local Winco. I cook it in the Instant Pot in this ratio: 1 cup rice to 1 1/4 cups water. Add a pat of butter and some salt. Cook for 18 minutes. Quick pressure release, fluff with a fork. Set aside. Make 2-3 cups of uncooked rice.
- Drain all your soaked beans and set aside in bowls.
- Get out all the spices you will be using.
Step Three: Portion Chicken and Cook Some for Enchiladas
- Label all your bags and set aside. When you label them write down on each bag what to add on the day of cooking. For example, on the White Chicken Chili, write “Add water” and “Finish with Neufchatel cheese”. Always write on the bag to remind yourself to add water to soups and chilis. Ask me how I know. 🙂
- Now you’re ready to portion chicken into gallon-sized zip top freezer bags. Put two raw chicken breasts in each bag. That may not seem like enough, but with beans and vegetables it works out to be plenty. This portion keeps each meal under $5.00 for a family of four, but you can add more if you prefer.Here’s my breakdown of how many meals per recipe:Chicken Veggie Soup Base: 2 bags that will feed us for two to three meals depending on how I use them. Four to six total meals. My soup base is just chicken breasts, frozen mixed vegetables, poultry seasoning, and Better Than Bullion. It is the base for Chicken and Dumplings, Chicken Gravy Over Rice/Potatoes, or Chicken and Wild Rice (or Barley or Noodle) soup. It just makes the prep easier for me when I’m making these meals. If these aren’t family favorites for you, just leave this recipe out and substitute something you prefer.
Chicken Lentil Stew: 3 bags that will feed us for two dinners. Six total meals. Instant Pot: using dry lentils, cook time on “manual” is 8 minutes. Crock Pot: do low 4-6 hrs.
Chicken White Bean Chili: 2 bags that will feed us for two to three meals. Four to six total meals. LEAVE OUT the cheese and garnishes until your cooking day. Instant Pot: using soaked beans, cook time on “bean” is 20-25 minutes. Unsoaked, add about 10 minutes. Crock pot: low 6-8 hrs, high for 4-5.
Tuscan Chicken Stew: 3 bags that will feed us for two to three meals. Six to nine total meals. I just really love this soup. LEAVE OUT the potatoes, kale, and cheese until your cooking day. Add them at the end and simmer on “saute” until they are finished. Maybe 20 minutes? Instant Pot: soaked beans, cook time on “bean” is 20-25 minutes, unsoaked is 30-40. Crock Pot: low 6-8 hrs, high for 4-5.
Chicken Enchiladas: 2 pans to freeze that will feed us for two meals. and 1 to eat for dinner on the day I’m freezer cooking. Five total meals. I don’t use a recipe for these, but here are my ingredients: 4 shredded chicken breasts, about 5 cans of beans, 4-5 cups cooked and cooled rice, shredded cheese, 2 large cans of enchilada sauce, 2 cups of salsa, sliced olives, 2 small bags frozen corn, and 16 burrito sized flour tortillas. If you are gluten free (or just prefer corn) use corn tortillas but layer them in the dish like a lasagna rather than rolling them like enchiladas.
- Cook the four chicken breasts for the enchiladas. If using your Instant Pot, follow these directions for the simplest shredded chicken. Add taco seasoning if you like. Set aside.
Step Four: Assemble Raw Meals and Freeze
- Following the recipe directions, saute the aromatics for the Tuscan Stew and set aside to cool
- Go recipe by recipe and add the things you need for each meal. Add in this general order: chicken, beans, veggies, herbs and spices, bullion.
- As you finish the bags for each recipe, remove the air from the bags with a straw, close the bags, and lay flat to freeze. Flat bags store easier.
- Once the aromatics for the Tuscan Stew is cooled down to warm, assemble these meals as well, remove the air, and freeze flat.
Step Five: Assemble Enchiladas
- Shred your cooked chicken and in a large bowl, mix it with the set aside cooked rice, beans, corn, spices, and salsa. Taste it. Add cumin and coriander if you want to liven it up.
- Open up your olives and enchilada sauce, and get out your shredded cheese.
- Spray your two disposable casserole dishes with non-stick spray and pour 1/2 of a large can of sauce into the bottom of each pan.
- Fill your tortillas with the rice/chicken/bean mixture, then olives, then some cheese. Roll and place in casserole dish. I fill mine pretty generously and end up with 6 large enchiladas per pan. Reserve some of each for your dinner tonight.
- Pour an additional 1/3 of a large can of enchilada sauce over the top of each pan, sprinkle with cheese, then a few more olives. Cover with heavy duty foil and write baking instructions on top. “Thaw. Bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes-ish”. Freeze these.
- You should still have some filling, 3 tortillas, toppings, and 1/3 can of enchilada sauce for your own dinner. Layer them in a baking dish and top with the sauce. Bake at 375 for 30-40 minutes till it’s all heated through and cheese is beginning to brown.
- Now try to muster the motivation to clean up your kitchen, or delegate this task. Don’t let it wait until tomorrow though, you’ll be sad to see it in the morning.
- Eat dinner. Congratulate yourself for saving so much money and working hard.
This process usually takes me close to 6 hours. I’m sure many of you could do it faster. I just have a teeny tiny space and my kids are almost always home while I do it, so it takes longer than it should.
There you have it friends, my process for freezer meal cooking twice a year to save my sanity during the school year. I do hope you will read through these posts and apply the methods to your own recipes or try some of my favorites. I’ve already heard from so many of you who have made this idea your own or used these recipes and that makes my heart happy.
This series has been a labor of love for you all. It’s not fancy, but I hope it’s practical and informative. I sincerely desire to bless you in your homes and help relieve the pressure and stress of failing to get dinner on the table. Go with grace into the new school year.
May your aprons and Bibles both be well-worn,
The Remedial Homemaker
Today I made between 24-27 meals and saved up to $1000.00. This is why I hassle with Instant Pot/Crock Pot freezer meals. The investment of time is absolutely worth it.
In part one of this series, I explained how to do fully cooked freezer meals. In part two I helped you think through planning so you can apply the method to your own meals. Follow the links for more information.
Here in part three, I am showing you how I do a freezer meal cooking session for ground beef/turkey meals in the Instant Pot and Crock Pot. On the day of cooking, these meals take mere minutes of hands on time to prepare. Incidentally, they are also gluten free and dairy free when I freeze them.
