Friday, December 27, 2013

Once A Month Cooking--Christmas Cookie Style

My food posts are always the most popular!  A couple of weeks ago my cooking gals got together and made TONS of cookies and candies.  We each paid about $20 and we took home loads...So here you will find the grocery list, the recipes, and pictures.  

Grocery List:

Baking Supplies



Dairy, Eggs and Milk

Herbs and Spices

Snacks and Sweets

We added melting chocolate aka almond bark in both milk chocolate and white chocolate and pretzels to our list.



Sugar Cookies
Oatmeal Scotchies
Peanut Butter Fudge

Peppermint Bark    I change this to use the melting chocolate (white) instead of the chocolate chips....

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Glazed Pecans

Chocolate Covered Pretzels  Melting chocolate, dip pretzels in and then sprinkle with peppermint or sprinkles

Let me know how your cookies turn out!  

Friday, December 20, 2013

Tonight I went to Prison...

Well, tonight I entered a place that I never thought I would go.  PRISON.  Yep, you read that right.  I went in, took off my shoes, jacket, jewelry, etc.  I emptied my pockets and got waved over with a wand, patted down, and then went through the metal detecting machine.  And then, I got locked inside the big wire fence.  You are probably wondering why I would do this....I did not commit a crime.  I did this why...why...why would I go to prison.  Well, for my son.  My son did something really stupid this summer and landed himself in trouble.  One of the consequences of this trouble was that we had to attend a program called "From the horse's mouth."  It is a program where the kids who are in trouble and their parents go to a prison.  There are inmates there who talk to the kids.  They share their story and they make the kids tell them why they are there.  On the night we went, our two inmates were both convicted of murder.  My son sat next to one of them who had been in prison for 20 years.  I cannot tell you how hard it was to be there as a mom.  Who would ever imagine a scenario where a mother would voluntarily sit her child next to a murderer?  Well, I would do it again in a minute.  The man who spoke to the kids killed someone when he was fifteen--just two years older than Alex and exactly the age of Emma.  He had been in and out of juvenile detention many times.  He was convicted as an adult at 15 and put in the harshest prison in the state.  He described what that was like and showed the kids pictures of what the prison really looks like inside and all sorts of injuries--bites, stab wounds, cuts, beat up faces, etc.  I was impressed with this guy.  He was articulate and he didn't really sugar coat it.  But, during his time in prison, he has gotten his GED, an associates degree, and a bachelor's degree.   He has about 7 years left.  The other man, who also murdered someone, didn't have as much to say.  He did really tell the kids that prison was not somewhere they wanted to be.  Anyway, it was actually a really good program.  It was very intimidating for me as an adult and probably one of the most difficult things I have ever done, but it was also very interesting and thought provoking.  Currently, most kids that are on probation of involved with probation or court in Putnam County and Brazil.  They just started offering this for parents to take their kids on their own without it being required by court.  I highly recommend this program.  If you are a parent and your kid is giving you trouble or is getting out of control, this is a great wake up call.  If you don't live in Indiana, I would bet that there is a program like this somewhere near you.  You could call the local probation department or prison or State Police to find out more.  If you are in Indy and you want more info, send me a note and I will get you the info.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Patience of Job? Maybe not....

