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Family Life

Freezer Cooking For Busy Homeschoolers {MyFreezEasy Review}

You’re on your way home from a busy day after running around taking your kids to music lessons, co-ops, athletics, or maybe a field trip. You haven’t got a clue what to serve your crew for dinner. Do you swing by your favourite take out joint? Order a pizza? Make pancakes? What else is a busy homeschool mom to do?

This post contains affiliate links. Please see my disclosure policy for details.

Getting meals on the table has long been a HUGE struggle for this homeschool mama. That’s why I was so excited to have the opportunity to try out the MyFreezEasy.com Freezer Meal Plan Membership from MyFreezEasy. And after the experience I’ve had in this past month,  I have to tell you that freezer cooking, and this resource in particular, has been a game changer for me!

Cooking once and having 10 meals prepped for your busiest days?! Yes please!

I’ve long been a fan of freezer cooking, and I do try to double up on my cooking to keep my freezer stocked. But I had grown tired of the same fare: spaghetti sauce, chilli, shepherd’s pie, and lasagna. I was anxious to try out new recipes!

What is MyFreezEasy?

MyFreezEasy is a meal plan website that provides monthly meal plans complete with recipes, shopping lists, assembly instructions, video tutorials, and even printable labels to make freezer cooking a breeze.

Each month, members are provided with 8 meal plans (traditional, gluten free, slow cooker, all chicken, all ground beef, all pork chop, clean eating, and  20 meals). All of the meal plans are designed to have you spend 1 hour in the kitchen and come out with 10 pre-made meals, except the last one which will add 20 meals to your freezer.

MyFreezEasy.com Freezer Meal Plan Membership {MyFreezEasy}
 

My first session

September was a really busy month in our household with the return to many of our outside activities (piano lessons, co-op, field trips, etc) but also with my parents temporarily moving in with us. It also involved a lot of painting and cleaning to get their new home move-in ready, and then another moving day when they moved out. It was a great opportunity to both make use of my mom’s free labour, and have 10 prepared meals in the freezer for the busy month ahead.

As soon as I got my membership, I quickly checked out the system. The September meal plans had just been released, and I chose to use the Traditional Meal Plan for my first time through. Like all the other meal plans, the Traditional Meal Plan has printable grocery lists, detailed assembly instructions, and printable freezer labels, but it also has a full, hour long video of Erin (the owner of MyFreezEasy) actually preparing the meals and demonstrating her system. I’m not exactly a whiz in the kitchen, so after previewing parts of the video the night before, I actually set up my laptop on the kitchen counter and cooked along with her when I was ready to begin.

Mom & I hit the grocery store together, armed with the MyFreezEasy grocery list. The only difficulties we had were with the way some of the ingredients are listed (using imperial measurements rather than metric, and American standard sizes rather than Canadian), and in actually finding some of the ingredients in our local store. I’ve never purchased canned green chilies, and they were no where on my local grocery store’s shelves; I’ve also never seen bags of frozen peppers and onions. After making a few adjustments, we were ready to go!

That evening, after all the kids were tucked into bed, we set up for an evening of cooking. We lined up foil & pyrex pans, and labeled Ziplock bags. We chopped the fresh peppers & onions to replace the frozen. Then we watched the assembly video and cooked, stirred, and chopped along with Erin. It didn’t take us one hour (it took closer to two!) but we went to bed that night with 10 meals from the five recipes!

The September Traditional Meal Plan included:

  • Lazy Lasagna – this turned out excellent, and I don’t think I’ll ever make a regualr lasagna again!
  • Chicken Fajita Bake – this one was good too, we love fajitas around here.
  • Slow Cooker Spicy Mango Chicken Tacos — this one wasn’t too popular with the kids.
  • Slow Cooker Teriyaki Pork Tenderloin — we haven’t tried this one yet.
  • Slow Cooker Spanish Rice — we haven’t tried this one yet either.

And now for the best part …

After my initial experience using MyFreezEasy, I decided to dive a little deeper into the membership site and try out the features of the Premium Membership I was given. This is when I really got hooked. With the Premium Membership, you can build your own meal plans! Your kids don’t like peppers? Your husband is allergic to eggs? Maybe you hate slow cooker meals? No problem! Simply browse their recipe library and drag and drop the recipes you are interested in into the recipe box and you can create your own custom meals, just right for your own family.

