~ Review

About a year ago I was getting ready for a major surgery on my foot. I knew that I would be in the hospital for a few days and that I wouldn’t be able to cook for a while once I got home. Since I am allergic to corn, and it is in just about everything, I knew that I needed to do something to make sure I would have something to eat during my recovery. I couldn’t depend on a TV dinner or a can of soup because the majority of them contain corn products. In the end I decided to make a bunch of meals ahead of time and freeze them. It was a lot of work to find recipes that would freeze well and would work for our family, but having the meals ready to go made our life a lot easier.

We ended up with a few favorite meals that I still try to make ahead and keep in the freezer for days when I am hurting too badly to cook. Unfortunately, we also ended up throwing away too much food because some foods just don’t freeze well. I was in the middle of trying to find new freezer recipes to try when we were given the chance to review an amazing product that I thought would be perfect for our family. We were given the chance to review the Freezer Meal Plan Membership from MyFreezEasy. We received an annual subscription.

Fill Your Freezer with homemade meals!

What is is an online subscription based product that helps you to quickly and easily find recipes to make ahead and put in your freezer. The process is simple!

First you decide on a plan that fits your family. Freezer Meal Plan Membership {MyFreezEasy}
There are enough options to satisfy the majority of families. You can pick from meal plans that change monthly including:

  • Traditional Meal Plan – This includes a variety of different meats and cooking methods.
  • Gluten-Free Meal Plan
  • Slow Cooker Meal Plan
  • Clean Eats Meal Plan
  • 20 Meals Plan – This has 10 different meals that are each made twice.
  • All Chicken Meals Plan
  • All Ground Beef Meals Plan
  • All Pork Chop Meals Plan
  • Or a Build a Menu Meal Plan – This lets you pick a total of five meals from any of the meal categories.

Most of the meal plans have five different meals that you will double giving you a total of ten meals to put in your freezer. Freezer Meal Plan Membership {MyFreezEasy}
Once you select the meal plan that fits your family, you decide how many servings of each meal you want to make. Then you simply save the meal plan to your computer and print it off. You can also print labels for each of the meals.

For each recipe in the plan you are given directions for making a single meal and the assembly and preparation directions for how to make two of the meals. You are also given a shopping list for each recipe individually and a master shopping list that includes everything you will need to make all ten or twenty meals. The shopping list is even divided by the sections of the grocery store. One spot has all of the spices you will need while another section lists all of the canned or boxed goods. The process should make for a simple shopping experience. Freezer Meal Plan Membership {MyFreezEasy}
Then you simply return home, batch cook the meals, and freeze them. The result is a freezer full of home cooked meals that you can pull out and make with little effort on busy days.

How We Used

When we were first given access to the website I began looking through the different meal plans. None of the premade meal plans were a good fit for our family so I decided to make one of our own. After looking through dozens of recipes I was quickly discouraged. While the site has a lot of different meals I found a lot of them to be very similar. There were also a lot that required things like Alfredo sauce or cream soups. I have to make my own Alfredo Sauce and cream soup base from scratch, and they don’t freeze well so instantly a lot of the meals wouldn’t work for our family. After looking over the different recipes I found 8 that sounded like they would be something we would like and something I wouldn’t have to make too many changes to.

The process of making the meal plan was easy once I decided on the recipes that I wanted to make.  I selected the meals, put in the number of servings, and printed off the lists. I wasn’t sure how big the servings would be so I decided to opt for more than I needed to make sure there would be enough. The serving sizes are actually quite large and in the future I will be able to make less and still fill up our family.

After I printed off the shopping list, I had someone take me to the store and came home ready to cook. The meals I decided to make were: 5 Ingredient Chili, Slow Cooker Chili Mac, Lightened Up Chicken Parmesan, Slow Cooker Butter Chicken, and Ranch Chicken and Baby Potato Bake.