So, recently I have been reading and thinking about Job.  You know, the guy in the Bible.  He is the one who God said would remain faithful no matter what Satan did to him.  God let Satan take everything from Job...his money, his family, his reputation, everything.  Satan wanted him to curse God, but Job did not.  So people talk about having the patience of Job...putting the credit on Job...But, I think I have a different take on the whole situation.  Now, when we hear / read the story it tells how Job lost everything.  And it talks about how Job remained faithful to God.  And it talks about how Job got rewarded greatly for his faithfulness later in his life.  But, here's the thing.  I don't think it was Job...I mean, kind of it was...but really I think it was God.  I think God had made himself known to Job....REAL to Job.  I think God had spent time with Job and let him see who he really is.  And, the thing is that no matter what Satan took from Job or did to Job, he could not take that "realness" from him.  Maybe Satan himself did not even realize that.  So, then the next question comes---does God reveal himself to us today?  Does he show US his "realness"?  I believe that he does...but I also believe that many of us just miss it somehow....I am not sure why that is--if it is us or him.  I know that for me personally God has made himself very real.  I have seen miracles--not just one, but multiple times.  I have heard his voice--not actually a voice, but more like a thought in my head that is somehow different but very clear.  That has happened several times and each time it has been very clear, but very unusual.  Which leads me to my next thought....a few people have mentioned Job to me in recent months because of the various trials that I have been through.  They (trials) have come in waves and seem to be relentless.  I can kind of relate to Job....I get angry at times and weepy at times.  Other times I feel confused or scared.  But, through all of this stuff...I am not sure I have ever felt closer to God....It is difficult to explain or understand, but there is no doubt in my mind that he is real or that he is present.   There is no doubt in my mind that he loves me and my family.  I can feel his presence in the middle of all this and am often reminded of his blessings and care of me even during the drama.  I have no doubt that these troubles will end and I know that somehow all of this makes sense in his plan.  I know that he has good plans for me and for everyone who believes.  So, going back to Job....I am guessing he felt the same way.  But, I bet if you asked him what he thought of people saying they have the "patience of Job" he would say that they are putting too much emphasis and faith in him and not enough in God.  I bet he would say that God was so real to him that he never doubted him and that he knew somehow it would all make sense someday.  So, where are you in this walk?  Are you noticing all of the signs God is leaving for you?  Are you giving him the time and attention to let him reveal himself to you?  Are you open to the idea that he is real and is a God who absolutely adores you?  Ask him to open your eyes and mind to his presence.  I have no doubt that he will reveal himself to you and become so real that nothing can make you ever doubt his presence and love for you.

Saturday, July 13, 2013


Unfortunately, one of the parts of this life is that friends will betray us at times.  Obviously not all, but some.  It has happened to all of us from time to time.  I recently had this happen.  I had a very close friend...we had been best friends for a long time and we both know all of the ins and outs of each others lives.  We have shared very intimate details of our lives with each other.  Well, something happened and she shared some of those things with another person.  It should not have happened and it broke my heart....but it reminds me of a lesson I taught at church camp this past winter.  We should trust God even when people betray us.    That was the title of my lesson and the story was the tale of Judas.  I am guessing most of you know this story, but just in case you don't--here it is.  Judas was one of Jesus' disciples.  He was in Jesus' inner circle of friends and people he trusted.  Judas got jealous and greedy and decided to betray Jesus by handing him over to the Roman guard.  He took a few silver pieces in return for this.  He told the soldiers which one was Jesus by kissing him on the cheek, which was a sign of affection between two very close friends.  This was the ultimate betrayal.  Ultimately, it led to Jesus being crucified on the cross...but it also led to the gift of salvation being made available to all people.  So, here is the thing....Jesus knew that Judas would do this before he chose him to be a disciple....before he was born even.  He knew.  And, still he chose him.  He trusted him.   He shared with him and taught him.  He loved him.  Even though he knew how it would end...he still chose him.  And, Judas realized that he messed up shortly after it happened.  He actually ended up taking his own life.  Now here is the other crazy thing....What Judas should have done was repent and ask for forgiveness....his eternal future probably would have ended up differently.  But, he didn't.  I believe that Jesus would have forgiven him.  I believe Jesus used this betrayal for good.  So, even though it hurts deeply when we are betrayed, it is best to forgive and to love and trust people even though they might hurt us.  I plan to keep living that way.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Life's little detours....

A couple weeks ago I went on a trip and followed the directions given by the gps.  I figured it would get me where I needed to I was driving and the interstate that I was on turned into a regular road and then ended.  The GPS then put me on a long (very long) back country road that weaved around and around in the mountains with multiple one car bridges and little bitty roads.  At one point there were actually port-a-potties along the route and portable stop lights.  It was a little weird at times and seemed like we would be "lost" forever.  But, the GPS did eventually get us where we were going and guided us along the way.  It reminded me of life in a way.  So often, life comes at us and we end up on some path that seems random and does not make sense.  We hit potholes and wander seemingly lost.  We have twists and turns and bumps in the roads.  It is funny to me how we handle these crazy routes.  Some of us freak out and cannot handle it.  Some of us just kind of roll with it.  And, I think most of us are somewhere in the middle.  Which one are you?  I think that I tend to roll with it and know that I will end up where I am supposed to be, but I also grumble and worry a bit along the way.  I also think that I find a way to laugh and find the humor in it.  Maybe this would be an interesting people study....I think eventually I want to be the kind of person who doesn't worry at all and completely trusts God.  I think I am getting closer to that and I think he has really been working on me a lot for the past couple of years.  I feel like maybe I am closer to being that way than I am to not being that way if that makes sense.  I have not really enjoyed the whole process of letting go, but I do think it is important and worthy of doing!