I started with 20 lbs of ground beef which I have gathered and frozen as I’ve found it on sale. With this beef, I will make multiples of only four different recipes that I can adapt into different meals on the days I cook them. I have a super tiny kitchen so I need to do this in two sessions. In session one, I made taco meat and chili. In session two, I made plain seasoned ground beef and Italian pasta sauce.
I can use the taco meat for tacos, taco salads, taco mac, taco soup, baked potato topping or whatever else I can think of.
I can use the chili as just plain delicious chili, toppings for potatoes for a lunch, or, because my husband totally loves it: chili tortellini. It’s like Mexico and Italy had a little rolly poly mexi-talian soup noodle baby. It’s wrong in all the most delicious ways.
I can use the plain seasoned beef in salads, soups, hamburger veggie stew, goulash, or if I’m really missing my mom and dad, hamburger gravy over rice. There were some lean years of hard work growing up, but somehow my mama put home-cooked dinners on the table every single night, and this was one of them. I have sentimental feelings about hamburger gravy over rice and a side of steamed green beans.
I can use the Italian pasta sauce in spaghetti, baked penne, or lasagna, or any other application where you’d need a meaty delicious homemade marinara.
From that list, you can see that although I am freezing multiples of these different recipes, it doesn’t mean we are eating the same thing over and over. Flexibility and variety are built in because I keep the recipes I choose simple and versatile.
These 24-27 meals cost less than $3.00 per dinner for my family of four. Considering the taco meat and plain seasoned beef are just main ingredients, the fully composed meals will be more expensive, but still easily under $5.00 each.
If we went out to dinner or ordered fast food/take out, it would easily cost at least $20.00-$50.00. My freezer meals are specifically designed to fill a need on the days I’d be most likely to cave in and order something. This means I am saving a potential $45.00 each time I cook one. That’s real savings!
If I estimate twenty-five meals, and I use them over six months time when we’d be otherwise tempted to eat out, I will have saved my family between $575.00 and $1125.00!
Best of all, this means that I just made between $143.20 and $281.00 PER HOUR of my four-hour freezer meal prep today. Boom. That’s fantastic. This is part of how I honor my husband for his hard work to provide for our family while I stay home. It’s part of how *I* provide for us, and that makes me feel good.
How To Do It
Session One: Taco and Chili
10 lbs ground beef or turkey
8 cups of dried chili beans (instant pot) or 16 cups of your favorite cooked or canned beans
4 28oz cans of diced tomatoes
4 28oz cans of crushed tomatoes
1 can tomato paste
6 packets of chili seasoning or about 1/3 cup of your favorite chili spice
Additional cumin and coriander
3 large sweet onions diced
8 cloves of minced garlic
1/3 cup taco seasoning
Directions: Use two large pots. Dice onion and mince garlic. Get out your spices. Rinse and portion the beans in four gallon-sized freezer bags. Label them “Chili–add water”. Label another two “taco”.
Brown approximately 1/3 of the total beef in one pot for taco meat and the 2/3 in another pot for chili. Don’t overkill the beef. Be gentle. It’s all going to cook again. Add onion and garlic to these yum-tastic pots of meat. Drain them and return them to the pots.
Season one for taco add extra cumin and coriander. Set aside to cool. one for chili. Add extra cumin and coriander to each. It’s yummy. Note: you’re going to feel like you’re over seasoning this meat, especially the chili meat. Do it anyway. You have to remember that you’re storing the seasoning for an entire big pot of chili in this meat. Fat carries the flavor compounds and the heat will bloom the flavor even further. Your chili meat will look dark brown and it will be thick. Go with it.
Add chili seasoning to the remaining meat. Stir and wait till it smells super good. Add extra cumin and coriander again, and some cayenne if you’re spicy. It’s yummy. Note: you’re going to feel like you’re over seasoning this meat, especially the chili meat. Do it anyway. You have to remember that you’re storing the seasoning for an entire big pot of chili in this meat. Fat carries the flavor compounds and the heat will bloom the flavor even further. Add the can of tomato paste and stir it in good. Let it cook on the bottom of your pan for a while. When it’s all hot and happy your chili meat will look dark brown and it will be thick. Go with it.
Remove from heat and let cool slightly while you open your 8 large cans of tomatoes (4 diced, 4 crushed).
Portion out the chili meat into your 4 bags on top of your beans. Add 1 can of diced and one can of crushed tomatoes to each. You don’t need to mix it all in. It will mix as it cooks.
Portion out your taco meat into your two labeled bags.
Be sure your bags are close to room temperature before you seal them. Suck out the air with a straw so they don’t freezer burn.
Lay all freezer meals flat to freeze. When they are frozen you can stand them up like books and they’ll take up much less space.
Day Of Cooking Instructions:
Taco: defrost taco meat and use however you want.
Chili: For Instant Pot: Defrost enough to break it up and fit it in the pot. Add 4 cups water (ish? eyeball it), put on the lid, and push the bean/chili button and adjust to 40 minutes. Go read a book or clean the kitchen or do whatever you want till it’s done. It will take about 20 minutes to come to pressure so the total time will be about an hour, but your actual hands on time
For Instant Pot: Using dry beans. Defrost enough to break it up and fit it in the pot. Add 4-5 cups water ish? eyeball it, put on the lid, and push the bean/chili button and adjust to 40 minutes. Go read a book or clean the kitchen or do whatever you want till it’s done. It will take about 20 minutes to come to pressure so the total time will be about an hour, but your actual hands on time is about 2 minutes. No stirring. No checking. No mess. No nothing.
For Crock Pot: Using cooked/canned beans. Defrost in the fridge over night (or in your sink, but don’t tell the food police). Add to your meal and 2-3 cups water or till it looks right to you. Turn it on low for 6-8 hours or high for about 4 hours.
Top with everything you like as long as you include pickled jalapenos. DO IT!
Ok, at this point you are half way home. Clean up, wash out your pots. Put your first batch of meals in the freezer.
Session Two: Italian Pasta Sauce and Plain Seasoned
10 pounds of ground beef or turkey
4 sweet onions diced (I really like onions ok?)