When I got home I made up the chili, chili mac, and the butter chicken. But when I went to make the chicken Parmesan I found out that I didn’t have bread crumbs and they were not on the shopping list that was generated. I was a little irritated because I can’t drive and it isn’t always easy to have someone take me to the store. Since I didn’t have bread crumbs I couldn’t make that recipe. Then when I went to make the other recipe I realized I didn’t have bacon, and it wasn’t on my list either.

I decided the three meals would be enough to start with. We tried the chili first. It was ok, but we needed to make some changes to fit our taste. It is a recipe we will make again in the future. Next we tried the chili mac. It was a meal I was looking forward to. The first time I cooked it like the directions said and the macaroni was way over cooked. It was a starchy mess that we had to throw away. The next time I only let it cook part of the time and didn’t add in all of the macaroni. It was dry and again it had to be thrown away. I thought for sure that we would like the butter chicken. But we didn’t.

What We Thought

I love the idea of Cooking ahead and having meals ready to throw in the oven or the slow cooker makes dinner time go a lot smother. Unfortunately, because of food allergies that limit what we can eat and a somewhat picky family, a lot of the meals won’t work for our family. We plan to make more meals form in the future, but we won’t be freezing any of them until we try them out and like them first. My grocery budget can’t handle throwing away food.

I loved how easy the site was to use. The way the shopping list was set up made for an organized trip to the store, but they need to find a way to make sure all of the ingredients end up on the shopping list. There were also errors in a few of the recipes making it hard to know how much spices needed to be added.

Between the lists, helpful videos, and labels, this really is a great way to get started in freezer cooking. If you don’t have a lot of food restrictions and have family who is willing to try new dinners, this is a good product to try.

Find out what other members of the Homeschool Review Crew had to say about by clicking on the graphic below. Freezer Meal Plan Membership {MyFreezEasy}
Crew Disclaimer

Trying New Foods – Eggplant

One of our New Year’s resolutions was to try a new fruit and vegetable every month. For the month of January (yeah I am a little behind) we decided to try eggplant. Why did we decide to pick eggplant? It was on sale for .79 each, and being on a very limited budget we went with the cheapest thing we could find.

Eggplant - Trying New Foods

We bought the eggplant and then tried to figure out what to do with it. We watched a few videos on YouTube to try and figure out how to cook it and then we headed over to Pinterest to try and find a good recipe. I wanted something other than Eggplant Parmesan.

After looking at a few different recipes, we decided to try The Best Eggplant Patties . It sounded good and simple. So we pealed and sliced the eggplant and then cooked it how the recipe said. It was actually really easy. When they were all finished cooking, we tried them.  I loved it! AJ and my mom both thought they were ok, but they waited too long to eat them and they started to get soggy.

Eggplant patties

Although the recipe turned out great, the idea behind trying new fruit and vegetables was to find healthy items to add to our diet. This recipe called for quite a bit of cheese and involved frying them. They were far from healthy.

So we picked up another eggplant and decided to try roasted eggplant. We just drizzled it with olive oil, added a little seasoning,  and stuck it in the oven. I didn’t care for it, but AJ loved it.

The big question……. Will we eat eggplant again? Yes! Even though I didn’t care for it roasted, I plan to experiment with it some more.

In January we tried eggplant and grapefruit. Grapefruit has already been purchased a few more times for AJ, I can’t wait to see what other fruits and vegetables we come across. In February we tried Jicama and cactus pears. I will be sharing what we thought about those soon.

What is your favorite eggplant recipe?

Fruit of the Month – January

One of our goals for the new year was to try a new fruit and vegetable every month. How are we picking which new thing to try? It is simple, I am going by price. We are on a limited budget so we are going to try new produce based on the deals I find.

This month’s fruit was grapefruit. They are readily available and actually fairly inexpensive, but neither of us had tried one before. My mom hates grapefruit and now a few of her medications don’t allow her to eat it, so we were on our own for this one.

Growing up our fruit mainly consisted of; apples, bananas, oranges, and berries. AJ loves almost every fruit and vegetable she has tried so I think this goal will be a fun way to branch out and try new things.

I picked up two grapefruits (they were only .20 each) and then a fruit cup in natural juice.

First we tried the fruit cup.

