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Oct 12, 2016

MyFreezEasy A Homeschool Crew Review

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MyFreezEasy was developed by Erin Chase of $5 Dinners.  I've been following her off and on for several years.  Micah has wanted me to get involved in freezer cooking and meal planning for a long time.  I've tried a few times, but I am way too slow and busy to do one of those marathon cooking sessions that leaves you with a month of meals in the freezer, but takes all day long.  With Freezer Meal Plan Membership I can have ten meals in the freezer in a couple of hours. 

Premium membership allows access to all eight meal plans each month.  By making two full meals of each of the five recipes, I'm able to fill up my freezer in a very short time.  I can also swap out any meals from a growing database of archived meals.  Many of the recipes are or can be made dairy or gluten free.  In fact, one of the meal plans is all gluten free meals.  The eight plans available are
  • traditional,
  • gluten free,
  • all pork,
  • all chicken,
  • all ground beef,
  • clean eats,
  • slow cooker, 
  • and the 20 meals plan.

The 20 meals plan is just what you'd imagine.  You still make two of each meal, but it includes ten recipes.  The all meat plans are exactly that.  Purchase whichever meats are on sale and save money on your grocery budget.  I've shopped several times for meals since joining MyFreezEasy, and sometimes it feels like I've over spent.  I never exceeded my budget for the month and still have many, many more meals put away.  It definitely has brought value to my shopping.

After selecting my meals, or just downloading one of the plans with no alterations, I now have a document which includes complete recipes for preparing a meal for that night or for freezing all the meals, shopping lists arranged by store location (dairy, meat, produce, etc) or by recipe.  The list even includes the type of containers needed to store the meals in the freezer.  I also can quickly locate sheets that tell me what to set aside for each recipe on prep day.  On prep day, there is another sheet that tells me what to cook, chop, or open before meal assembly.  The last page(s) have each meal laid out with exactly what goes in the freezer bags or foil pans for each individual meal.

All of these instructions are for making two meals of four servings each.  Serving quantities can be adjusted before you download the paperwork.  I actually leave the servings at four, but divide the meals in half, or less often, thirds.  That way I still have the quantities on my shopping list for 8 servings, but I'm putting smaller amounts into each container and I end up with even more meals in the freezer.  Even with putting the equivalent of two servings in each bag or pan, we've found it is more than enough for the two of us for dinner and someone inevitably gets a lunch out of it.

The grocery list is very handy, as long as you don't print it and leave it on the table when you head to the store.  Not that I ever did that!

Some meals are as simple and fast as throwing a few things together; a can of this, a bag of frozen something, and jar of another thing, and throw some cheese on top.  Some recipes require more involved cooking.  All of them have been delicious.  If you have a little one who can use a can opener or shred cheese for you, MyFreezEasy is a great way to spend quality time in the kitchen as well as get some meals in the freezer.  I received compliments on every meal I've made, whether it was just Micah, family we've had over, or meals we've passed on to others.

Left: Enchiladas before cooking. Right: Black bean chili with corn muffins.
I made a few newbie errors the first time I used MyFreezEasyI ended up spending about two and a half hours on a plan I created.  I am meticulous anyway, so that makes me slow. Then I was intentionally using smaller pans for more, small meals. So rather than half in here and half in there, I was weighing every ingredient and pulling out the calculator. Also, because four of the meals were basically hamburger and onions, I cooked EIGHT pounds in a big pan. So then I had to figure the weight of the meat after cooking per recipe to divide into various sized containers. Some meals I made for a friend and some for us. Her meals were bigger than mine because she has a larger family. I was ridiculous about it.

I want to stick to a meal plan that Erin has created, following it exactly, and then the video will coincide with exactly what I'm cooking. I swear I have never used so much pseudo-algebra in my kitchen before!  The other times I've cooked using MyFreezEasy, I reeled myself in a bit and it was much smoother.  Definitely sticking with wholes or halves and not getting all worked up about being so precise!

