I am watching Extreme Couponing while I write this. I'm feeling both inspired and disgusted. Some of these people go through tons of work and spend tons of time to get tons of free stuff that they then donate to food banks, animal shelters, and friends in need. I think that is awesome. Whenever someone is having a food and toiletry drive, it is nice for me to be able to pull things out of my stockpile to donate. But I want to be careful of my attitude. In 1 Chronicles David was ordered to build an altar to the Lord and went to Araunah to buy his field. Araunah, in his exuberance, offered to give everything to David for free. David replied, "I will not . . . sacrifice a burnt offering that costs me nothing." I think that attitude is important to keep in mind. I can give a bag full of toiletries to someone and feel great for passing on a lot of good stuff that hardly cost my family anything. And if I can't afford to give anything other than time and effort to them otherwise, then that is great. But when I give them stockpile items just because I don't want to spend money or give something that is uncomfortable, I am no giving sacrificially. Every situation is different and depends on what God as laid on your heart. But a sacrifice, by its own definition, cannot cost nothing.
I think Araunah is important here too. He had a great heart - he wanted to give as well. But in his generosity, he needed not to take away from David's giving. Sometimes we can get so excited to give something or do something for someone that we don't give them the opportunity to do what God has called them to do. It's hard to learn to let someone help you, but sometimes we need to remember that perhaps the lesson is for them, not for us, or for both!
A lot of the couponers on this show, though, seem pretty ridiculous to me. I understand the thrill - getting 2 or 3 things free is so much fun. Getting 20 or 30 is probably a huge rush. I'm grateful for how hard my husband works so I can stay home with my son, and couponing is one of the ways I help and try to show him my gratitude. But we both recognize that time is still more important than money. Jeremy doesn't work late hours because he wants to have quality time with me and Malachi. And I just don't see the need to put 40 hours a week into couponing to save money but end up feeling like I'm still working and getting no time with Malachi!
There is also a difference between good stewardship and greed, and James reminds the rich "It is in the last days that you have hoarded treasure." I always want to look at my motives - why am I buying all this? Will it actually help our family? Will we actually use this down the road (before it expires)? Can I give this away? Can I leave enough on the shelf to respect other shoppers?
That was a big rabbit trail. All that to say that a couple weeks ago I got a can of refried beans for about 20% of the normal shelf price. Because I wasn't doing my regular shopping I didn't have any frozen burritos in the house and let me tell you - I love me some frozen burritos. I don't know why I love them so much, but I really do and they make me super happy. So I decided to make some myself. I mean, seriously? It can't be that hard....
Except it can. Jeremy will tell you, I STINK at rolling burritos. I just can't do it right. My stuff always falls out, and he always does it for me. I made 4 burritos, and by the fourth one I had it down. Woohoo! Ingredients: refried beans, tomatoes with green chilis, cheese, tortilla. Freeze. Reheat later. Eat. Be happy.
Another fun and easy thing I like to make is homemade applesauce. It is seriously SO MUCH BETTER than jarred, it's plenty sweet without added sugar, and it's pretty easy. The hardest part is peeling, coring, and slicing all the apples. I used a lot of apples for this. Maybe 10-12? Peel them, core them, slice them. Put them in a stock pot with about half an inch of liquid (you can use water, apple juice, or apple cider). Simmer them slowly with the lid on, stirring occasionally, until they mush easily with a wooden spoon. Then you can either put them through a food processor to get the very smooth texture you would find in the store, or you can mash it with a potato masher for more textured, rustic applesauce - definitely my preference. I also add some cinnamon at the end.
Different types of apples cook at different times. Really firm apples like Granny Smiths take longer than soft apples like Golden Delicious. Also, different apples create quite a different taste. Granny Smiths alone would make a much tarter applesauce. Pink Ladies alone make it super sweet. If you care, think it through. I personally don't care much. I used a mix of varieties and textures and cooked them all for the same amount of time because I like my applesauce rustic and I'm not too picky. Do what you prefer.
Homemade applesauce is generally only cheaper if you buy your apples in season from an orchard or a farmer's market. Apples can get really overpriced at the grocery store, so you want to think through the value before you take the venture.