AJ liked it and I couldn’t stand it. Even though it was all natural it had a fake flavor to me.

Then it was time for the fresh grapefruit. Since I didn’t like the pre cut grapefruit, we decided to share one grapefruit. AJ loved it. I thought it was ok, but way too sour.

I decided to try it with a little sugar. It was edible, but the point of trying new fruits and vegetables is to eat healthier. I don’t really see the point of eating a fruit that I need to add sugar to.

Overall, AJ really liked the grapefruit and asked me to buy it again. We agreed that the fresh fruit was a lot better than the packaged, and it is cheaper too. Our first new fruit went well and I can’t wait to see which new fruit will be on sale next month.

First Day January 2015

Today I am linking up with Nicole at Journey to Josie  for the First Day link up. On the first of each month you take pictures to document your day.

This is my first time participating, and I didn’t learn about it until mid morning on the first, so there are not as many pictures as there will be in future posts.

Our day was slow and lazy on the first. We stayed up late the night before and enjoyed sleeping in. When we woke up I made homemade hash browns, bacon, and eggs. It was a great breakfast.

Then I worked on the computer while AJ watched the Rose Parade.

After the parade AJ decided to work on her new MobyMax tablet and write a story. The entire couch is available, but she still sits on the floor. Sometimes she surprises me.
It was getting close to lunch so AJ made a grilled cheese and kale sandwich and I made kale chips. We tried kale for the first time in December, and we love it!
We just relaxed around the house a while until we went to the store. 
When we got back from the store we made one of the smoothies in the book AJ received for Christmas, Body and Soul. It was pretty good, but the cucumber overpowered it. 
Later that day we had ham and scalloped potatoes for dinner. Then we cleaned up and went to bed. It wasn’t a very exciting day but it was relaxing.

The Week Before Christmas

I love Christmas, but this year it just doesn’t seem like Christmas. The house is decorated, we have been watching Christmas movies, and singing Christmas songs, but something just doesn’t seem right. I am hoping that in the next few days I get my Christmas spirit back.

We haven’t done a lot of our traditional Christmas activities because of my pain, my mom’s surgeries, and a lack of money, but we have done a few fun things.

We finally tried out AJ’s fortune cookie maker that she received two years ago for Christmas. It is one of those gifts that requires adult supervision and time, so we put it in her closet and forgot about it until a few weeks ago.

If you are thinking about purchasing one, don’t! They are a lot of work. The dough is hard to work with, and rolling the cookies out is pretty difficult. Then the machine didn’t put them together, so we had to do it all by hand. After about a half hour she made 3 cookies and then waited for them to dry.

She decorated them, but I didn’t get a picture because she ate them before I knew she was finished. She said they tasted good and she had fun, but I think whipping up a batch of regular cookies would have been so much better.

In school we have put science and history on hold and are just focusing on Math and Language arts for the rest of the year. We are currently reading A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. I purchased a lap book to go with it from Hands of a Child since I usually love their lapbooks, but I am a little disappointed in this one. It has great reviews, but it is not one of their best lapbooks. My main complaint was that it has a few mini books that ask questions that are not answered anywhere in the book or in the printable text. It was a little frustrating but we are making it work. AJ is really enjoying reading the book and has been noticing the differences between the book and the many movies we have watched.

Outside of school we have been baking cookies to get ready for Christmas. I love baking and cooking, but I think I am the sloppiest cook in the world! Just look at the table after a batch of sugar cookies.

At least they taste good. Over the next few days we plan on making a lot more cookies.
This week we had two doctor appointments and one trip to the emergency room, thankfully everyone is doing okay at the moment. The emergency room staff recognizes us now since we have been in so often in the last few months. We are praying that everyone stays healthy enough that we don’t have to go back for a while.

The best part of our week was when my best friend came over and we decorated gingerbread houses.

Decorating gingerbread houses has been a tradition for about six years. My mom, AJ, and I use to decorate them with my mom’s best friend, Barbara. Unfortunately, Barbara passed away from cancer in 2012. Since then we have been decorating gingerbread houses with my friend Desiree. It is something we look forward to all year.