Proverbs 3:5-6

New International Reader's Version (NIRV)
Trust in the Lord with all your heart.
    Do not depend on your own understanding.
In all your ways remember him.
    Then he will make your paths smooth and straight.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Heart of Glass


You say that I have too many walls
Surrounding this heart of glass
You need to understand that they are there for a reason
Without them I could not be safe
Without them I would be too fragile
But, they are not permanent fixtures
They can come down
You just have to show me that you are safe
And that you won’t smash my heart if given the chance
You will have to take those bricks down one by one
Just as they were put up one by one
There is so much in there that I would love to share
But I don’t find too many who are worthy
Or patient enough to find the real me
Will you be the one to carefully remove each brick?
Do you really care what’s in there?
You say, “Yes, of course!”
That is not enough….
Show me

I wrote this in 1986!  Crazy to think how long ago that was...and crazy to think how much this still applies today....

Friday, April 26, 2013


I am going to attempt to write this post without hurting anyone's is going to be tricky, because there is alot of pain in my past....but I think it needs to be here goes...I grew up in a home that was broken.  When I was very little, my parents fought all the time and our home was loud and scary alot.  Then my parents divorced.  They hated each other and honestly to this day, they kind of still do.  Even after the divorce, home was hard.  There was still alot of yelling and fighting and well, just bad stuff.  I say this because it is the truth....but I will also say that I now believe that my parents did the best that they could at the time.  I think they both had a lot of pain in their past and that they struggled.  I think they have both grown over time and I love them.  I do not have any bitterness or anger toward them and I realize that sometimes we have to learn from our mistakes and that unfortunately sometimes kids have to suffer through that.  I will also say that I think God was with us through that whole time and took care of me in other ways and that he used all of that experience to shape and mold me.  OK, so here we go.  Growing up I never felt good enough.  I felt like it did not matter what I did or how good I was....It was never enough.   I felt like a failure and a mess.  I felt like no one really wanted me to be me and that I needed to be a perfect little peacekeeper.  Every report card I ever got said that I talked too much and did not work up to my full potential.  I have been used by guys, betrayed by friends, lost jobs for no fault of my own, failed at marriage....Anyway, the bottom line is that I have always felt like everyone would leave me one it would just take me saying or doing one wrong thing and things would end.  I have felt like it did not matter what I did, how good or kind I was that it just would not matter.  I have felt like I am too high maintainence or stupid or unloveable or difficult.  I have felt like if people really knew me...all of me.....that they would not like me.  That was my past....but recently things have been happening that blow my mind.  It seems wierd....not real, awesome, but not real....People are listening to me.  They are wanting to hear what I have to say.  They are wanting to share my story.  They are telling me that I inspire them to do things.  This change has taken place over several years.   I guess I do feel different.  God has been molding and shaping me over time.  He has seen me through trials and has turned me upside down to shape me.  I so want to be the kind of person that inspires others....that encourages others, that God can use to change lives.  I want to be that person.  To some extent, I guess I am becoming that person, but it often catches me off guard.  It surprises me.  It is a nice and wonderful feeling, but I still feel somewhat undeserving and quite flawed.....I will also say that I feel loved.   I have the most amazing friends in the world.  And my church has been my home for several years.  I have leaned into God and even when things have gotten hard, I have trusted God.  This last year and a half has been one of the most difficult times in my life.  Everything has been turned upside down.  The plans I have made have failed.  And my faith has been tested.  I have tried to really depend on God and my faith during these trials.  He has never wavered or failed.  He has provided for every need.  I have wept to him and yelled at him and laughed at / with him.  I have relied on scripture when nothing else made any sense.  And he has been faithful to me.  He is using me in ways I never imagined and it is just the coolest thing ever.  I am certain that my trials are not over and that my faith will continue to be tested.  I hope that I am able to continue to touch lives and that God is able to do his work through me.  I hope that I truly am inspiration to others and that they are drawn closer to God by what they see in me.  Anyway, I am not sure that I said everything here in the exact way that I wanted to....but hopefully it helps someone or speaks to someone that needed to hear it.  I spoke in front of the church a couple of years ago and said that the plans the world has for us....the story the world has for us is not God's plan for us or God's story for us....and that is so very true.  So, hear this....God's plan for you is not the plan the world tells you....Your story isn't what the world says....God has wonderful plans for you and he can take any brokenness...any ugliness and turn it into something beautiful and amazing!  Jeremiah 29:11 says, "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "Plans to prosper you and not to harm you.  Plans to give you HOPE and a FUTURE."  Trust that, believe that....because it is so true!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Feelin' It....

