Thursday, May 30, 2013

Schoolhouse Review: Simplified Pantry

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I have entered the busy season of my year --  this is pretty much the most stressful time for us because summer kicks life into high gear in ministry.  There's no sweet vacation on the beach or weekend getaways for our family until all activities cease, so I'm always looking for ways to simplify my responsibilities.  Simplified Pantry has helped to make this easier for me.  I've had the privilege to check out three different eBooks available from Simplified Pantry/Simply Convivial -- and they are helping me to get things done without adding extra stress to my life.

Author Mystie Winckler is a wife and mother of 5 who has been-there/done-that and has definitely walked in my shoes.  Her super-organizational tips and time-saving hints are helping me serve my family more effectively and giving me more time to spend with them.  I like that.  The three books are:

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  1. Simplified Dinners ($12.99) helps make the task of cooking much  easier -- and it's added some new variety to our recipe rotation.   This 30-page eBook really gives you permission to simplify your life while providing for the needs of your family.  {Do you ever feel like you need permission to relax as a mom?  I know I do.}   
  2. Simplified Dinners:  Gluten-free/Dairy-free ($12.99) teaches you how to cook for those in your family with special dietary needs.  A wide variety of meals are shared and you can download a sample to give them a try for yourself.  This 33-page eBook arrived at just the right time for me.  I loved being able to share some of the recipes from it with a friend who was diagnosed with celiac disease just a few weeks ago.  {Isn't it neat that GOD's timing is always perfect?}
  3. Paperless Home Organization ($3.99) takes all of the guess work out of using your technological devices to your advantage and shows you step-by-step how to make them work FOR you.  I don't know about you, but I find myself becoming a slave to technology at times so it is quite refreshing to have it helping me save time instead of hindering my time.  Available as a PDF (75-pages) or in Kindle format, Paperless Home Organization can help you get everything of importance in one general place -- perfect for cutting down on the post-it notes on my refrigerator.  
So how did these books work for me in "real life"?

For starters, I am and always have been a cookbook "junkie."  I got it honest from my grandmother and have enjoyed perusing recipe collections for as long as I can remember.  As a result, I wasn't content to just read the Simplified Dinners books on my computer and iPad -- no, I wanted/needed a hands-on copy so I began by printing them out so that I could mark them up and get a real feel for what was inside.

Mystie begins each book by explaining why you should simplify mealtime by paring down the pantry and ditching recipes that call for multiple steps/weird ingredients.  She actually gave me permission to chunk that can of asparagus tips in the back corner of my cabinet.  She shares the benefits of a minimalist approach to nutrition and makes me feel like a gourmet cook.  Not only that, but the eBooks make it easier for my children to have a part in the cooking routine.  

Beginning with the main ingredients or dishes (fish, roast, stir-fry, soup) Simplified Dinners explains the process you need to follow to prepare each one then offers variations to make that one ingredient or dish new again.  For example, Mystie tells the basic process for getting a pork roast ready for the crock-pot:
  1. Brown roast on all sides in a skillet with hot oil on high heat.
  2. Whisk together seasoning (explained and described) ingredients.
  3. Add browned roast, seasoning mix, and other ingredients to crock-pot.
  4. Cook on low for 6 - 8 hours.
THEN, she offers EIGHT different variations to make that roast the  By simply following the same 4 steps, you can impress your family with Barbecue Pork, Sweet & Sour Pork, Golden Glow Pork, and Savory Pork Roast -- just to share a few.  Simplified Dinners even made it easy for my children to make great weekly meal plans for the nights they are assigned to cook.  The Quick & Easy Side Dishes were perfect complements to the main dishes and were easily prepared by all.  Easy to read and understand, completely customizable recipes make life for this mama wonderful.  

I've been watching some food-related documentaries as I walk on my treadmill.  They have been quite eye-opening for me and making me realize how very closely we need to watch what goes into our bodies.  My dear friend was recently diagnosed with celiac disease and it has made for a complete lifestyle change for her.   When she first received the diagnosis, she was terrified.  She spent a good deal of money on gluten-free food and purchased a gluten-free cookbook thinking she would save money by cooking at home.  BUT she was so disappointed with her new cookbook because all of the ingredients were hard to find AND expensive.  The Simplified Dinners:  Gluten-free/Dairy-free book came at just the perfect time because I was able to share some of it with her.  Unlike other cookbooks, this one uses easy-to-find (i.e. NORMAL) ingredients for meals that can be cooked on a budget.  As a result, there is no need to prepare separate meals for those on a special or restricted diet.  Everyone can enjoy the same food -- and mom doesn't have additional stress due to dietary concerns.  My sweet  friend raves about the Peanut Butter Cookies and the Orange Honey Chicken (made in a crockpot for extra ease).  She says they are both so easy to make and that they taste great.  Her children do not realize they are eating mama's "nasty" gluten-free food.

These recipe collections/life-simplifying books were easy to incorporate into the daily life of my family.  Remember, I'm a self-professed cookbook junkie.  I'm still reading through and working through the Paperless Home Organization book and slowly making changes that benefit ME and help make me a better wife, mom, minister.  I knew that I had great tools at my disposal -- my MainMost kept telling me that I simply wasn't using them all to my best advantage.  I've been learning how to better integrate my iPhone, iPad, and computer -- and make my family and professional life run like a fine-tuned machine.  I truly do desire to Get Things Done and I'm moving toward being a better steward of my time and talents.  The piles of "important stuff" do tend to take over my life at times and the never-ending search for whatever it is that I've lost can be down-right embarrassing.

I'm learning now how to incorporate all things digital by using my existing Google account, the Evernote account my MainMost set up for me, and a great list-making app on my phone.  Change is hard, so this one is taking me a little while longer to implement fully, but my color-coded Google calendar and digital grocery list are definitely starting to replace the post-it notes.  I needed the reminder to GUARD MY CALENDAR and am working on saying NO to some things that just seem to fill up my hours with no benefit to my family.I used to be the most organized person I knew so now I'm working to get some of that back.

A great resource for busy moms and busy families, Simplified Pantry/Simply Convivial will not only help you get organized and evaluate your priorities, but it will make life simpler and give you more time to focus on your family.  Treat yourself to a visit today -- it's like sitting on the porch with a long-time friend.  You'll be glad you took the time to visit.

While you're visiting, take advantage of this special discount:    Mystie is offering a 30% discount on all of her eBooks through June 3.  Simply use the code TOS2013 at checkout and begin simplifying your life today because "The business done in the home REALLY IS nothing less than the shaping of the bodies and souls of humanity." – G.K. Chesterton 

This Day Has Great Potential!  Claim it!

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 I was given the opportunity to use and review Simplified Pantry as a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew.   You can check out the Crew Review and see what other members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew thought of this and other products as well (or just click on the banner below.)


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1 comment:

  1. Thank -you so much for sharing some of the gluten free recipes with me!I will be purchasing the cookbook.


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