The houses came out nicely. AJ’s looked nice in the beginning, but then she went crazy with the frosting and messed it up. She did the same thing last year….. but at least she had fun.

I am not ready for Christmas yet so I will be doing a lot of last minute things. Are you ready for Christmas?

Bean Porridge

One of our favorite parts of the Prairie Primer is that the learning is hands on. In the book, Little House on the Prairie, Laura and Mary play “Bean Porridge” by singing the song below and keeping time with their hands.


Bean porridge hot.
Bean porridge cold.
Bean porridge in the pot nine days old.
Some like it hot.
Some like it cold.
Some like it in the pot nine days old.
I like it hot.
I like it cold.
I like it in the pot nine days old!

What would be more fitting than making our own bean porridge? After gathering all of the materials AJ did all of the work herself.

First she soaked the beans overnight.

Then she poured the beans into the colander.

She rinsed the beans.

She cut up the celery, garlic, and carrots. It was so hard not to help with this part…..I think it took close to an hour for her to cut everything up.

Then came the hard part, cutting up the onion. This was her solution.

After everything was finally cut up she put the ham bone in the crock-pot and added the beans, vegetables, seasoning, and water.

After waiting about 6 hours, the bean porridge was finished.

She did all of the work and was so proud of herself when we all sat down to eat dinner. The verdict…… we like it hot, we don’t like it cold, and it didn’t last to be nine days old. In all honestly it came out very tasty and since she originally made it we have made it two more times because it was so good.  It was also fairly cheep and easy to make.

I am linking up with Ben and Me and


Cooking With Kids Round Up

We made Cheese!

We have had the amazing opportunity to do a lot of great projects while working our way through the Prairie Primer. We were even able to make cheese.

It was surprisingly an easy task. It only required three easy ingredients and a lot of patients. It takes one quart of whole milk, 3-5 tablespoons of vinegar, and a teaspoon of salt. (recipe is an adapted version from the Prairie Primer Binder Builder and the Little House Cook Book)

First you bring the milk to a simmer and remove it from the heat just before it starts to boil.

Then add the salt and vinegar.

Stir slowly for about 5 minutes. Curds will start to form.

Create a strainer out of cheese cloth and pour the mixture through the cheesecloth. The curds will stay on top of the cheese cloth and the whey will be in the container.

Put the whey into the refrigerator to use later or discard it. (We fed it to our dogs and they loved it)

Scoop the curds out of the cheesecloth and squeeze out the excess whey.

Continue squeezing out the whey until the cheese becomes a solid.

Then wrap in cheesecloth and place it in the fridge with something heavy on it to press out the whey. We started with the jelly jar then added some large rocks and left it over night.

Store in the fridge.

We had a lot of fun making the cheese but I was surprised with how little cheese it actually made. After looking online though, I found out that our results were normal. We put 4 TBS of vinegar and after tasting it I think 3 would have been plenty. It also needed a great deal more salt. When we tasted the cheese right after making it, the vinegar was about all we tasted. It has been about two weeks since we made the cheese, and the vinegar taste is almost all gone. It is farmers cheese so it is fairly soft and spreadable. If we make it again we will use less vinegar, more salt, and probably add something else to it for flavor.

Cheese is definitely one thing that we are glad that we can purchase at the store.

We are linking up with Ben and Me for Blogging through the Alphabet.

Owl Cookies

To go along with our owl study we made owl cookies. I found the idea on Facebook and as soon as I saw it I knew we were going to try it out. You can find the recipe here.

Basically you make a large batch of peanut butter cookie dough. Then you take a third of the dough and add coco to it. You put the chocolate dough on top of the regular dough and then roll it into a log. Then you slice the cookies and decorate your owl.

You take 2 cookie slices and put them together so that the ends are pushed together and make the face of the owl. Then you use a cashew for the beak, cream cheese for the whites of the eyes, and chocolate chips for the eyes.