8 cloves minced garlic
2 28oz cans diced tomatoes
4 28oz cans crushed tomatoes
1/4 cup Italian seasoning (I’m sure I use more)
Directions: Use two big pots on your stove. Label 4 gallon-sized bags “Italian Pasta Sauce” and 2 “Plain Seasoned GB”.Dice onion and mince garlic. Brown 1/3 of the total meat in one pot for plain seasoned beef, and 2/3 in the other for pasta sauce. Add the onions, garlic, salt and pepper. Drain when they are done. Return to pots. Set plain seasoned beef aside to cool.
For Italian, add a can of tomato paste, stir it in and cook it well. Deglaze the pot with diced tomatoes, then add the crushed. This fills my biggest pot. Add Italian spices. add extra basil, then simmer a while. You want it to meld a little. Turn it off and let it cool till warm.
Portion plain meat into two labeled bags and spread it out thin and flat. This is the only thing about me that is thin and flat. Suck the air out of the bags with a straw.
Portion sauce into 4 bags. Using a standard ladle, these bags will portion out perfectly with 7 generous scoops each. Lay flat. Make sure they are close to room temperature before you put them in the freezer.
Day Of Cooking Instructions:
Plain Seasoned: defrost and use however you want
Instant Pot: If using frozen, defrost enough to break it into chunks and put it in the pot. Add about 2/3 cup water. Don’t skip this if you are using frozen. It won’t come to pressure without water. Put on the lid, set the timer for 3 minutes on manual. Read a book or do whatever. Your sauce will be done in less than 30 minutes of hands-off time.
If using defrosted sauce, add to pot and set the timer for 3 minutes. You can also add a pound of pasta and 4 cups water right to the pot, add some salt, stir it, set it for 5 minutes, and have the pasta and sauce done at the same time. This works best with shorter pasta like penne.
Crock Pot: defrost overnight in your fridge or sink. Crock on low for 4-5 hours or high for 2-3 hours, or until it’s hot.
You can certainly also use your stove top. That’s still a thing.
There you go, ladies. I know there are many other websites and blogs you can go to for freezer meals and recipes, but I really wanted you to be able to see how a real remedial homemaker might simply and efficiently do freezer meals and save yourself real time and money. I hope it inspires you to look at your own recipes and think through how you might do the same. In my next post, I’ll walk you through how I do this for twenty pounds of chicken breast.
Lastly, yes, I do make other more elaborate, slow-foodie, homey dishes with traditional cooking methods. I don’t intend for these meals to be one month’s worth of food. I use them as filler around the on days when I am not able to make time in the kitchen. That’s why this post is different than some other posts you may have read. I’m preparing for low capacity days, that’s why I do so much with just two cuts of meat. These meals and the chicken ones I’m about to make will last me 4-6 months of busy days, and that’s such a blessing.
May your aprons and Bibles both be well-worn,
The Remedial Homemaker
Welcome to post number two of how not to starve when your school schedules start back again. It’s a time of family transition for all of us and these meals make it so much easier on busy days. In my last post I told you how I do fully-prepared freezer meals, so check that out if you missed it. Today I am explaining how I plan for freezer meals you cook on the day you eat them.
What You’ll Get:
A freezer meal planning method you can apply to any of your own favorite recipes. These meals are prepared uncooked and then frozen. You cook them on the day you want to eat them.
Links to the simple delicious recipes I’m using. In my next post, I will share how I optimize them for Instant Pot (my true love) along with instructions for crock pot cooking.
Tips on how not to screw it up like I have. This is your gold mine right here. Your welcome.
Note: These recipes are generally healthy whole food and mostly gluten free. …Um, because I’m going to add warm homemade bread. Yum!
What You Won’t Get:
Step by step instructions for each recipe. If I did that, each recipe would be an entire post. Part of learning to do this in your real life is to sit down and use the method yourself. You’ll need to walk through the process for yourself, with recipes you love, in order to make it work for your family and your available time.
Lot’s of fancy food pictures. Sorry. But could I really be The Remedial Homemaker and also have all the gear and skill for amazing food photography? No.
Hear This: Planning is the most important part of freezer meal prep. Don’t skimp on this. It’s time-consuming but not difficult, and you need to do it or your prep day will be much harder. …Like when I ordered forty pounds of chicken and figured it would only take a few hours to cut it all up and put together meals and I had done literally nothing in advance. Don’t do that. It will remind you of the limits of your mortality but it’s not fun.
Warning: If you have never done this, you may want to start small. Maybe only do two or three different meals so you can see what you think of the process. Confession, I generally don’t start anything small. That holds true for freezer cooking as well. My first session took 8 hours, mostly due to poor planning, and I had about 30 meals and a backache to show for it. Honestly, I prefer this approach because there’s nothing like the deep end for learning, but still, I feel duty bound to inform you that if you start big, it will be a little overwhelming and you will have a truly stunning mess to clean up when you’re done. If you wanna come to the dark side with me, then dive in girls, you’ll have so many meals in the freezer and it will feel great…but not till you’re done. It now takes me about 4 hours to make about 27 meals, but it may take you longer when you’re beginning. You’ve been warned.
Step One: Decide What You Want To Make.
As I mentioned in my last post, I plan around protein. This helps me save steps and manage cooking times. I do all my main ingredient cooking, then all my ground beef meals, then all my chicken meals. I will walk you through each of these as I do them in upcoming posts. It isn’t super important what you choose as long as you like it and it’s suited to freezing.
Consider your preferred cooking method as you plan out what to make. My whole purpose in freezer cooking is to save myself time and brain space on busy or otherwise crazy days. Therefore, I optimize my recipes for pressure cooking, but they can also be optimized for a slow cooker. Consider cooking times for different ingredients as you decide what you want to make. If you put pasta in your Instant Pot for more than about 5 minutes it disintegrates. You need to know the cooking times of your recipes in order to avoid errors like that. You can still do pasta dishes, but the noodles need to be added on the day of cooking. Read through your recipe directions and consider what will need to be left for the day of cooking, and what you can assemble and freeze ahead.
Step Two: Put Together An Ingredient List.
Print out all your recipes and really go over them for quantities. If you’re doing 8 meals that will serve your family twice, how many onions will you need? Garlic? How many pounds of meat? Beans? What kind of wine will you be sipping as you cook? These are important matters. Make a master list. Check sales and prices on canned goods to save money.
