Crock Pot Stew

Carried-by-Grace-CoverLife gets crazy no matter how hard we try to keep everything under control. Most of the time, we’re able to cope and go with the flow of a disrupted day. But when a crisis invades, the daily routine disappears until the crisis is over. That’s why I enjoy Crock Pot meals. I can dump in everything and forget it until it’s time for supper — the hour in a chaotic day when I’m at my lowest. My favorite meal is V-8 Stew, a recipe I got from my sister-in-law, and then adjusted for my own taste.

Below is an excerpt from my book, Carried by Grace, that shares the strategy I’ve developed over the years to help me keep a healthy diet even in times of crisis.

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All the extra appointments I had each month demanded my physical and emotional energy. When I came home, I often didn’t want to face cooking a meal. Turning to fast food, or processed, instant boxed meals appealed to my tired body — and brain. I’m not a health-food enthusiast, but I do what I can to avoid meals straight from a box or can. These instant meals are high in sodium, preservatives, and other chemicals (and calories). Plus they are more expensive than buying the ingredients separately. When your income gets cut in half like ours did, you save dollars everywhere you can. With a bit of planning, you can avoid the fast and instant food. Meal ideas:

•  Plan two weeks (or even a month) of supper at a time. Write it on the calendar and make your grocery list accordingly. Just having it written down will free up some brain cells and chase away the frustration of “What am I going to fix for dinner tonight?”. And you won’t be making last minute trips to the grocery store because you decided at 4:30 to have reuben sandwiches for dinner, but didn’t have any swiss cheese.
•  Invest in a Crock Pot if you do not already own one. They save time, energy, and added heat on those hot summer days. Toss your supper into the pot before the kids are up. Then it’s done and off your mind (until the delicious aromas entice you), and you won’t have hungry kids clamoring while you’re trying to cook.
•  When preparing supper, make a double portion. Freeze half to pull out on a busy day that catches you by surprise.
•  Spend a Saturday cooking some of your favorite meals and putting them directly into the freezer. Search “once a month cooking” for sites that offer recipes and ideas for bulk meal plans and preparations. Make this a fun family activity by letting the kids get involved. Allow the kids to do age-appropriate tasks and choose some of the dishes and desserts you make.
•  Use the many websites that offer free recipes. They add variety, ease, and value to your meals. If you’re a Pinterest user, you already know of the abundance of recipes listed there.
•  If friends notice you are going through a difficult time and ask what they can do to help, ask if they’ll prepare a meal. Many of us find it hard to ask for help. Take a deep breath, and remember friends ask because they care and want to help. Smile and say something like, “Thank you so much. Could you prepare a meal I can put in the freezer for next week?”

Here is a recipe to get you started.

V-8 Stew (Deb’s version)

1 lb. Lean stew meat

3-4 medium russet potatoes, chopped

3-4 large carrots, pealed and chopped in 2 inch pieces

1/2 to 1 cup of chopped celery

1/2 of large onion, chopped

1 can cream of chicken soup

Directions: Place all items in the Crock Pot and cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 4.

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Butterfield MainDebra L. Butterfield dreamed of being writer since she was a pre-teen. She didn’t pursue her dream until she was forty-five years old and began as a junior copywriter with Focus on the Family. Her book Carried by Grace was released by CrossRiver Media in 2015. Her magazine credits include CBN.com, Susie, Live, The Vision, and On Course online. She is a U.S. Marine Corps veteran, enjoys the outdoors, reading, and crochet work. Debra has three adult children and two grandchildren whom she doesn’t see often enough. Oddly enough, she likes the smell of skunks.

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