The cookies turned out very cute, but they didn’t taste very good. To be fair it was the first time I have ever made log cookies and I had a hard time getting the dough to stay together. The dough tasted like it had too much flour in it and they kept falling apart when we were slicing them. I also had to change to recipe to make it corn free. (Baking powder has corn) If I was going to make them again I would just use my own cookie recipe and then decorate them the same way.

AJ had a great time making the cookies. I think they made a great end to our study of owls.

Molasses Candy and Maple Syrup

We have been making our way through the Prairie Primer and learning so many things. Last week we watched Old Yeller and started to listen to the book on CD. We finished up our in depth study of Louis Pasteur, and learned about rabies. She also worked on her owl lap book some more. If everything works out she will dissect an owl pellet this week.

Throughout Little House in the Big Woods there is a lot of figurative language used and that was a topic that we learned about this week. Figurative language is a hard thing for AJ to grasp because she is such a literal thinker, but each time we go over it she seems to understand a little bit more. She can tell the difference between a simile and a metaphor, but has trouble making them up on her own. After watching the video above and a few others we played a game of making up silly similes and metaphors. She had fun and it got her out of her literal way of thinking. AJ then worked on dictionary skills and wrote a poem about Laura. She also did some cause and effect and sequencing worksheets. This week was a little heavy on writing so AJ didn’t complete any work in her Writing Strands book.

For Bible we have read and discussed a lot of Bible verses and talked about jealousy, mercy, and fear. This week we also went back to our regular math program and started back up with spelling.

One fun project that we did was making molasses candy. It was one of the first recipes in the book that didn’t contain corn so I was able to help make it and taste it. (I am allergic to corn) It was very easy to make. AJ measured out brown sugar and molasses and cooked it over the stove until it was at the right consistency. Then she dropped the candy over crushed ice. The recipe called for snow but it doesn’t snow where we live. I think it would have been better over snow and a lot less of a mess, but the overall idea came out well.

The candy started to stick to the ice in some places and melt the ice in others. It was a sticky mess to clean up but AJ had fun and it was a good learning experience. We both tasted the candy and it was actually pretty good. No where near as good as the candy we have today but something we would possibly try again if we had snow or shaved ice.
She also learned all about maple syrup. We read a book called, From Maple Tree to Syrup. The book was a little too easy for AJ, but it explained the process of how the sap becomes syrup very well. I decided to make a worksheet for AJ to complete that compared pure maple syrup to pancake syrup. It compares calories, price, and ingredients. It is the first worksheet that I have ever made, and you are welcome use it. Click to download the worksheet.
Overall we had a good but busy week. She worked hard and learned a lot. AJ had her first gymnastic meet of the season on Sunday. I will write about that in another post.
This post is being added to the School House Review Crew’s Round up of Free Printables. Click the graphic below to see even more free printable resources!

Free Printables Round-Upl

Pop Tarts are Healthy?

The other day when we went shopping AJ declared like she does a lot of the time, “I am going to stop eating junk food and eat healthy foods only.” She actually eats fairly healthy and loves fruits and vegetables. She loves candy and sweets though and would eat them all the time if I let her. As we were shopping she handed me this box of Pop Tarts and said, “These are healthy, will you buy them for me?” I laughed so hard. Then I asked her why she thought that a pop tart was healthy. She went on to tell me how it was made of real fruit so that meant it was healthy.

Indeed the box did say it was baked with Real Fruit. That statement of course was followed by an *. So I took that moment to explain the meaning of the little sign. We then looked all over the box and finally found out that the filling is made with equal to 10 % fruit.

We then looked at the long list of ingredients which included corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, and sugar. Then we looked at the nutrition facts and learned that for just 1 pop tart it was 38g of carbohydrates, 200 calories, and 16g of sugar.

After reading the box completely I asked her if she still thought the Pop Tarts were healthy. Her response was, “No, but the box made it look like it at first.”

We went on to talk about how in advertising they put what they think you want to know in big writing and make sure it is visible. Where the information they hope you skim over or that they don’t wish to advertise they put in smaller writing and make you look for it.

I love those times when life gives us the chance to learn about something that I hadn’t even thought about.