Category: Family Finances

Jul 27 2015

Recipes - Crockpot Hamburger - Cooked Hamburger - Ground Hamburger  - Recipes P1480769c

Crockpot full of fresh ground beef

My favorite way to save time with cooking is to do some of the time consuming and messier tasks all at one time.  One of the ways you can do this is by cooking up your ground beef in advance and freezing it in measured out portions.  When you need cooked beef for a recipe you pull it out, thaw it a little bit, and you are ready for the next step.  I started doing this several years ago and just this one activity saves our entire family a lot of time throughout the month.

Once we are down to our last bag or two of cooked ground beef in the freezer it’s time to do another big batch a crockpot ground beef.  I can fit several pounds of ground beef into our crockpot at one time.  One crockpot of cooked ground beef will usually last our family at least a month or more (it has lasted up to 3 months for us on more than 1 occasion).  Typically we have about one ground beef based meal per week whether on the week days or weekend.  My husband was a little skeptical about this at first, but after a few months he has come to enjoy being able to pull out a bag of cooked ground beef and proceed forward to the next step of cooking the meal.

This works really well if you want to cook up a larger batch of ground beef at one time.  It would not be as useful if you are wanting to cook 1 pound of ground beef for a meal later that day (doable, yes, just not as efficient).   I always try to keep an eye out for ground beef deals whenever I am at the grocery store.  If I find a good deal I stick it in the deep freezer and when it is time to cook up the next big batch of ground beef I always have plenty to fill up the crockpot.  This helps you save money in the long run too because you don’t have to pay full price for ground beef (which has gone way up in the last couple of years).  It is a good idea to be home while the ground beef is in the crockpot because it typically only takes 3 to 5 hours and you want to break up the ground beef throughout the cooking process.

By doing this you make the mess of cooking ground beef once a month (or every couple months) and your done.   No more weekly cooking of your ground beef will also save you more time and clean up mess than you realize!  Seriously!!!  This especially works well if you have an upcoming busy season that you want to prepare for or having a baby soon or summer break or just trying to utilize your time more efficiently.

Cooking Ground Beef Using a Crockpot Recipe:

  • Several Pounds of Ground Beef (I usually do between 5 to 10 pounds at a time).  You can use traditional beef, grass fed beef, or whatever combination you want.  You can also use whatever percentage of fat you want as well.  Although, the fattier the meat the less actual meat you will have at the end because the fat will be drained off.  We like to buy 93% lean or higher, but at times we do pick up a lower one if it is at a great price (we always stick to 85% or higher).

1.  Fill your crockpot up to the top with ground beef (every crockpot holds a different amount, but try to fit in as much as possible).  I have put in frozen ground beef (pulled directly from the freezer) as well as thawed ground beef (either way will work fine), but you will be able to fit more of the thawed ground beef into your crockpot therefore creating more meals out of your finished product.

2.  Put your crockpot on the low heat setting and cook for 3 to 5 hours.  The time will vary depending on how much meat you put into your crockpot and whether or not it was thawed or frozen.   Place the lid on the crockpot and let it cook for an hour.

3.  After the first hour of cooking add your spices (whatever you typically use to season your ground beef).  We like to keep it simple by adding minced onions and Grill Mates Montreal Steak Seasoning Other good seasonings that compliment the ground beef are salt, pepper, garlic seasoning, etc…  After adding the seasonings take a straight edged spatula or wooden spoon and break up the meat so it starts forming the ground beef crumbles.  Place the lid back on the crockpot and allow it to cook for another hour.

4.  After the 2nd hour remove the lid and break up the meat again.  This will help it form the nice uniform ground beef crumbles that work well in recipes.  If you do not stir it regularly than the ground beef will form larger clumps of meat which do not work as well in many of the recipes that call for ground beef.  You can still break up the larger clumps at the end, but it will take longer and they will not be as evenly seasoned or as uniform.

5.  Repeat step #4 every additional hour until your ground beef is cooked thoroughly.  You should have a nice brown color and your meat crumbled into fairly even size pieces.

6.  Once the hamburger is cooked turn off the crockpot.  Place a small holed strainer on top of a large metal bowl and pour your cooked ground beef into the strainer.  The strainer will keep your cooked meat in it while the oils will drain into the large bowl underneath.  Allow the hamburger to drain for 10 minutes.  Blot with a paper towel to get rid of any access fat.