Consider how you might use the same ingredients for more than one kind of meal. For example, I’m going to prep a very good white bean chicken chili. It uses cannellini beans. How else might I use cannellini beans? Do I have a ham hock? Since I’m going to make cannellini beans, could I just set some aside with ham and a ham hock for ham and white bean soup? If it doesn’t add much work, I usually go ahead and add that second meal as well.
Add to your master list quart and gallon sized freezer bags. Don’t forget these. I forgot them. Also, make sure you have enough spices. Don’t assume you have enough in the spice drawer and have to leave in the middle of your cooking session like some people…
Step Three: Prioritize Your Prep List
Think through the steps of your recipes and decide which things you can do the day before. Then decide what order to do the remaining tasks on the day you are freezer meal cooking.
For example. Many of the recipes I am doing include beans. When I have a protein that can handle longer cooking times, like beef or chicken thighs, I just pour dry beans in the bag and freeze them unsoaked and uncooked with the rest of the ingredients. When I have a shorter cooking protein like chicken breast or sausage, the beans should be pre-cooked. If you don’t pre-cook them, your meat will be over cooked by the time your beans are done. You can use canned beans but I love the delicious ease and frugality of cooking them from dry in the Instant pot so I make mine from scratch a day or two in advance and store them in the fridge.
What else can you do in advance with the meals you have? Think it through. What could you dice, measure out, or cook ahead? What should be done first on your cooking day?
Step Four: Plan Something For Your Kids To Do
This is going to take a few hours if you do more than a couple meals. What can your kids be doing? Maybe play outside with a new sprinkler? Could you rent them a movie and put out snacks? Better yet, can they go to a friends house for the morning? It’s best to plan this as well so you don’t find yourself tired and irritated by all the interruptions.
Yes, you can have them help you. I don’t. You know why? Because it takes a lot of concentration to do 10-30 meals at a time and I have a hard time managing the helping expectations of my kids and also actually getting the meals made. I prefer to have them help me on the days I make the meals for dinner.
Step Five: Clean Your Kitchen
It’s nearly impossible to do this quantity of food prep in a messy kitchen. You need your dishes clean, put away, and your table and counters clear. You will mess it all back up but start with as much free space as possible. I do all this in a truly tiny kitchen and I MUST start tidy or there will simply be nowhere to put things down.
What I’m Making:
Ok, so those are the basic steps for planning out your freezer meal day. I am planning for all my meals today. I will go shopping this evening or tomorrow morning, then do my ingredient prep, then beef meals, followed by the chicken meals. I’m hoping to finish all the cooking this week, and then I’ll write you a post for each. Follow the blog so you don’t miss out! Let this list be a jumping off point for your own meals. Focus on planning well and managing cooking times. I’ll be updating you with my progress and mishaps over at The Remedial Homemaker Community Page on Facebook. Join us!
Ground Beef Meals: plain seasoned beef (to go in whatever I want later), taco beef, chili (it’s so good), and Italian pasta sauce.
There are no links for these because they’re my own recipes. I will share the basics on my next post, but you could simply make these items how your family prefers. Also, no, beef doesn’t get weird when reheated after being frozen. The trick is to be reheating more than re-cooking. Even my chili cooks long and the beef tastes great.
Chicken Breasts and Thigh Prep: white bean chicken chili, Tuscan chicken stew, chicken and lentil stew, chicken veggie soup base. The soup base is the main ingredients to adapt for several different meals. These recipes aren’t all converted to freezer meals in a pressure cooker but I am simply adapting them. They are simple and taste great!
Choose some meals, go through this planning process, and cook with me! Please don’t hesitate to ask questions in the comments or over at the group page.
May your aprons and Bibles both be well-worn,
The Remedial Homemaker
Ready Or Not, It’s Coming.
That’s right. September is coming. Back to school is happening in a few short weeks.
On my long list of things to get done before we return to our homeschool schedule, this is an item of grave importance:
Make Freezer Meals So You Don’t All Starve In September.
Yep, I wrote that down, and I meant it. As a Remedial Homemaker, I know that a shift in our routine throws my family for a loop and I’ll take a while to adjust. We are launching into a new phase of our homeschooling, and it will demand a lot of my attention and time. Every year, as we are readjusting to our school schedule, I find myself floundering in the kitchen. Regardless of your educational decisions, all families face this transition and I bet I’m not the only one finding myself at 4:45 thinking, “Uh…so, how is it that I can’t seem to remember that these people need food, like, every day??!”
Enter: The Magic of Freezer Meals
Look you food snobs, don’t quit scrolling because you think I’m talking about some nasty homogeneous casserole ok?? A point of fact: tator-tot casserole is actually pretty freaking delicious, so there. But, given that bit of food-snob-repellant information, I actually do try to make all my freezer meals as close to simple whole food as possible. There is no canned cream of things or cheese-like product in the freezer meals I choose and very few are casseroles. It’s not that I hate those things, it’s just that I know there will already be several nights I’ll be sending this text: “Husband I love and adore? Would you please bring home a pizza or…any food? It seems I’ve fractured my sanity and require assistance.” Amiright?? Since I know there will already be events and circumstances I can’t control, and some days will just get away from me, I try to ensure that the freezer meals I plan are minimally processed, and most are fairly lean…except the one I’m making today, which has pesto and bacon and pasta! It’s going to be delicious. Girls, sometimes you just gotta go for the comfort food.
Methods of Freezer Cooking:
There are three main ways people do freezer cooking: fully cooked meals, main ingredient prep, and recipe base prep. I do all of these with different foods. I feel so much better about my day when I can at least say I got a good meal done. These methods help me do so in a fraction of the time, with minimal effort. Today I am going to show you how to do a fully cooked freezer meal. I will post parts two and three as I prep those meals over the next few weeks.
Here’s the deal, I prefer to do one big day, kill myself off in the kitchen making 35 meals and putting them in the freezer, then crying, hating my sink, having sore feet, drinking wine, ordering take-out, and finally, not having to think about it for like three whole months. The day I do it is a pain, but afterward, the rewards are great. However, I don’t have time for that in the next couple of weeks so I need to start smaller. I call this method “Make Three Freeze Two”.