You can search or browse the recipes by type of protein, cooking method, or dietary preference, so this resource is great for families working with gluten-free, dairy-free, or whole foods/Paleo diets. Another great feature is that you can file your favourite recipes into a favourites folder, so after we actually eat the meals, I can remember the ones my family loved, and which ones went over like a lead balloon. Because I don’t know about you, but my kids have a lot of opinions about what I serve for dinner, and they aren’t too shy (or very polite at times) about telling me about how they enjoyed dinner. Or didn’t.

I try to feed my family a primarily whole food diet, so for my second time using MyFreezEasy I made my selections mostly from those options. I made:

  • Pineapple Chicken Curry — this one rivalled the one I get from our favourite Cambodian Thai restaurant! Loved it!
  • Slow Cooker Mango Chicken — this one is good.
  • Cheesesteak Sloppy Joes — Sloppy Joes are new to our family and my oldest daughter loved it and has requested that we have it weekly. I don’t know if that will happen, but I’ll definitely be making it again.
  • Slow Cooker Curried Chickpeas & Vegetables — this one was a no go for everyone.
  • Slow Cooker Sweet Potato & Chicken Curry — the adults all liked this one, but the kids not so much.
Freezer cooking is a game changer for this busy homeschooling family
10 meals prepped and ready to go into the freezer!

This time, my kitchen time was much closer to the hour promised! I made a total of 20 freezer meals in the month of September, and I’ve still got some left over for October!

Who could benefit from MyFreezEasy?

While I think most, if not all busy families could benefit from the great resources offered by MyFreezEasy, I think it would be a great fit for:

  • homeschoolers whose activities take them away from home often
  • those who have a hard time meal planning
  • a group of moms who would like to get together and have a big freezer meal prep day/night together
  • mamas with babies & toddlers who are prone to having meltdowns late in the day (during typical dinner prep time)
  • those who would like to have a freezer well stocked with easy dinner options for when life gets busy, crisis strikes, or to bless new mamas, the sick, or bereaved

 

MyFreezEasy.com Freezer Meal Plan Membership {MyFreezEasy}

I’m thoroughly impressed with the MyFreezEasy system, and will be continuing to explore all the wonderful resources they have to offer — I’m so thankful for how it is making my life easier!

 

MyFreezEasy.com Freezer Meal Plan Membership {MyFreezEasy}
 

Crew Disclaimer

Being Intentional About Family Culture

Several years ago, when I was a new mom, I remember a colleague of mine chastising me for  not to putting up a Christmas tree on that particular year. “Alison,” she said, “traditions are important. This is your daughter’s childhood”.

Maybe she was a bit crazy (my daughter was only a year old after all), but now, eight years later, I can see where she was coming from. Traditions ARE important. What we decide to include and exclude in our regular family life DOES matter.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the environment we create in our homes, and what makes us unique from other families. We all spend our time and money differently. We do things differently. There are no carbon copy families.

I find the variety quite refreshing, don’t you?

I have some extended family members that are really into hunting and fishing and they even have the wardrobe to go with it. While my kids were learning to ride a bike, theirs were learning to put a worm on a line, steer a boat, or fire a gun. And while we plan for the upcoming holiday seasons, they plan for the hunting seasons.

They have a very different family culture than we do. Never in a million years would I want to spend a day hiding out in the bush, covered in bugs, trying to scope out an animal. Seriously. I’ve heard that even the women pee into hand held urinals. Nope. I can’t imagine the level of commitment to an activity that would entice me to do that! But they LOVE it!

What do you love to do? What shared activities tie you together as a family? What is included in your own family culture?

What is family culture anyway?

In the same way that a country or ethnic group may have its own particular traditions, customs, practices, and values, families also each have their own unique culture.

Here are some unique practices, values, and activities that I have seen in various family cultures:

  • hunting, fishing, hiking, camping
  • reading (a favourite podcast of mine is dedicated to building your family culture around books)
  • participation in, or appreciation of, the arts
  • academics
  • service (church, community, etc.)
  • sports
  • food & eating
  • gaming, technology, and comic-con

The list is really endless though. Families are like snowflakes, no two are exactly alike!

Why is Family Culture important?

Family culture is important. The Culture you create within your home will:

  • shape who your children become
  • influence how your children identify themselves
  • contribute to their sense of belonging
  • form the habits and roles they will perform later in life
  • shape the next generation through the values you pass on
The culture you create in your home has the power to influence not only those who live within the four walls of your home, but may even extend to your larger community.

It is so important to be intentional about your family culture! All families, have their own unique cultures, be intentional about incorporating habits, traditions, and values that reflect your own personal convictions.