When I started this blog, I made a committment to myself to be really share the ups and downs of this single life that I am in, in hopes that in some way it will help or encourage others.  I have to say that the happy upbeat messages are the easiest.  The ones where I am struggling are not so easy.  My history or track record is that when things get painful emotionally, I shut 'em down.  I turn all of my emotion off...I am very skilled at this, as I have had quite a bit of practice throughout my lifetime.  But, when I got divorced, I started counseling.  At that time, I truly felt nothing.  My counselor, Char, pushed me to open up.  She kept pushing until I did.  One thing sticks out to me in particular...she was talking to me one day and asked why I would not let myself feel anything--why I would not allow myself to cry.  I told her that I was afraid that if I let it out...if I started crying, that I would never be able to stop.  I told her that I felt like humpty dumpty and that if I let it all out I would be broken to pieces and there would be nobody around to help me put it all back together again.  It was a true feeling and I felt completely alone.  I was scared to death.  I finally did open up and I did let it all out, and it ended up being ok...since that time, I have tried to be real.  I have tried to allow myself to feel emotions, even if they are painful.  But, there are times like now where my instinct tells me to stuff it...bottle it up....put it away....and make my heart safe.  I am not going to do that this time.  
So, here is the thing....several months ago I met a guy.  Actually, I met a couple of guys, but one stood out...I wrote about him before.  Well, I spent alot of time with this guy and...well, I developed strong feelings for him.  I think I actually started to love him....but those feelings were not returned.  It seemed like there were feelings on his part, but maybe I was just reading into things.  Anyway, after several months of hanging out together, sharing experiences, and introducing our kids, I felt like I did not want him to date other people.  He did not feel the same.  It has really confused me.  The thing is that we spent hours and hours together.  We talked about everything and I mean everything.  We have had several evenings where we have talked for 5,6, 7 up to 10 hours.  You just don't find that every day...But, somehow he did not feel the same...So, now we are done--moving on.  It hurts.  It hurts bad!  I have cried more in this last couple of weeks than I can remember in the past few years!  I am fine when I am busy, but when I stop and have a moment alone, I lose it.  I hate feeling this way and my instinct is to stuff it, hide it, run from it....but I am not.  I am trying to just feel it and work through it.  My instinct is to not date at all and not take the risk of getting hurt.  But, I am not going to do that either.  I truly still believe I will be fine if I am alone forever, or I will be fine if someone comes along to walk beside me.    So, hopefully, this crying stuff passes soon.  Anyway, I guess that is enough sharing for today.  :)

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Keeping it Real....