Today I will be making only one recipe, but I am making a triple batch and freezing two whole dinners which will feed my family of four for two dinners, and probably a lunch as well. That means I will get nine meals of food out of one cooking session. One set of dishes. One chopping session. One big mess. Nine meals. Then on the day’s I need them, all I have to do is pull one out of the freezer and pop it into the oven or Instant Pot. There will be no mess at all. It’s glorious.
Seriously you guys, remedial homemakers everywhere need to have an Instant Pot. I love mine so much I wanna marry it. I would cry if it broke. You will see more about why as I show you how I do the other forms of freezer cooking in parts two and three of this series. It has changed my kitchen experience and yes, I CAN cook. Of all the homemaker skills, cooking is my strong point. Some people assume if you use an Instant Pot frequently you must just be a mediocre cook. Gasp! I call bogus on that. Hooey. Big Fat Nopity Nope. Don’t pre-judge me man, my biscuits will make you weep for joy, and I’m sooo good at soups now. True story.
Little TMI marriage secret:
The two rooms my husband cares about most in his life are the kitchen and the bedroom. If I’m good in those two areas (ahem) he thinks I am a wildly irresistible success regardless of what the rest of the house looks like or what else got done that day. Pro Tip: Find out what makes your husband feel like he has an amazing wife and just lean into those areas. In the vast majority of cases, his list for you will be shorter than yours. Way shorter. Kitchen? Bedroom? Those make me a winner for my man, the rest is a bonus.
Fully Cooked Meal Prep
This Baked Chicken Pesto Alfredo is my meal for the day. I stocked up on chicken breast when it was on sale recently and just froze the whole packages. I defrosted one whole package for today and it’s about four and a half pounds.
First, cook the chicken. I will use this method of making shredded chicken in the Instant Pot. It’s easy and fast and won’t require me to stand over my grill or heat up my house. You can cook the chicken any way you want. Or, go get two rotisserie chickens, debone them, and use that instead. Easy Peasy.
As your chicken is cooking, bake a whole pound or two of bacon in your oven, or do this a couple days before like I did. 400 degrees, foil lined baking sheet, bake for 15-18 minutes. Frying bacon is a pain in the butt. It’s greasy, takes time, and then there’s always more left in the fridge to use up if you only needed a couple pieces. From now on, just make a sheet tray or two in your oven, use what you need, and freeze the rest. Then, whenever you need some bacon for
happiness a recipe, it’s already made. Just reheat it in a pan, or saute it with your aromatics and enjoy.
While the bacon and chicken are cooking, make your pasta in a big pot and cook it slightly underdone. It will cook more in the oven. If you normally cook it for nine minutes, try six or seven.
After the chicken is done, shred it or cut it up, crumble your bacon, and drain your pasta. Mix all the rest of your ingredients in a big mixing bowl or even a clean dish pan if you need more room to stir. Portion it into a 9×13 pan for today, and two disposable foil baking pans (or plastic freezer bags) for later.
EDITED: This recipe tripled actually easily made FOUR pans of pasta! Bonus points! So make sure you have three disposable baking pans or plastic freezer bags.
Top with parmesan, panko bread crumbs seasoned with Italian seasoning, and a little bacon and then bake the one you are eating today. For the other two trays, cool them, cover with foil, label and write out the baking instructions (on the recipe I linked).
Now all you have to do is add a side salad or vegetable and tonight’s dinner is done and probably tomorrow’s too. Also, you know you have three more meals waiting on a busy day, or for hospitality. When my freezer already has prepared meals in it, I am much more likely to be able to bring dinner to that discouraged friend, that new mom, the family in need of blessing etc.
So, that’s the basics of fully cooked meal prep. Plan a meal around your protein, pick some meals you like, and just make a lot at once. It doesn’t hardly take any more time or electricity to make three times the amount. This is a super efficient way of making dinner that saves you time and is a real life saver for busy days and opportunities to image God’s heart for families by serving others. Think through your recipes and see what you can double or triple to save time.
What else could you save shredded chicken for? I save it in small portions for quick additions to salads, tacos, or a chicken veggie frittata. Ooh, I almost forgot that I also save it for barbeque chicken over instant pot sweet potatoes. Ehrmergherd you guys, that’s so yummy. You can follow that link for oven directions as well.
The only other meal I make and freeze fully cooked is enchiladas, and I will discuss how I do those in Part Two: Main Ingredient Freezer Cooking. Go ahead and click “Follow” on the menu bar to the right so you don’t miss it.
Come join us on The Remedial Homemaker Community Page on facebook so we can share more ideas with you!
May your aprons and Bibles both be well-worn,
The Remedial Homemaker
P.S. Raw potatoes and mushrooms don’t freeze well. They get weird. Your welcome.
I feel cheated.
Most of my life, my culture has screamed at me that to be “barefoot, pregnant, and in the kitchen” was the lowest, most scornful aim for a modern woman–and if a man were to want me there, well, he must be an abusive, pitiably stupid, Neanderthal.
To be fair, I know resistance to this idea stems from beliefs that women are less valuable than men, or that they are only capable of domesticity–absurdly false ideas–but that doesn’t mean “barefoot and in the kitchen” is a bad place to be. It doesn’t mean it’s offensive for a husband to want his wife to embrace the kitchen as the soul of the home, the epicenter of relationship and nourishment, to use her gifts to turn the family table into a joy and refuge from a harsh and demanding day.
I get to try.
I stopped just now to think about how AWESOME it is that I get to wake, drink my coffee, read to my daughter in her pajamas, read and study in the areas of my choosing (which are varied and ever challenging), then put out cut melon and home made bread for my daughters. They are eating and chattering right now, 6 feet from me. I get to work in my house barefoot if I like and try to make sure we have a family meal tonight. I get to work hard to provide a truly personal and rigorous education for my girls, for which my intellect is certainly demanded, and my creativity challenged. I get to to grow our own food. I get to try to provide a haven here that makes home our favorite place to be so our family can thrive. I’m still fumbling through how to do this and I blow it so often (for reals), but by God’s grace, I am growing. I’m finally figuring a few things out about how to do this better.
Is my husband sexist?
My hard-working-not-a-caveman-husband wants me here in my garden, in my books, in lessons with my girls, available to rest with him in the evenings with the day’s work concluded, and yes, (whispers) in the kitchen! He’s a good man, not a sexist pig. He’s allowed to like pie and to feel really loved when I care for our family and home.
