After I finished an inventory of every storage area, I combined the lists into one master list to keep with me. I don’t need to know that there are three boxes of pencils in the closet and two boxes in the desk and another one on the computer table. All I need to know is that I have six boxes of pencils to go with my tall stacks of sticky notes when I’m deciding what to order or if I’m away from home and wandering the aisles of my favorite stores. Ideally, as we use these supplies, we can record that use on the inventory sheet, but that isn’t always a reality. That’s why conducting a new inventory at the beginning of each new year is usually necessary in order to remain current, but once an initial inventory has been completed, it is much easier to update it each year.

It feels great to know that this master list is going to keep me from wasting time or money buying things I already have. It also feels great to know that supper was cooking while I was busy cleaning and organizing and counting pencils! My favorite meals on the days I tackle time-consuming chores are the ones that don’t require my constant attention and are quick, easy, and hearty, such as soup or stew or chili. I won the “Chili Cook-Off Queen” title the first year our church held that annual event years ago. You’re welcome to borrow my crown.

Queen Molly’s Chili

2 pounds ground beef
2 large onions, chopped
2 large green peppers, chopped
2 1-pound cans, tomatoes (or 4 cups chopped fresh tomatoes)
2 1-pound cans, dark red kidney beans, drained
2 8-ounce cans tomato sauce
2 teaspoons salt
2–4 teaspoons chili powder (to taste)

In a heavy skillet, cook ground beef, onions, and peppers over medium-high heat until the meat is lightly browned and vegetables are tender—about 10 minutes. Drain off and discard the grease. Stir in remaining ingredients, bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer at least one hour, stirring occasionally. It can simmer in the slow cooker on low for hours.

The ground beef amount can be adjusted or eliminated. It also can be cooked, drained, and frozen ahead of time. If used frozen, the onion and green pepper can be sautéed in a little vegetable oil before combining with the rest of the ingredients to simmer.

This recipe makes about 8 servings. Combined with a salad and bread or crackers, it provides a wonderful winter meal. Possible toppings for the chili include shredded Cheddar cheese, shredded lettuce, sour cream, chopped jalapeño peppers, or corn chips.

***

It may be a new season and a new year, but I hope that you haven’t forgotten the gifts of the last one. Remember? There were seven gifts* I encouraged you to give to yourself last winter:

1. Enjoy a daily visit with God.
2. Memorize Scripture.
3. Drink enough water.
4. Get outside every day.
5. Plan ahead.
6. Ease into organization.
7. Enjoy creativity.

They are gifts for this year and the years to come as well. May your days ahead be warm and cozy and rich in the blessings of God.

* (If you missed my “Seven Gifts to Give Yourself” and the Winter 2009–2010 Issue of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, you might want to order a copy from TOS Magazine’s Old Schoolhouse Store at www.TheOldSchoolhouseStore.com.)

Copyright, 2011. Used with permission. All rights reserved by author. Originally appeared in Winter 2010-11 issue of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, the family education magazine. Read the magazine free at www.TOSMagazine.com  or read it on the go and download the free apps at www.TOSApps.com to read the magazine on your mobile devices.

Molly Green is passionate about cheerful, creative homemaking on a down-to-earth budget. Visit her online home, www.Econobusters.com, for tips about frugal and tasty cooking, fresh decorating ideas, affordable family fun, simple but effective organizing, and much more! Sign up for her free weekly E-Newsletter and get a bonus menu-planning E-Book too!

Publication date: January 18, 2013