Things I would like to see on MyFreezEasy:
  1. Nutrition information.  This one could be trickier because everyone is going to actually put together some recipes a bit differently. 
  2. Some "lighter" options, or at least mark any recipes that could be considered lighter.  I don't do "diet foods" because I prefer food that tastes good.  I rarely substitute light, low fat, or reduced calorie items.  So, I'd really appreciate knowing up front if a meal is a bit healthier than others. 
I did have two missing ingredients on one of the customized meal plans when I sorted the shopping list by store section.

The recipes I made included
  • Chicken and Ranch Macaroni - I do not normally put a crumb topping on pasta.  I've just never really cared for it, but this dish was so good and the topping was really lovely.  I didn't actually have a packet of ranch dressing, so I used a bit of Buffalo Chicken and Bleu Cheese dip mix.
  • Five Ingredient Chili - I never actually got to try this one because I passed it on to friends.
  • Bacon and Bleu Cheeseburgers in lettuce wraps - These were amazing in a lettuce wrap or hamburger buns.  The recipe called for serving the burgers with bleu cheese crumbles, but I realized I would need to buy a container of the crumbles each time I served them... and I *may* have made 14 - 1/4 pound burgers!  So I actually put the bleu cheese inside the hamburgers as I made them.  I just formed them like a bowl and wrapped them around the cheese.  Now I only need to make sure I have rolls or lettuce when I want to serve them and I don't have crumbles going to waste in the back of the fridge.
  • Lazy Lasagna Bake - While this could use a bit more sauce, it wasn't dry.  The flavor was so good!  I had never used cottage cheese in lasagna, so I used half cottage cheese and half ricotta.
  • Beef and Black Bean Chili - I added a cup of water because my slow cooker gets pretty hot.
  • Ravioli Bake - Another hit, and the kids even tried this one.  WIN!
  • Black Bean and Corn Enchiladas - This meal was absolutely gorgeous in the bowl and I couldn't resist taking a photo of it which disappeared along with Xavier's first day on the bus photos, somewhere in cyberland.  Just imagine a big white bowl full of black beans, corn, red peppers, green chiles...  It was *very* tasty.
As I made up my list, I kept wanting to write, "This was a favorite," but I would have typed that almost every single time.  I love trying new recipes, but I'm always leery of duds.  This recipes are tested by Erin in her own home and if they aren't great, they don't make it onto MyFreezEasy.

I loved
  • Being able to adjust servings for a recipe. 
  • Having a downloadable/printable grocery list.
  • Seeing videos that walk me through meal prep for the Traditional Meal Plan each month.
  • Chatting with other meal prep women in the Facebook group.
  • Being able to pull a meal out of the freezer or throw an extra together to bless a friend.
  • Removing the freezer fillers (old milk jugs filled with ice) one by one as the space was filled with food.
I got so excited each time I pulled out a jug of ice to make room for ready-made meals.

There's a video near the bottom of the FAQ Page you might like to see.

I hope you know by now that if I rave about something, it's because I *really* like it.  And. yes.  I'm definitely enjoying the satisfaction of having meals put away for us.  I enjoy cooking, but making the same stuff all the time had gotten old.  (I still prepare all the kids' favorites, regularly), but Micah and I get to enjoy something new with a lot of variety.  I can see this becoming a long term way of cooking regularly.  MyFreezEasy has been convenient (now that I have my "meticulous gene" under control!) and a money saver.

There are both monthly and annual memberships.  Make a selection and get started putting up food for those busy days where everyone has appointments and you won't be home to prepare dinner.  You'll save money by not getting take out.  Again.  And the meals are healthier.  You know exactly what's in them because you made them.  Spend the time in the kitchen making memories with your helpers.

Find Erin, FreezEasy, MyFreezEasy, and $5 Dinners on social media.
Pinterest Freezer Meal Plan Membership {MyFreezEasy}

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