7.  Allow the meat to cool completely.  Once it is cool divide the meat up into individual bags or containers by measuring out 2 cups of meat per container (this is approximately 1 pound of ground beef per bag or container).  If you get to the end and you don’t have enough for an additional 2 cups divide the remaining meat equally between the individual containers already fill.  Typically, I have between 2 to 2 1/2 cups of cooked meat per bag or container.  Every time you have a recipe that calls for 1 pound of hamburger all you have to do is pull out 1 of these bags or containers and use it.  Each one of these is used in a family meal.     If you have 6 bags or containers this should get you through your next 6 meals that use cooked ground hamburger.  Say you do 1 meal like this a week this should last you 6 weeks before you have to cook ground hamburger again!

This allows you to pull the meat out prior to dinner, make your meal, and eliminates a lot of time and mess.  Which means you can spend more time with your family or doing something you enjoy!

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Cooke ground beef is now ready to be drained and divided up into individual bags for later consumption.

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Jun 23 2015

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Isle of Palms Beach

Our family enjoys going to the Isle of Palms Beach while we are in the Charleston, SC area.  We don’t always get a chance to go to the beach, but when we do go we typically go to the Isle of Palms.  It is a big beach, has public parking, restrooms nearby, a life guard near the entrance, and outside showers to rinse off the sand before heading back to the vehicle.  Even with the showers somehow we always manage to bring home some sand with us, but we are getting better.

You can usually find a good spot to set up your tent, umbrella, or place your cooler.  There is a lot of good sand for digging sand castles.  You can usually find some nice sea shells.  Plus there are usually some nice waves to enjoy a refreshing swim in the Atlantic Ocean.   It has always been a really clean beach too.  We have been to a couple of the other beaches in the area, but since we are usually on the Isle of Palms side of Charleston and we enjoy going there we usually end up at this beach.  If you are looking for a good, family friendly beach this is a great place to go.

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Scampering quickly out of our way along the sand.

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Waves are rolling in nice.  Great day to go swimming.

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Relaxing at Isle of Palms

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Nice beach and pretty beach houses. There are a variety of stores and restaurants to go to while at Isle of Palms.

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Waves continue rolling in peacefully as the day ends.

The “Travel and Vacation” series is an insight into our trips together as a family and ways we relax.  Life is short and we were thrilled to have the opportunity to build memories with family and explore of of the most amazing places during our time away.  Explore with a good attitude, look for fun, and it will be an awesome trip jammed packed with positive memories.  It is refreshing having some time away from the regular routine.  Make it a once in a lifetime opportunity to meet new people and learn.  You just might see or try something new that takes your breath away!

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Jun 22 2015

Last week Jake’s sister family spent the week with us.  The week went by quickly and we packed in a lot of activities during their stay.  It was fun spending some extra time and catching up with them as well as the rest of the family in the area the last few days.  On Friday the girls went to church camp for the weekend.  The house was really quiet after everyone left!  We celebrated Father’s Day last weekend since the girls were away at camp for a good part of Father’s Day.  Jake was super sweet and helped get our large pile of laundry started while the girls were away.  He also made the most amazing apricot and salmon recipe that I will be sharing in a few days.  Here are my goals for this week:

Last week’s goals

Family Goals

  1. Finish reading Romona and Her Mother by Beverly Cleary book to the kids
  2. Plan one special activity with the familywent to Otters Creek Water Park with Mirm’s family
  3. Play a Game with the Familyplayed several this week
  4. Prepare for Upcoming Spring EventsSpring is done and now we are enjoying summer
  5. Spend time working on Summer Workbooks
  6. Attend Evening Activities & Events
  7. Spend Extra Time with Extended Family
  8. Lunch Bags Packed for Work & Errand / Outside Activities
  9. Prep for upcoming Family Adventure(s)
  10. Prep & Figure out Schedule for Summer Break – wrapping up some later details
  11. Ride Bikes with the Kids
  12. Work on special projects with the kids
  13. Hang out at a park with Kids
  14. Go to the Library
  15. Find a new local place to visit or new activity to do with the Kids – we went to places we already visited before
  16. Attend an extra-curricular activity or event
  17. Get kids packed and sent off to Church Camp
  18. Celebrate Father’s Day

Personal Goals

  1. Drink 8 glasses of water each day
  2. Continue my YouVersion plan(s) – running a little behind
  3. Keep up with my FitBit Goals
  4. Go to my  Doctor Appointments Scheduled this week
  5. Update Counting My Blessings and Other journal entries daily