I don’t really care what’s politically correct to say on the matter in this cultural climate; I have never met a man who wouldn’t love to frequently come home from working hard to a happy wife and a home cooked meal. I haven’t met any children who wouldn’t be blessed by the thought that a parent loves them enough to nourish them with love and time and presence.
Embarrassed to actually like it?
Also, I think many more women would feel free to embrace the joy of home life if we weren’t constantly seeing so many false narratives about the value of the home, of family, and children. The post-modern mind has little vision for the amazingly high value of women using their gifts and talents for their own lives and families. I know many of you can attest to the social risk and almost embarrassment of actually saying, “I love to be a stay-at-home mom and serve my family. It brings me such joy even though I’m not very good at it yet.” Why should we have to feel bad about that?
Using all my same education, skill, time, and talent for a corporation so I can get a paycheck wouldn’t be more fulfilling, or carry more significance than using those things to raise up the next generation, and empower my husband to provide for us, here in my own little house. More money, yes, but more money isn’t the same as more happiness. My house is little, as is my budget, in order to ensure that I can be home for our family–and after my years transitioning out of a career, struggling, and looking everywhere but home to fill my need to feel like my life matters, I can emphatically say: it’s so worth it.
What about you?
Some of you are young women, new mothers, or newlyweds–let me encourage you that the home, hearth, and kitchen are great places to be! Home is a great place to thrive, to grow, to be creative, to learn, to impact your community. Don’t let the culture lie to you. Desiring and preparing to be a wife and mother at home is to desire a high and happy calling. It will limit your freedom to rule your time and resources, we can be honest about that, but it will also multiply your happiness. Resist the temptation to be scared of it, on one hand, or scornful of it on the other. Know that it’s ok to long for, pray for, and prepare for domestic life as you serve the Lord with all your heart soul and strength right where you are. Home is significant and wonderful and I want you to hear that. It’s more accepted to complain about home-life than to express happiness in it. Home is a beautiful, fully valid lifestyle choice you can make without feeling like you’re throwing your life and education away.
Moms who stay home; we have to be careful how our words paint this lifestyle. My conviction about that is why I’m writing today. I joke about the hard stuff, and I’m honest about my struggles, but I too often am silent about the beautiful parts.
Homemaking is hard, no doubt about it,
but it’s also beautiful,
and we need to talk about that more, a lot more.
Some of you are moms who would have to sacrifice significantly to be home, or maybe you don’t know how you could be happy in it. Just hear me say that there may be a bigger vision for this homemaker life than you’ve been given before. Pray about it, that’s all I’m asking. That was me, and really it’s only the last few years that homemaking wasn’t just “the crap we have to do so that we can get back to our real life”. It’s not that anymore, praise God. I’m not a bored, backwoods, miserable domestic servant, I promise. I’ve learned more in the last seven years than I ever did in all my years of formal education and I’m happier now than ever.
We’ve thrown out the baby with the bathwater when it comes to traditional womanhood. Being a woman is wonderful, and it’s not the same as being a man, and that’s wonderful too. There’s such a variety of how we can embrace that in our lives, our careers, and our homes.
For those of you who want to come home but can’t, or whose husbands want you out earning, know that you have my respect because it’s hard to work out there, and still do all the things you do for your family. You have my love, and you have God’s grace to strengthen you in time of need. Hebrews 4:16.
Why the insult?
Finally, I know there are those who think “housewife” is an insult, have no desire to do it and can’t believe smart, capable women could choose this “oppression” voluntarily. I would ask that you reconsider the cultural narrative of the last 60 years and include us. Include us women who are educated and capable, and still choose to embrace home as our sphere of influence, and are experiencing growing fulfillment. I’m not saying you need to make this choice–it would be stupid to dictate this to all women–but I am saying that our experience proves that home isn’t antithetical to female thriving, nor are traditional gender roles in marriage, or children, even lots of them.
I am literally “barefoot in the kitchen” right now, AND IT’S AWESOME.
Women; you inspire me, encourage me, delight me, and teach me all the time. I am blessed to witness you moving towards God’s design for each of you, to see him working in your lives, and I hope I’ve lifted up your countenance today. You are blessed. Take your shoes off, cook something beautiful, and gratefully thrive!
Subscribe so you don’t miss anything, and join us over at The Remedial Homemaker Community page on facebook for more conversations!
May your aprons and Bibles both be well-worn,
The Remedial Homemaker
Diligence means more and does more than we’ve thought.
Friends, it’s safe to read this. I promise I’m not about to push you down and give you one more thing to feel bad about. Go ahead and shelf your gut reactions to diligence in the context of homemaking for a minute, and have a chat with me. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
I never thought I, the truly remedial homemaker, would talk about diligence other than to say, “I wish I was a more diligent homemaker”, but here I am because I had a lightbulb moment reading through Proverbs this week. Hang with me here. This is so good!
“The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, while the soul of the diligent is richly supplied.” Proverbs 13:4 ESV
This verse caught my attention because after a long week I found myself with a heart full of frustration and craving. I was behind in my homemaking and homeschool tasks. In typical remedial fashion, I had procrastinated on a large project for my homeschool community and saved all the prep for the week before the event. The training I led went really well, but the house had reverted, and I was tired, discouraged, and craving.
More. Better. New. Fancier. Clean. Quiet. Peace. Carbs. In that moment I wanted it all and my soul certainly did not feel “richly supplied”.
Does your soul feel “richly supplied” right now? The NASB even says, “the soul of the diligent grows fat”. The Bible paints this beautiful picture of the soul, in excess of provision, growing fat and happy. I want that. I don’t want the gnawing and unanswerable craving.
Do you notice what it doesn’t say? It doesn’t say, “The sluggard gets bad circumstances and therefore craves and gets nothing, and the diligent get great circumstances so they are richly supplied.”
Yes, in general, slothfulness leads to bad outcomes, and diligence tends to improve those outcomes greatly, but that’s not what this particular verse says, is it?
This verse is wisdom literature talking about how diligence and slothfulness themselves impact the soul, not merely how the outcomes of diligent or sluggardly behavior affect the soul.
That’s important. I believe this verse is saying diligence, in itself, blesses and satisfies the soul, while slothfulness in itself creates cravings unmet.