Today's post is going to be more real than usual....meaning stuff I don't really say out loud usually...Here is the thing, I have grown so much over the years, particularly in the last 5 years.  I am happy.  I have a great life.  I have wonderful friends and amazing kids.  I am able to help lots of people.  I am so thankful for all of that.  I typically project this image that I have it mostly together...and for the most part, I do.  I just sometimes have these moments (and they really mostly are just moments) where I wonder if I am still broken inside.  I guess maybe we are all broken inside to some extent....I feel like I have lots of friends, am well liked, and worthy of being loved....I really do believe that.  But, I also have this part of me that always wonders when the other shoe is going to drop.  I have this nagging feeling that everyone could leave / turn on me at some point--like if I mess up and do that ONE thing they will leave and I will be all alone.  I sometimes even FEEL that way with God.  I KNOW that is not true in my head.  And he has shown me over and over that it is not true...But, it is still in there....I don't want it to be, but it is.  I hate that part of me.  I want that Chelle to go away never to return, but somehow all it takes is one betrayal, one person's rejection, or one wrong word.  It is so frustrating to go backwards.  I get to a point where I feel like things are going well...I am strong, etc.  but then one wrong word, one rejection, and I am right back to the beginning.  So, where is this coming from?  The truth is that I found a guy that I liked.  I started off good and slow and then opened my heart and dropped my guard.  I did not use my best judgement and I got disappointed.  I have said that someone can only hurt you if you let them...and it is true....But, I let him.  It is crazy how one small hurt happens, but instead of feeling just that one hurt, you feel all of the previous hurts over again.  Anyway, tomorrow is a new day.  I will focus on the one who will never let me down and that will be sufficient.

Jason Gray--Remind Me

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Pray Without Ceasing

1 Thessalonians 5:12-22

12Brothers and sisters, we ask you to have respect for the godly leaders who work hard among you. They have authority over you. They correct you. 13Have a lot of respect for them. Love them because of what they do. Live in peace with each other.
14Brothers and sisters, we are asking you to warn those who don't want to work. Cheer up those who are shy. Help those who are weak. Put up with everyone. 15Make sure that nobody pays back one wrong act with another. Always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else.
16Always be joyful. 17Never stop praying. 18Give thanks no matter what happens. God wants you to thank him because you believe in Christ Jesus.
19Don't put out the Holy Spirit's fire. 20Don't treat prophecies as if they amount to nothing. 21Put everything to the test. Hold on to what is good. 22Stay away from every kind of evil.
What does it mean to you to pray without ceasing?  I have read that verse many times before and it always made me feel bad....that I was not praying enough...not carving out enough special prayer time.  But I think my view has changed on this...I now believe that it is more of a constant connection with God.  Not necessarily out loud formal prayers, but maybe more of a thought.  Somewhere along the line I have become tuned into God.  He is always right there with me and I can feel him...I know he is there.  From the time I wake to the time I sleep I feel like I am connected.  I may just see something and say a quick "God help them".  Or it may be a sense of fear that grips me and I say "God help me or give me peace".  I do not often have long drawn out prayers, but I have small sentences, phrases, thoughts throughout the day most of the time.  I think that is what Paul meant.  It could be different for other people....but for me that is what I think.   I would love to hear your thoughts on this...
Paul is not referring to non-stop talking, but rather an attitude of God-consciousness and God-surrender that we carry with us all the time. Every waking moment is to be lived in an awareness that God is with us and that He is actively involved and engaged in our thoughts and actions.

Read more:
For Christians, prayer should be like breathing. You do not have to think to breathe because the atmosphere exerts pressure on your lungs and essentially forces you to breathe. That is why it is more difficult to hold your breath than it is to breathe. Similarly, when we are born into the family of God, we enter into a spiritual atmosphere where God's presence and grace exert pressure, or influence, on our lives. Prayer is the normal response to that pressure. As believers, we have all entered the divine atmosphere to breathe the air of prayer.

Unfortunately, many believers hold their “spiritual breath” for long periods, thinking brief moments with God are sufficient to allow them to survive. But such restricting of their spiritual intake is caused by sinful desires. The fact is that every believer must be continually in the presence of God, constantly breathing in His truths, to be fully functional.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Chelle's Diet

So, over the past twenty(ish) years I somehow managed to gain over 100 pounds....Not really something I am proud of.  There are many reasons....two kids, my thyroid got sluggish, depression, several bouts of bronchitis and pneumonia which caused me to need steroids, etc.  So I tipped 200 in January of 2012 reaching a high of 210!  I never dreamed that I would get that big and it really made me sick.  I felt powerless and like there was no way I would ever take it off.  I kind of settled into it I guess...Well, in June of 2012, I went to Brazil on a mission trip.  I have talked about it changing my life in many ways, but my weight is the most recent result of that trip.  I remember when I was on the trip, I complained about my weight all the time and was just disgusted with myself. 

