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div class=”separator” style=”clear: both; text-align: center;”a href=”” imageanchor=”1″ style=”clear: left; cssfloat: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;”img border=”0″ height=”179″ s5=”true” src=”” width=”200″ //a/divI will be the first to admit that I do not enjoy standing in a kitchen during witching hour* trying to pull together a healthy, balanced dinner. It is even more difficult when my hubby is not home and my strikebabysitter/strike oldest daughter is working on math while the teething toddler whines the whine that begins headaches. Add in the fact that I am already hungry and we wind up with a hot mess in our house. Sound vaguely familiar? br /br /Years ago I went to one of those meal prep places where you go in for two hours and put together 6 to 12 meals you can freeze. It was great, except it wasn’t cheap. It was great because I didn’t have to think about dinner and we didn’t eat out much throughout the month. Many of those places have since closed down due to the economy. br /br /Next I tried the menu thing. You know, sit down for 20 minutes figure out a menu and then make your grocery list. Except the 20 minutes turned into two hours because it seemed every meal I ever made decided to play hooky from my brain. Bad time for writer’s block!br /br /I tried a href=”;i=l0″E-Mealz/a. Dave Ramsey recommends them and it worked for a few months. I got to a point where the meals included too many things my family would not eat. When I realized that I was crossing out every meal except two, I knew we needed a break from /br /Lately, I have been finding a LOT of great recipes online and have been trying them out at home. Many of them are made from scratch! *gasp* For a mom who doesn’t have patience to cook big meals this has been a surprising change. The meals I have found are healthy, easy em{code for fast}/em and kid friendly.em {Well 2 out of our 3 kid friendly. I’ve got one who would eat pasta with butter for the rest of his life if I let him.} /embr /br /Recently we decided to try Netflix to see if we possibly could get rid of our cable. One of the programs I found is called Pantry Raid. Chef a href=””Michael Schulson/a shows people how they can cook a healthy meal using what is in their pantry. I have already used his applesauce recipe that he did on one episode. I also love the fact that he says, “Follow the recipe, but then you can add whatever you like to make it uniquely yours.” Totally my style of cooking!br /br /emWhy am I telling you all this? /embr /br /Last week I had home cooked meals ALL WEEK!! I didn’t plan it. I just found some things I liked, I knew my family would like and made them. Yesterday, after church we decided to go out to lunch and when I checked our “dining out” envelope it was full! Normally by the 2nd week after a pay period we do not have much left. It was a pleasant surprise to find that we had hardly dipped into it for over a week! Because of this, we were able to go to a restaurant that didn’t serve greasy burgers and fries. What a great reward for cooking all week! If I cook again all week this week, we will still have money in the dining envelope and then we either can use it to pay down debt or keep it for emergency pizza money. Can’t beat that!br /br /emspan style=”font-size: x-small;”*Witching Hour: The time of day where children and pets start acting loony. Kids become whiny, dogs start barking, nothing will pacify anyone and sometimes you want to just walk away. It is during this time when you want to just order pizza and be done with it./span/embr /a href=”” target=”_blank”img alt=”Anna” border=”0″ src=”” //a