What is diligence?
If diligence in itself is good for my soul, if it can richly supply where there was once craving, then I want to know for sure what it is. As I studied, I found out I had been wrong about diligence. I thought it meant never sitting down, finishing everything you start, and never quitting or resting until the job is done. Exhausted? Stressed to the max? Caring for small children? Too bad. You’re not finished yet and diligent people never quit and are never satisfied till they’re finished with all. the. things. I thought diligent homemakers always have clean, pretty homes full of homemade organic antioxidants and children who don’t habitually leave their socks in random places like mine do. I thought diligent homemakers know why wood on an interior wall is called shiplap and don’t have old siding or parties in the rain with only half a driveway.
Turns out diligence isn’t really these things.
In its Latin form, diligence means “to love earnestly, to choose”. Isn’t that surprising? The etymology of the word is “To love, through attentiveness, to carefulness, to steady effort.” It is the choice to apply steady effort of mind or body without undue delay or sloth with love in aim.
“Diligent” isn’t a synonym for successful. It isn’t an “A” written at the top of all your roles in life. Diligence is choosing to practice love through careful attention and steady effort to accomplish what’s undertaken.
It’s not the outcome, it’s the practice, and regardless of outward success each day, practicing diligence is good for our souls.
Imagine you won a huge lottery. If you decided to use your wealth solely to serve and entertain yourself, while all the work of life was done for you. Would your soul feel richly supplied? You could have a perfectly manicured, cleaned, and decorated house, but would you feel your soul beautifully fattening? I think this verse answers, “no”.
On the other hand, what if you apply steady attention and effort to a work that never seems to end? What if you are diligent but limitations or the demands of life simply make you unable to
ever always achieve outcomes which feel satisfyingly complete? What if you live in humble circumstances, without many trappings of bootstrap success? Can you experience a richly supplied soul in this case?
You know what? I think Proverbs 13:4 is saying you can.
When you shut down, neglect your duties and just set about entertaining yourself and feeding your senses to the exclusion of your duty, how does your soul feel? Does self-indulgence intensify craving or satisfaction in the end? I think we all know the answer to that.
Diligence, not success, is required for the rich supply of the soul.
Yes, you usually need diligence to experience success, but do you need success in order for diligence to benefit you? No. No, you don’t. Diligence is good for you regardless of the outcomes you are able to garner by its use.
Diligence satisfies. Slothfulness starves.
Isn’t that so interesting?!
I have always assumed I should be diligent so success will result and success will make me feel satisfied. Satisfaction after success, by means of diligence. But if it’s satisfaction by means of diligence, regardless of external success, then that’s a gift.
This could change a whole lot for mothers and homemakers. Does God call you to be successful or diligent? Finished or faithful? He never meant for us to believe happy, satisfied souls were only on the other side of success. He’s offering us fat, happy souls through the practice of godward diligence, not through perfect results.
Slothfulness starves my soul, not because I get bad results, but because my soul was designed to thrive and be richly supplied on humble diligence aimed at love.
So I’ve started a diligence experiment.
I want to see if godward diligence makes my heart into less of a craving factory. I want to see how diligence affects my soul. I realized I often make decisions about what I will do in my home based on what I can finish and be satisfied with. “Should I clean the kitchen? Weed the flower beds? No, I only have fifteen minutes, I can’t finish.” If diligence is good for my soul though, then fifteen minutes of careful attention and exertion toward love are still good for me, not just because it makes a cleaner kitchen or flower bed, but because diligence is good all by itself.
I’ve been telling myself diligence is good for my soul and then doing some, the some I can. It’s good. I am praying for diligence and asking God to teach me. So far, I’m pleased to say it’s helping.
What about you? What is your reaction to this different way of thinking about diligence? Could thinking of this as a soul-blessing practice help you? Would you like to experiment with me and see how your soul feels on godward diligence? Comment below or join the conversation at The Remedial Homemaker Community Page on Facebook. Don’t forget to subscribe so you don’t miss a post. I don’t post a lot. I try to really have something to say, and I would love to add you to the conversation.
May your aprons and bibles both be well-worn,
The Remedial Homemaker
Did you see the post over at scarymommmy this morning? The author is talking about her frustration and exhaustion at being “the only neat freak in a house full of slobs”. She’s tired of being the only one who cares about the house, jealous of her sister who gets to live with people who give a crap and pick up after themselves, and she cries at the mess after just one day of relaxing hyper-vigilance. We hear that, don’t we?
Can You Relate?
Even as a self-professed remedial homemaker I can relate to the frustration of no one in the house caring as much as I do that it looks nice. I get frustrated because I have a hard enough time keeping up after myself, let alone everyone else too. I have been jealous and self-pitying over other people’s tidy houses and families who seem to flit about loving order and aesthetic beauty. I have truly wrestled with the question of whether I should just be a hyper-vigilant scary mommy and make everyone pick up after themselves the way I want them to, which is miserable or to let it all go and live in chaos, which is also miserable.
How Do We Deal With That?
As Christian women, wanting to glorify God and image his heart for home, marriage, and family, what can help us as we leave the room, as the author did, and want to cry and yell at the mess? What do we do when we are so angry?
Friends, less than the truth won’t help us. So, listen in as I tell us both the truth with as much grace as I know how.
When we storm and rage through the house demanding everyone pick up and return the house to our standard,
When we cry over the dishes and hate the mundanity and futility of our life,
When we scrub while thinking through all the things we’d like to say to them for being inconsiderate slob jerks,
When we throw our hands up in disgust and give up,
When we refuse to pick up anyone else’s mess,
When we do these things we err. We are making a mistake. We sin. There, I said it.
Don’t misunderstand me. I don’t point out sin to push myself or anyone else down. I’m not trying to hurt or offend you. Think of it more like a road sign like,”falling rock”, “bridge out”. It’s not to make you feel bad, it’s to point us in a different direction, one that is less miserable for you and all the people you live with.
What’s Wrong With Being Pissed Off About My House?
Very simply, it’s all focused on “self”. Me. What I want. What I feel. What I need. What makes me stressed. What I think I deserve. What I don’t have. My own standard. My way. Me. It’s awash in comparison and criticism.
Is it wrong to want to live in a reasonably tidy house? No.