Home (Yard & Pets) Management Goals

  1. All laundry for the week washed, folded, and put away in one day
  2. Weekly Dinner Menu planned out for the week
  3. Clean House (Focus – Vacuum & Dust)
  4. Organize Chaos (Focus – Refrigerator)
  5. Yard / Garage Cleanup (Focus – Treehouse Fort) – working on it
  6. Pet Care (Focus – Treat Yard for Mosquitoes / Flies)
  7. Repairs – (Focus – Girls Necklace Hangers) – hoping to get it done soon

Business Goals

  1. Work on ideas for upcoming blog posts
  2. Respond to Inquiry – Business Relation Emails
  3. Keep up with the day to day items that need my attention
  4. Work completed for clients – another project to be done soon
  5. Research and pursue career goals
  6. Prep, plan, and organize content for upcoming summer months while the kids are out of school

Ministry Goals

  1. Meet a friend or family member for Breakfast or Lunch

Financial Goals

  1. Payoff the Car – working on it
  2. Payoff Medical Bills – paid more on a couple this week
  3. Payoff Other Outstanding Debt – (replacement microwave, refrigerator, hot water heater, bed, HVAC unit, and other debt) – working on it
  4. Pay Bills & File Paperwork
  5. Go grocery shopping one time to one store this week and stay within budget – went over budget with the grocery budget

My goals for the upcoming week

Family Goals

  1. Finish reading Lightening’s Last Hope by Joanna Campbell book to the kids
  2. Plan one special activity with the family
  3. Play a Game with the Family
  4. Spend time working on Summer Workbooks
  5. Attend Evening Activities & Events
  6. Lunch Bags Packed for Work & Errand / Outside Activities
  7. Prep for upcoming Family Adventure(s)
  8. Prep & Figure out Schedule for Summer Break
  9. Ride Bikes with the Kids
  10. Work on special projects with the kids
  11. Hang out at a park with Kids
  12. Go to the Library
  13. Find a new local place to visit or new activity to do with the Kids
  14. Attend an extra-curricular activity or event
  15. Pick up Summer Clothes for the girls (Swim suit, shorts, sandals, pjs)

Personal Goals

  1. Drink 8 glasses of water each day
  2. Continue my YouVersion plan(s)
  3. Keep up with my FitBit Goals
  4. Go to my  Doctor Appointments Scheduled this week
  5. Update Counting My Blessings and Other journal entries daily

Home (Yard & Pets) Management Goals

  1. All laundry for the week washed, folded, and put away in one day
  2. Weekly Dinner Menu planned out for the week
  3. Clean House (Focus – Post Items to Sale and Take Items to Donate)
  4. Organize Chaos (Focus – Girls Scrapbooks)
  5. Yard / Garage Cleanup (Focus – Seed Goat Pen)
  6. Pet Care (Focus – New Collar for Snowball, Hay, & Mineral Bucket)
  7. Repairs – (Focus – Girls Necklace Hangers)

Business Goals

  1. Work on ideas for upcoming blog posts
  2. Respond to Inquiry – Business Relation Emails
  3. Keep up with the day to day items that need my attention
  4. Work completed for clients
  5. Research and Plan Out Business Goals
  6. Prep, plan, and organize content for upcoming summer months while the kids are out of school

Ministry Goals

  1. Meet a friend or family member for Breakfast or Lunch

Financial Goals

  1. Payoff the Car
  2. Payoff Medical Bills
  3. Payoff Other Outstanding Debt – (replacement microwave, refrigerator, hot water heater, bed, HVAC unit, and other debt)
  4. Pay Bills & File Paperwork
  5. Go grocery shopping one time to one store this week and stay within budget

I think it is important to share and encourage each other as we seek to improve our lives and the lives of those around us.  I want to live intentionally not just hope all my dreams and goals come true.  When I focus on small steps of improvement I am able to see results as I get closer to my goals.  Some weeks I get closer to the goals I have in my life and other weeks a take a few steps back (life happens, emergencies occur, people get sick).  Once the goals are written down and shared it provides a guideline for what I aim to accomplish this week.

Why Share My Goals?

  • To keep me accountable
  • To share a piece of my life with you as I strive to be a better Child of God, Wife, Mom, Friend, Homemaker, Entrepreneur and the many other roles I have each week
  • To have my goals consistently written down so I can gauge progress more accurately
  • Create healthy habits in my life
  • To encourage you to share your goals with me as you continue to grown and learn

How did you do this week on your goals?  Feel free to share or link to your list of weekly goals.

The picture above is one that I created for my own purposes, however, The “SMART” acronym was originally coined 30 years ago by Peter Drucker in his classic work, Management by Results.

