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Answer the Question, "What's for Dinner?" Once and for All (A Homeschool Crew Review)

Up until recently, no words could inspire more fear in me than those classic words: "Hey, Mom, what's for dinner?" Those words would begin a chain reaction. From the realization that, "Oh, phooey, I have to figure out what's for dinner!" to the frustration of, "But I don't have time to go to the store!" to the guilty reluctance of, "Oh, well. There's frozen pizza...again." But not any more, my friend.

Our recent Homeschool Crew review has not been for a homeschool curriculum resource. It has been for an amazing meal planning resource about which I'm not really joking when I say it has revolutionized "What's for dinner?. We were given a MyFreezEasy.com Freezer Meal Plan Membership from MyFreezEasy. We received the Premium annual subscription.

MyFreezEasy meal planning program
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Now, I can imagine that some of you are beginning to shake your heads. "Ah, freezer cooking," you scoff, "I've tried that, and it didn't work for me." So had I. Years ago, as a young mom who struggled with the "What's for dinner?" question because I've never been a very apt cook, I borrowed a book on once-a-month freezer cooking. I was determined that I would do this. I would prepare all these meals, and we would never be running to McDonalds at five thirty in the evening with starving kids and no food prepared in the kitchen. (Not that I would ever stoop to McDonalds, of course. This is just...hypothetical.)

So I read this freezer cooking book. And, oh my goodness. To do this thing, I had to buy about five hundred dollars worth of groceries and work for about six hours on a Saturday to get these meals ready and in the freezer. And I had to make enough freezer space to store them. And, of course, there were duplicates of meals. And my wise husband had the question, "What if you spend all that money and make five of one meal that we just don't like?" Um...So I put the freezer meals book down and stepped away. Far away.

And then I began to see information popping up about MyFreezEasy. And I began to think about freezer cooking again. Because this looked doable. This looked like a method that just might work.

MyFreezEasy

The MyFreezEasy meal planning system is designed by Erin Chase. I've followed her online for some time because she originally had the $5 Dinners blog. I loved to pop over to her site and find simple recipes now and again when I actually remembered to plan what was for dinner. Later the $5 Meal Plan followed, and I tried it briefly. It was a pretty good meal planning system and worked pretty well for our family. But...like all meal planning systems, this one failed in a key aspect. It didn't actually cook dinner for me.

And then I saw Erin's FreezEasy meal plans. These are freezer cooking meal plans that you can choose and purchase as a one time thing from her shop. The idea was pretty cool. You can go into the shop, pick out a bundle of meal plans and purchase them to download. Okay. This freezer cooking thing stirred my interest again. But then it got even better.

MyFreezEasy is a monthly subscription plan. The basic membership gives members eight new meal plans a month, including recipes, shopping lists, prep instructions, and printable labels. Sounds good, right? But then there's the PREMIUM membership.

With the premium membership, you still get the eight freezer plans available every single month. They include:

  • A traditional plan of ten meals
  • A gluten-free plan of ten meals
  • A slow-cooker plan of ten meals
  • A clean eats pan of ten meals
  • An only chicken plan of ten meals
  • An only ground beef plan of ten meals
  • An all pork chops plan of ten meals
  • A twenty meal plan of...twenty meals
And- my favorite feature ever- you can create your own meal plan of five recipes which are doubled into ten meals. This is one of the best ever features for our family because I happen to have picky children. I know, I know, I created these picky children by letting them be picky about food early on. I also happen to be a rather picky eater. It's one of my faults. I'll confess it now. And when I open a meal plan and see a recipe for Grilled Lime-Coated Mahi-Mahi with Asparagus Marinated in Sweet Pickle Juice, I can guarantee you that none of my family will eat it. (Okay, maybe my dear husband who has sworn he'll at least try anything I cook- but none of the rest of us.) So having the freedom to pick and choose what recipes make up my meal plan is a key to making meal planning work for us.

Using MyFreezEasy

One of the things that has seemed daunting to me when I looked at freezer cooking is the fact that it just seems to hard to figure out. There's so much to coordinate- what to buy, what to prep, how to store it. MyFreezEasy has a great video and checklist that walk you through how to use the system right away. You won't feel overwhelmed to jump in and try it because you can see exactly how to use it.
freezer cooking meal plan

After you've watched the video and gone over the getting started checklist, you're ready to print your first meal plan. The September meal plans were out when we first received our membership. (The October meal plans are out now.) So I looked through all eight plans and saw some I really liked. 

freezer meal plans

freezer meal plans


But, I decided to build my own plan.