Katie, another girl on the trip, said "well, do something about it."  We actually talked about it quite a bit and she shared the story of how much weight she had lost and how she did it.  When I came home from Brazil, I had lost seven pounds.  I decided to try some of the stuff from that trip and it has really worked.  I have tried many diets and failed.  This doesn't feel like a here goes.

When we were in Brazil, we ate three meals a day and a snack.  We ate cake (yep cake), cheese, meat, and fruit for breakfast with some sort of juice.  We had noodles, rice, meat, veggies, and fruit for lunch.  We drank pop with it.  For dinner, again noodles, rice, meat, veggies, fruit, and pop.  We also had dessert like cake or flan with dinner each night.  Then usually in the later evening we had a snack.  It might be a cake or flan or a smoothie.  Throughout the rest of the day we drank water and lots of it.  There was no food out in between meals and we were busy, so I didn't just snack all day.  I think that one thing that happened was that my stomach shrank back to a normal size.  Our stomachs should be about the size of our fist.  I think when you eat and snack all the time, you stretch it out over time.  Also, all of the food on the trip was cooked from scratch.  It was fresh stuff.  So, what I do now.....
1.  I eat what I want when I want--if I want a cupcake, I eat a cupcake.   But, it is ONE cupcake and it isn't like every day.  I never feel cheated or like I am missing out, so I don't feel the need to sneak food.
2.  I eat until I am full.  Sometimes that is five bites and sometimes it is a full plate, but the second I start to feel full, I am satisfied and I stop. 
3.  I try to eat mostly foods that are cooked fresh--from scratch.  I try not to eat out alot.  Since I have been doing this, fast food tastes gross to me.  I mean so gross that I take a bite or two and throw it away.  And, real food has so much flavor!  Veggies and fruits are full of flavor.  I think when you eat junk, you kind of coat or dull your taste buds which makes junk taste good.  But, when you detox from the junk you really start to taste things. 
4.  I gave up pop in the last month or so.  Again, every once in awhile I have one.  The first four days were aweful.  I had gotten into a habit of drinking lots of Mt. Dew.  So the first four days without it, I just wanted one so bad!  Well, on the fourth day I caved and bought one.  I drank it and guess didn't even taste that good.  I didn't even finish it.  I have found that when I have pop, one pop might last me several hours and that may be all I drink all day.  When I am drinking water, I drink alot more.  Like 6-7 or more bottles a day.  That makes me go to the restroom more which I think flushes all the garbage out.  Again, now that I am in the habit, water tastes really good to me.
5.  I just started adding a little bit of exercise.  I am just doing about 15 minutes a day on the wii fit.  I tripled the amount of weight lost in a week just by adding this bit. 
6.  I try to weigh myself every day.  I use the wii fit and I can see the last year on the graph on it.  I also post about the losses on facebook.  It gives me a bit more incentive to keep going and makes me feel accountable.

Again, the bottom line is that I don't feel like I am dieting and this is not hard.  It was a little hard at first, but being on the mission trip was a good way to start.  I have made lifestyle changes that I feel like I will be able to maintain for life. 

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Once A Month Cooking March 2013


Chicken and Dumplings:  We ended up not making this one. I messed up when making baggies of food.  I made two batches of the italian chicken for each person.  It looks really good though.

Lasagna:  Each pan of lasagna takes about 9 noodles (I do not precook the noodles).  I take about a pound of ground beef and brown it with onions and garlic.  Drain off the fat and then mix in one or two jars of spaghetti sauce and one to two jars of water.   (I use equal parts water and spaghetti sauce)  In another bowl, mix one container of either ricotta or cottage cheese (we used cottage cheese this time), one large bag of mozzerella, one can of parmesan cheese, some garlic salt, basil, oregeno, and a couple of eggs.  Put a layer of the spaghetti sauce on the bottom of the pan, add three noodles (cover the pan), add some cheese mix, more spaghetti sauce, noodles, cheese, sauce....keep going til you get three layers of noodles.  Top that layer with a good amount of sauce and then cover with more mozzerella cheese.  Cover with foil and freeze.  When you are ready to cook, you can put it directly from the freezer to the oven, or you can thaw first and then bake.  If you thaw first bake around 350 for about an hour.  (Til noodles are soft)  If you cook from frozen you can up the temp to 400 and it will likely take around 2 hours. 
If you are making this in bulk, just multiply ingredients by the number of families or lasagnas that you want to make.