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Jun 15 2015

http://www.blessingsmultiplied.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/4088699532_ae44f04b7dc.jpg

Thankful for the extra time this week with the kids and extended family.  Jake’s sister and her family will be with us this week.   We also get a chance to catch up with his cousins in this the area as everyone gets together.  The week will be full of fun with everyone around.  Hoping that we have great memories with all the family members.  I am keeping the menu simple and most of the normal days are switched around as it will be a busy and different week for us.  They will be arriving on Monday.  Here is our menu plan for the upcoming week:

Our Weekly Menu Plan

  • Monday (Beef or Pork Entree): Special Event
  • Tuesday (Kid’s Night to Cook):  Crockpot Roast, Steamed Vegetables
  • Wednesday (Chicken or Vegetarian Entree): Honey Baked Ham, Mashed Potatoes
  • Thursday (Pasta or Seafood Entree): Walking Tacos, Fresh Salad
  • Friday, Saturday, & Sunday:  Leftovers, Family Preference, and Hosting

I have a general pattern I try to follow for my weekly Menu Plan (for example Monday we have a beef or seafood entree and so forth).  It is my goal, at least in the beginning, to have at least the main dish and one side planned.  I will put together the remaining side dishes (veggies / fruits) based on the food items that need to be used up first and compliment the main entree.

Setting a weekly menu plan helps me utilize my time better, thus freeing up extra time to spend with my family.  On the days that I am working longer hours I can prep the meal in advance so it will be easier to pull together once I am home.  As I go through the menu planning process I will try to share some of our favorite family recipes.  If there is a specific recipe you would like please let me know and I will do my best to accommodate (some recipes are a toss together meal and I do not use any set measurements).

As a family of four our life can get busy.  What’s for Dinner is our weekly menu planning series and one of the ways to help keep us organized, on schedule, and within budget.  Our family typically eats 6 to 7  dinner meals at home a week.  We do try to go out to eat at least once a month as a special treat.  Breakfasts are eaten at home before work and school, lunches are eaten at work, school, or home, so dinner is our main meal together as a family.  Dinner is our time to reconnect, share, and enjoy being together after a busy day.  Our weekly menu plan covers Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday only because the weekend (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday) is our time to spend with family and friends.  The weekends tend to be more spontaneous and my husband (who is the better cook) likes pitching in therefore we keep the menu open for variety.  We use up the leftovers throughout the week for our lunches and on the nights that we are busy or can’t cook.

Photo by Liz

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Jun 15 2015

Last week was super fun with the girls home now on summer break. We packed in a lot of neat activities and got some projects done this week too.  The girls have been consistent on working on their summer workbooks and reading.  Thankful for extra time with the kids and a chance to do some exciting events together.  Jake has been busy with work and working on a big project for the girls in his free time at home.  He is such a great Daddy to his girls and comes up with neat activities for them from robotics to building items together and more!  This week Jake’s sister and her family are visiting us in South Carolina so the week will be a little different as we focus on spending time with them.  Here are my goals for this week:

Last week’s goals

Family Goals

  1. Finish reading School’s Out by Ken Brynildsen book to the kids (it’s an older book & couldn’t find it on Amazon) –
    finished it (the girls enjoyed the adventures in the book) and started on the next one that Karlie picked out
  2. Plan one special activity with the family
  3. Play a Game with the Familytaught the girls Hand & Foot, played Golf, and more
  4. Prepare for Upcoming Spring Events
  5. Spend time working on Summer Workbooks
  6. Attend Evening Activities & Events
  7. Lunch Bags Packed for Work & Errand / Outside Activitiespacked Jake’s work lunch and we had 2 days with picnic lunches when we were out and about
  8. Prep for upcoming Family Adventure(s)
  9. Prep & Figure out Schedule for Summer Break
  10. Ride Bikes with the Kids
  11. Work on special projects with the kids
  12. Hang out at a park with Kids
  13. Go to the Library
  14. Find a new local place to visit or new activity to do with the Kidswent to Frankie’s Fun Park and went to the Candy Land Game Activity at the library
  15. Attend an extra-curricular activity or eventwent to the Free Movies with the Kids
  16. Date Night with the Kids – I went with Karlie and Jake went with Brina

Personal Goals

  1. Drink 8 glasses of water each day
  2. Continue my YouVersion plan(s) – need to catch up
  3. Keep up with my FitBit Goals
  4. Go to my  Doctor Appointments Scheduled this week
  5. Update Counting My Blessings and Other journal entries daily