freezer cooking plans


When you build your own plan, you can choose from a variety of recipe categories.
  • Chicken recipes
  • Slow-cooker recipes
  • Ground beef recipes
  • Dutch-oven or saucepan recipes
  • Gluten-free recipes
  • Other beef recipes
  • Baked recipes
  • Dairy-free recipes
  • Pork Chop recipes
  • Gluten-dairy-soy free recipes
  • Skillet recipes
  • Other pork recipes
  • Grilled recipes
  • Paleo/Whole 30 recipes
  • Seafood recipes
  • Vegetarian recipes
  • One-dish meals
  • Top 8 allergy free recipes
As you look through the recipes in these categories, you can drag and drop them into your recipe section. The recipes are automatically set at four servings, but you can adjust them to two, six, or eight also.
freezer cooking plans

If you see a recipe that looks interesting and want to know the details, you can click on it. From that screen, you can also change the serving size and click the plus sign to add the recipe.

freezer meal plan

You'll choose five recipes to fill up your recipe section. Five recipes will make ten meals because each meal plan includes two of each recipe. 

Having only ten recipes to make at a time was another awesome feature of this freezer planning system. It didn't take me all day to set up, cook, and clean up. It only took about two hours start to finish- and that included fully cleaning the kitchen afterwards.

Once your meal plan is set, you're going to print it. When you print your meal plan, you get a variety of pages.
  • A cover sheet details the recipes you'll find inside as well as the other contents
  • Five recipes give step-by-step instructions for preparing each meal- from scratch or from frozen- This feature was great because on the afternoons I did meal prep, I cooked one of my ten meals as I was prepping and freezing the others. This left us with nine freezer meals and dinner for the evening. And it was a good use of my kitchen time because I was already in the kitchen for freezer meal prep. Why not make supper?
  • A complete shopping list by store section- This makes it really easy when I'm walking through the store to make sure I don't forget anything.
  • A complete shopping list by recipe- Why two lists? On my first meal plan store trip, I decided chicken was too expensive to buy the amount listed. So I looked through the items by recipe and decided which chicken recipe to eliminate for the time being. Then I could make sure I didn't buy the other ingredients for that recipe.
  • Freezer meal prep day shopping list by recipe- This list shows you exactly what you need to sit out on the counter to have ready.
  • Freezer meal prep day shopping list by store section- Did you forget any last minute items? Send your son to the store for them, and this list will help him know where to look.
  • A page with meal assembly and pre-cook/chop instructions- These are the things you need to get ready before you're actually ready to load up your meals into your bags and pans.
  • An assembly by recipe section- This section guides you through exactly what you need to put in to each bag or foil pan.
The whole system is so detailed and laid out that even I- who had never done this before- could figure it out.

freezer meal planning system

After I had everything printed out and my ingredients purchased, I planned an afternoon and began cooking. I read my assembly prep list and laid out all the things I needed.

freezer meal prep system

freezer meal plans

I began with the prep steps. For my first meal plan, the prep mostly consisted of browning meat and boiling pasta. By my second meal plan, I had wised up a little, and, although there was more prep- squeezing limes and cutting up carrots and potatoes- I put my younger girls to work with the prep and finished this step much more quickly.

prepping freezer meals

Some of the meals are stored in the freezer in bags and some are in foil pans. The instructions tell you exactly what to use. There are printable labels for your meals as well with the name of the meal and the date. I used these on the foil pan meals, but for the freezer bags, I just wrote the information.

labling freezer meals

prepped freezer meal

As I prepped the first set of meals, I cooked one of the Chicken and Broccoli Alfredo Bake meals. The big test was going to come when the family tried it. Often there are sides suggested to go with each meal. Of course, you can always just make your own out of what you have. We put a side salad with this one and were ready to go.

freezer meal cooking

I was not disappointed. It was a huge hit. In fact...since that first meal, everything I've made has been pretty widely approved. That is saying lots for my family!

I'm a convert, ya'll. I love the fact that I can grab something out of the freezer to thaw for the next day or pop it in warm water for twenty minutes or so and have supper on the way. I love the slow cooker meals. I thaw them the night before, stick them in the slow cooker the next morning as we get started with school, and Voila!, supper is done by 9am. It's the closest thing possible to having my meal plan cook supper for me.

If you're looking for a way to make dinnertime easier and you're tired of being afraid of that dreaded question, "What's for dinner, Mom?" check out what the other Crew members thought and then try it for yourself.

MyFreezEasy.com Freezer Meal Plan Membership {MyFreezEasy}

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2 comments:

  1. Leah--loved reading about your experiences! MyFreezEasy is honestly transformational!

    ReplyDelete

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