One of my children’s favourite things to do is to imagine that they are the characters in the stories we read. When learning about ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome, I would often find them designating someone (or a doll or action figure) to be god […]
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?
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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.
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.
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
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!
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
- service (church, community, etc.)
- 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.
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