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As my chili is cooking on the stove, I am thankful. Thankful that I've learned to use my time wisely (well, kinda wisely....let's not even talk about my facebook problem or my addiction to reading blogs). See, ten minutes ago I was racking my brain as to what I'd feed hubby for lunch. He gets home from work in half an hour. The thought of running to Subway was appealing but then that defeats my desire to feed my family well. My lazy Saturday morning of reading didn't want to be disturbed with time spent in the kitchen. During the week I prepare and serve meals for my family and daycare kiddos. That's five breakfasts, five lunches, five dinners, and ten snacks (yes, those little ones are ALWAYS hungry), not to mention the loads and loads of dishes. I'm not whining, I'm only trying to create an excuse for the reason I don't care to spend any time in the kitchen during the weekends. But back to today's lunch.

At 10:45 I was thinking, "Oh shucks, I have 45 minutes until hubs is home! What am I going to make??" In denial of my time crunch I dismiss this thought and read a few more pages of "one thousand gifts" (excellent book by the way).

At 10:50 I am brought back to reality as I realize I can't put it off. If I do, I'll be likely to eat something that isn't on my 2012 "diet plan". Hmmm.....what do I have to work with? I go through the list of ingredients that I know are in the pantry and freezer. AH, CHILI!

At 10:55 I take out the beans and meat that I prepared AHEAD of time from the freezer (see below). Toss into the pan on the stove to heat while I run downstairs to my scary basement to grab a can of tomatoes which I canned last fall. Add tomatoes to the pot and add a few spoonfuls of Wildtree's "Leslie's Chili Blend" seasoning. Cover.

At 11:00 I blog while the chili is cooking. Hurray! Lunch will be ready! All because of a few steps that I took in the past month. If it had been any harder, my lazy Saturday mentality may have even suggested McDonald's <gasp> if I didn't have something easy to prepare. I'm thankful that our tiny town doesn't have a McDonald's.

I am thankful for my spooky basement stock. Tomatoes that I canned in the fall keep me out of the grocery store. I also find comfort in knowing exactly what is in my cans of tomatoes. No extra salt. No aluminum cans leaching whatever into my produce (can't speak more intelligently about this as I haven't done my thorough research on this topic. I just know that it doesn't sound good). The hours that I put into canning tomatoes last fall should keep me well stocked through the winter and will be used for pizza sauce, spaghetti sauce, salsa and chili. This is a blessing.

A month ago I bought a bag of dried kidney beans after reading the ingredients on canned kidney beans. Did you know they add sugar to canned kidney beans?? I didn't. I wrestled with the ease of canned over dried and finally chose the dried beans with the label that stated it contained only ONE ingredient, kidney beans. So instead of soaking only what I needed, I did up the whole bag. I soaked the beans overnight and cooked them the next day. I put some into that nights chili and separated the remaining into containers for the freezer. Today I am blessed with beans that are ready for the chili pot!

A couple of weeks ago I was making spaghetti sauce and decided to make a meat combo which included 1 lb. of venison, 1 lb. of Italian Sausage, and 1.5 lbs of ground beef. After browning the meat, I used what I needed in my spaghetti and the remaining meat was divided in containers for the freezer. Today I am blessed to have meat that is also ready for the chili pot!

Other than the canning, preparing the beans and meat ahead of time did not cost me extra time in the kitchen. And today I am so thankful that these little steps helped keep me out of the kitchen!

Ah, look at that! 11:25 Publish blog post, set the table, lunch is ready for hubs to come home!
I almost have time to shower.........

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