Is it wrong to want your family to express courtesy by not leaving a trail of dishes, clothes, and clutter behind them for you to pick up? No.
Is it wrong to be tired and struggle with the mundane? I don’t think so.
Those desires aren’t wrong, but our reaction to them sometimes is, and it only makes us either indignant and self-righteous, or depressed, offended, and sad.
Our homemaking doesn’t exist to make us feel better, compare better, or feed our need for control. It really doesn’t.
For the Christian woman, our motive for all we do in our homes needs to be
to image God’s heart toward home, marriage, and family,
for the praise of His goodness, and the advancement of His kingdom.
It’s not about you.
Or me. It’s about glorifying him in all we do. We are created to nurture life, and to provide life-changing help in our marriages and families. We are created to serve others in grace, while still teaching and training them up to be a blessing where they live. We can’t show his way to be good while we rage, and slam, and pout, and go on strike.
The culture is telling you such self-sacrifice is ugly, misogynistic, and oppressive. Is it though? Look in the Garden of Gethsemane. Look at Jesus, always willing to be interrupted to serve. Look at him exhausted by needs, still welcoming children, the downtrodden, the sinner and slovenly. He is the most beautiful, attractive, desirable, heroic being that exists. We love him because he first loved us. He was, and is, willing to stoop down and wash our rebellious feet, to clean up other people’s messes. Our messes. He is not above the work of the home, and neither are we. His way is the way to life and when we practice it, we become more free, not less. It’s counter-intuitive and utterly true.
The gospel points to a better way, a way where your soul can rest as you live with other sinners just like yourself. When you see the beauty of the Savior, how he cleaned up the mess of your sin and failure, it’s easier to leave the room, see the mess after it was just clean, and still pick up someone else’s sock. It’s easier to see the souls of the people you love and serve them, instead of just seeing the work they make for you.
I praise God to the bottom of my soul, because I now know, that because of incredible, beautiful Jesus, God doesn’t look at me and see the mess I created for him. He delights to do me good because he has saved me and I am his.
I want to be like him, love like him, serve like him, and value people like he does.
Yes, help your family form habits that make your home run smoother, give a lot of energy to this, but love them well while you do it. Find a way to serve them in humility and grace. Yes, accept that you will have to clean up other people’s messes sometimes. It will be inconvenient and difficult, and you’ll be tempted to make it about you. Bring them alongside, look into their faces, speak in patient tones, and repent when you lash out at them, even in your heart.
You’ll Have More Joy If You Fight To Serve Well
It’s not a to-do list. It’s a posture. It’s humility and contented gratitude. You can’t earn what Jesus did for you. It’s a free gift if you’re willing to open your heart to it. Resist the urge to follow culture and believe you deserve for everyone to do what it takes to make you happy at home. The answer isn’t in other people. Help them grow and learn and develop good habits, but serve them and love them while you do. It will be really hard sometimes, sanctification often is, but know that He who began a good work in you will complete it, and press in.
Your house is full of souls. They matter infinitely more than messes.
May your aprons and bibles both be well-worn,
The Remedial Homemaker
Yes, I emptied my dishwasher this morning. Wahoo! I’m practicing my current habit and it’s helping.
Want to know something super embarrassing? It seriously only takes five minutes to empty a dishwasher in a tidy kitchen. I didn’t know that before consistently practicing this habit.
How Is That Possible?
How could I possibly not know how long it takes to empty a dishwasher? Simple. If I’m often “doing the dishes” when there two or three days worth and I unload as part of “doing the dishes”, then I never experience what it’s like to be caught up and have unloading the dishwasher be a separate task comprised of a mere day’s worth of dishes.
I assumed unloading the dishwasher took longer than it really does because the way I did it actually takes me waaaaayyyy longer.
Am I just that dumb?
Look, maybe I’m preaching to the choir here and you’re looking at your phone with pity for the poor schmuck who doesn’t know how long it takes to unload the dishwasher. If that’s you, I’m happy for you. Really. No sarcasm. I’m glad you have dishes under control at your house.
I have prioritized other areas in my life, and homemaking tasks seemed of little importance compared to the other things I was spending my energy and passion on. I didn’t know how important home is to God. I didn’t know how crucial home is to Christian living. I didn’t know how valuable a homemaker is to God, how varied that role really is, or how high and lofty the goal of becoming a woman who “looks well to the ways of her household” would turn out to be. I believed a lot of wrong things about the whole “Suzie Homemaker” thing, and in all the stereotypes, I missed the point entirely.
Starting As Simply As Possible
The immaterial aspects of homemaking come more naturally to me than the physical aspects. Managing my space is hard for me. This is why I started as simply as possible and I’m learning what makes a difference through practice and reflection.
Why make my bed? Isn’t that a waste of time?
Would a consistently clear table impact the atmosphere of my home?
How much do I have to do so I can stop feeling like I’m perpetually failing?
How can I overcome internal resistance to starting when I feel overwhelmed or only have five minutes to spare?
How can I focus on the right things as I tend my home, so I am not doing it at the expense of the people I’m called to love and serve here?
What about when I just can’t anymore?
These questions and their answers help ground me and point me in the right direction. They help me see the forest through the trees.
Are You Discouraged?
Some of you find managing your physical environment easier than the relational and spiritual aspects of being a homemaker. That’s why I talk about both. We can learn and grow in this area. And for those of you, who, like me, more often feel embarrassed and discouraged by your seeming inability to do what other people do naturally in their homes, hear this: If I can learn and improve, you can too. I’m being open about my remedial status on the whole wide internet so we can do it together. We are designed to learn the arts of home in community.
You Are Not the Wrong Kind of Woman
You don’t have to be “a natural”. I most certainly am not. Never have been. Never will be. But I’m growing, and you can practice with me.
You really can have more peace in your home and it doesn’t have to take over your life.
Practice doing your dishes at night and emptying them in the morning. Some is good. It really is. Pick practice over perfection. Take the time to pray and be grateful for your blessings. Take the time to remember your friends who need prayer. I promise you won’t wake up tomorrow and think, “You know, I really wish I hadn’t done the dishes last night. I’d be so much happier if I could just look at a sink of dirty plates, cups, and pots before I’ve even had my coffee.”
May your bibles and aprons both be well-worn,
The Remedial Homemaker