Home (Yard & Pets) Management Goals

  1. All laundry for the week washed, folded, and put away in one day the girls are getting faster
  2. Weekly Dinner Menu planned out for the week
  3. Clean House (Focus – 3 Bathrooms)
  4. Organize Chaos (Focus – Kids Rooms)
  5. Yard / Garage Cleanup (Focus – Mow)
  6. Pet Care (Focus – Mix Extra Vitamins in Goat Food)
  7. Repairs – (Focus – Girls Necklace Hangers)

Business Goals

  1. Work on ideas for upcoming blog posts
  2. Respond to Inquiry – Business Relation Emails
  3. Keep up with the day to day items that need my attention
  4. Work completed for clients
  5. Prep, plan, and organize content for upcoming summer months while the kids are out of school

Ministry Goals

  1. Meet a friend or family member for Breakfast or Lunch

Financial Goals

  1. Payoff the Car – working on it
  2. Payoff Medical Bills – working on it
  3. Payoff Other Outstanding Debt – (replacement microwave, refrigerator, hot water heater, bed, HVAC unit, and other debt) – working on it
  4. Pay Bills & File Paperwork
  5. Go grocery shopping one time to one store this week and stay within budget

My goals for the upcoming week

Family Goals

  1. Finish reading Romona and Her Mother by Beverly Cleary book to the kids
  2. Plan one special activity with the family
  3. Play a Game with the Family
  4. Prepare for Upcoming Spring Events
  5. Spend time working on Summer Workbooks
  6. Attend Evening Activities & Events
  7. Spend Extra Time with Extended Family
  8. Lunch Bags Packed for Work & Errand / Outside Activities
  9. Prep for upcoming Family Adventure(s)
  10. Prep & Figure out Schedule for Summer Break
  11. Ride Bikes with the Kids
  12. Work on special projects with the kids
  13. Hang out at a park with Kids
  14. Go to the Library
  15. Find a new local place to visit or new activity to do with the Kids
  16. Attend an extra-curricular activity or event
  17. Get kids packed and sent off to Church Camp
  18. Celebrate Father’s Day

Personal Goals

  1. Drink 8 glasses of water each day
  2. Continue my YouVersion plan(s)
  3. Keep up with my FitBit Goals
  4. Go to my  Doctor Appointments Scheduled this week
  5. Update Counting My Blessings and Other journal entries daily

Home (Yard & Pets) Management Goals

  1. All laundry for the week washed, folded, and put away in one day
  2. Weekly Dinner Menu planned out for the week
  3. Clean House (Focus – Vacuum & Dust)
  4. Organize Chaos (Focus – Refrigerator)
  5. Yard / Garage Cleanup (Focus – Treehouse Fort)
  6. Pet Care (Focus – Treat Yard for Mosquitoes / Flies)
  7. Repairs – (Focus – Girls Necklace Hangers)

Business Goals

  1. Work on ideas for upcoming blog posts
  2. Respond to Inquiry – Business Relation Emails
  3. Keep up with the day to day items that need my attention
  4. Work completed for clients
  5. Research and pursue career goals
  6. Prep, plan, and organize content for upcoming summer months while the kids are out of school

Ministry Goals

  1. Meet a friend or family member for Breakfast or Lunch

Financial Goals

  1. Payoff the Car
  2. Payoff Medical Bills
  3. Payoff Other Outstanding Debt – (replacement microwave, refrigerator, hot water heater, bed, HVAC unit, and other debt)
  4. Pay Bills & File Paperwork
  5. Go grocery shopping one time to one store this week and stay within budget

I think it is important to share and encourage each other as we seek to improve our lives and the lives of those around us.  I want to live intentionally not just hope all my dreams and goals come true.  When I focus on small steps of improvement I am able to see results as I get closer to my goals.  Some weeks I get closer to the goals I have in my life and other weeks a take a few steps back (life happens, emergencies occur, people get sick).  Once the goals are written down and shared it provides a guideline for what I aim to accomplish this week.

Why Share My Goals?

  • To keep me accountable
  • To share a piece of my life with you as I strive to be a better Child of God, Wife, Mom, Friend, Homemaker, Entrepreneur and the many other roles I have each week
  • To have my goals consistently written down so I can gauge progress more accurately
  • Create healthy habits in my life
  • To encourage you to share your goals with me as you continue to grown and learn

How did you do this week on your goals?  Feel free to share or link to your list of weekly goals.

The picture above is one that I created for my own purposes, however, The “SMART” acronym was originally coined 30 years ago by Peter Drucker in his classic work, Management by Results.

Share and Enjoy.

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  • Email
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