Whether you realize it or not, your family has its own culture. You may not even be aware of some of the components of your family culture!

And here’s a sobering thought, if you are not intentional about building the family culture you want, you just may absorb the culture that surrounds you (for better or for worse!).

This is why it is so important that we be intentional about what kind of culture we are building in our homes!

Here are some simple ways to build the culture you want:

  • Decide to spend your time, money, and resources in areas that reflect your values.
  • Actively seek activities that reflect your values and reject those that don’t.
  • Share family stories and history.
  • Encourage a collective identity — the sense of “this is who we are”.
  • Celebrate each other and your uniqueness.

While the basis of many of our choices are often serious values and beliefs, how these are reflected in various families can vary greatly

. For example, many families place a high importance on health and well being. How each family choses to reflect that value however, can be quite different. One family may express it through participation in athletics and sport, another through a commitment to healthy eating, and still another by prioritizing activities in the outdoors.

So have some fun creating family traditions and building a strong family culture that reflects your values! And know that doing so will enrich the lives of those you love most. and invest in the future of your family.

I’d love to hear about what makes your family unique! Tell me in the comments below what traditions, habits, or values tie the members of your family together <3

 


Married with Children: Surviving and Thriving the Child-Rearing Years {For Better or For Kids Review}

With divorce rates hovering around the 50% mark (and some say this stat is accurate even among Christians), we would all be wise to stand up and take notice. It surrounds us everywhere: in our neighborhoods, families, and yes, even our churches.

Despite what the fairy tales may have led us to believe, happily ever after is not a guarantee. It takes work rather than just riding off into the sunset.

15 years ago, my now husband and I were preparing for our very own happily ever after. We weren’t completely naive, and besides booking rentals, ring & dress shopping, and creating the perfect gift registry, we were actually making our way through a recommended reading list and attending pre-marital counselling sessions with a godly married couple with many years of marriage experience to draw from.

One thing I don’t remember discussing, or even thinking about much, was marriage with children. Like most couples, we wanted to be parents someday, but that was about all the thought we had put into it.

Patrick & Ruth Schwenk’s latest book is focused on inspiring husbands and wives to build their marriages during the child-rearing years, or as the book states, to “love your spouse with kids in the house”. Patrick & Ruth are parents of four children, serve in local church ministry, the authors of several books as well as the creators of The Better Mom and For the Family websites.

For Better or for Kids is a fairly short, easy read, written in a casual, conversational style. It is written to both husbands and wives, with Patrick & Ruth’s individual perspectives and contributions noted throughout. It is written in similar way to Hoodwinked which Ruth co-authored with Karen Ehman; you can see  my review here.

They cover such topics as the mission of marriage, sex, parenting, grace, family rhythms, dealing with busyness, burnout, communication, finances and more. Interspersed throughout the text are “Just the Two of Us” discussion questions to encourage conversation between spouses if a couple is reading the book together.

For Better or For Kids - a vow to love your spouse with kids in the house - by Patrick & Ruth Schwenk {BOOK REVIEW}

Considerable focus is given to the topic of childcentered vs me centered vs Christ centered marriage, and included is an overview with questions to ask yourself, or “Signs of a Child Centered Marriage”.

I admit I take exception with a lot of their focus in this area on the necessity of parents going out on dates, and their view that a couple NEEDS time alone AWAY together in order to have a happy, healthy love life. Patrick actually mentions that in marriage counselling, he tells couples that they need to go on dates.

I do find these statements a little too strong, considering the advice is most definitely extra-biblical. I personally believe that our modern, western idea and practice of dating (before or after marriage) is cultural and not at all necessary, as is our idea of vacations.

Now don’t get me wrong — I’m not at all apposed to being taken out to dinner by my husband, or enjoying a week or weekend away with or without my children — but these are definitely not necessary for health or happiness! Many people don’t have access to babysitters or can’t afford eating out or travel. I would certainly never assume that all couples can or even want to do these things!

Aside from what I considered to be a misplaced emphasis on dating and weekends away without children, this book had a lot of great encouragement for structuring your family life in a way that will build your marriage relationship.

The Better Mom website also has a For Better or for Kids 10 Day Challenge  you can sign up for, which will give you 10 days of email encouragement and video inspiration from the Schwenks to help you learn more about building your marriage during these challenging child-rearing years.

 

I received a complementary copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a review. I was not required to provide a favourable review, and all opinions expressed are my own. For more information, please read my disclosure policy.