Manicotti--About 7-8 manicotti tubes will fit in one pan.  Mix one-two jars of spaghetti sauce with one to two jars of water (the water helps the noodles get soft).  In another bowl, mix one container of ricotta, one bag mozzerella, on jar parmesan cheese,  garlic salt, basil, oregano, and parsley flakes.  Put a small amount of sauce in the bottom of your pan.  Stuff each tube with the cheese mixture and lay it on top of the sauce.  Pour the sauce over the top of the should cover them.  Top with a bag of mozzerella cheese.  Cover with foil and freeze. When you are ready to cook, you can put it directly from the freezer to the oven, or you can thaw first and then bake. If you thaw first bake around 350 for about an hour. (Til noodles are soft) If you cook from frozen you can up the temp to 400 and it will likely take around 2 hours. 
If you are making this in bulk, just multiply ingredients by the number of families or manicotti that you want to make.


Beef with mushrooms--You can just dump this one into the crock pot when you are ready to cook...I will serve this with noodles or rice.

applesauce--you can freeze or just put in the fridge and eat.....Ours never makes it to the freezer.  We did about 40 apples this time.  We added a whole bottle of honey and only used about 3/4 cup sugar.  We also added cinnamon.   Once the apples are cooked and soft, just dump some of the apples and the liquid from the pan into a blender and mix it up....Adjust the consistency by controlling how much of the liquid you mix up with the apples.

Italian Chicken--We just take a ziploc gallon freezer bag and put 2-3 chicken breasts in it with one pack of italian dressing mix, a can of cream of chicken soup, a block of cream cheese and about 1/2 cup water or chicken broth.  You may have to add a little bit of water or broth on cooking day, but it should be pretty thick.  On cooking day, just dump in crock pot for 4-6 hours.  Shred the chicken into the sauce--it will be very tender.  Serve with rice or noodles.


Taco soup

                In each bag put some ground beef (we cooked ours with onions and garlic) , 1-2 can tomatoes, I can black beans, I can kidney beans, I can corn, taco season, dry ranch dip, onion.  Dump in crock pot and cook all day.  Top with sour cream and tortilla chips.


Chicken and Rice soup

BBQ--We bought 3 huge pork roasts.  They were on sale $1.99 a pound.  We cooked them in a slow cooker for about 8 hours with some chicken broth.  Meat was very tender.  We shredded it without the broth....and then added bbq sauce.  Bag it and freeze.  You can reheat in slow cooker or microwave.


Roast with veggies--We took beef roast and cut in chunks.  Added potatoes in fourths, onions in fourths, baby carrots, a pack of onion soup mix, and some water (about a cup).  Just put all of it raw in gallon freezer bags.  On cooking day, dump in crock pot and cook 6-8 hours. 


Pancakes--we cook these and then freeze on cookie sheets individually.  Once they are frozen you can bag them in gallon freezer bags...You can just thaw and eat or microwave.  We added frozen blueberries to them this time.  (If you dust the blueberries with flour while they are frozen and put them in the pancakes that way, they don't make it all blue.)

apple bread--we add brown sugar and cinnamon to the top of this....

banana bread--we ended up saving the bananas for next time.  We peeled them and put them in a bag in the freezer.

pineapple bread--we added brown sugar to the top.

We bake all of the breads and let them cool.  Then we wrap them in foil.

You should make labels with name of food, date, and cooking directions and put them on the ziploc bags before you fill them if you want the labels to stay on. 

We had a lot of extra eggs.  We cracked them and put 12 in a bag and froze them.
We also froze extra sour cream, ricotta, cheese, and butter.  As long as they are just used in recipes, they will be fine, but the sour cream and ricotta will change in texture from freezing.

We had four people cook this time, but we made two extras of everything for two families that need some stuff.  Our budget was $150 per family.  I went over a little, but we had quite a bit left over for next time.  We also made two full extra sets of food.