Archives For family time

What’s For Dinner? e-Mealz!

Heather —  October 20, 2011

Greek Style Pizza was a big hit

So, what’s for dinner?

Do you dread hearing that?

I do. But, while cold cereal actually sounds good to me some nights, I know that is not the best plan for my family!

For years now, we have done family style sit down meals each night. Sometimes children come and go for these, but I try to keep at least that part of the day stable for us all. I am proud of that. On the other hand, I am not always proud of what I put on the table and I can often overspend grabbing last minute parts of meals.

I have heard about menu planning, but between homeschool planning and homekeeping planning and actually having fun (I didn’t count cooking in that category) well, you get the picture…

Sometimes my planning and meals are fantastic, while other weeks, it is a disaster, marked by frequent pasta mixed with something dinners.

And, as we have some special dietary needs, namely, eating organic for everyone and Gluten-free (GF) for me, I figured trying to use someone else’s meal planning was just another step I really did not need to focus on my meal plans.

I was wrong yet again. Enter e-Meals.
Emealz - Easy Meals for Busy People!

When I received the word that I would be doing a review for e-Meals, I was a bit concerned it would be a disaster. I saw that although they have over 20 meal plans to choose from, they did not currently have an organic plan. I also saw that I would be able to make only one change in meal plans during my subscription so I needed to choose my particular type of menu plan carefully.

Now just choosing organic over regular at the grocery store is not difficult, but it can be pricy, so this is a bit of an issue for me. In the past, I’d work hard to choose what was on sale and then figure out what to do with it. While that sounds good, I often ended up with rotten vegetables that I never figured out what to do with…or my intentions were to make a super complicated dinner I did not get done. Either way, I ended up feeling guilty.

And for the GF, I am slowly moving the whole family into eating more and more GF meals, but really, it is just me that really needs that.

Now, I also have moved away from using much red meat at all, but we are not totally vegetarian. I like chicken especially for dinners.

So, with these three main things in mind, I first chose the Gluten-Free menu plan from e-Mealz.

I absolutely loved using it.

I respect the founders and their vision, which is to gather family for dinners and relationship. A worthy endeavor!

Still, especially for working mothers, such an undertaking.

I do believe if you use e-Meals exactly as shown, it is very simple and well worth the extremely reasonable cost. Apparently, lots of people agree, because they have a community of over 150,000 members.

Did I use it exactly how you are supposed to? No. That would be too easy, right? Haha. Currently, I am feeding myself, one husband, three teenagers and one child. I went ahead and printed out the two GF menus that were available on PDF on their site. A current week and one past week are available to copy/print.

I then chose the meals I thought everyone would like best and went to Whole Foods and basically bought 7 dinners, some breakfast stuff and a bit of lunch stuff. Altogether, this was about $120.

I messed with the plans. Ideally, you can just print & go, with the itemized shopping list organized for the store

Now, I know some people would gasp at that price, but this is good for our family, for all organic, not bulk prices.

And, when I did not have to run to the grocery stores, grabbing last minute extras—well, that saves a ton of money.

In fact, our first week was fabulous. We had great dinners and all the pieces were in the fridge. So relaxing!

I actually even got sick, and my husband was able to make a delicious meal in the crockpot for us! (It was like having my mom take care of me, foodwise!)


So, the next week, I got more adventurous and matched up the meals I wanted and local coupons and did even better . Again, dinners were new and different…and a giant hit.

A super healthy sauce mimics alfredo:)

I started to enjoy cooking again! (I even had brain power left over to plan a few deserts).

One thing I didn’t love for us about the GF menu was the amount of red meat recipes. So, I decided to be daring and use our one meal menu change to change to the vegetarian menu plan.

Honestly, if I hadn’t done it, I would have been curious forever, but I was sorry. The vegetarian plan was just so different for me. So many, well…vegetables.  Even Tofu. Still, we found a few recipes we liked which I never would have tried otherwise and I learned how to cook some new things. I added real bacon and chicken to some meatless dishes.

I plan to go back to the GF menu plan asap. And, I plan to stick with using this. After several weeks using this, we have saved money and enjoyed nutritious and fun meals. I am more relaxed about dinner plans and have found extra time to plan some deserts. It just really is helping with the planning.  Even buying more new foods and adding in the $5.00 per month for the ability to download the menus and plans, I am saving money each month.

My husband even asked me to continue:)

Bottom line:

At $15 for three months, this is a real value and a nice experience!

  1. Choose a plan: Choose from more than 20 plans based on grocery store chains, dietary choices and family size.
  2. Print out your list and shop: Print out your list with 7 preplanned meals and matching shopping list
  3. Cook & Enjoy

Go take a look for yourself at, you can also find them on facebook and they have a great blog as well.

See what my crewmates have to say about e-Mealz.


I received a 3 mth. membership to e-mealz through the TOS Crew for review purposes. I have given my honest opinion.





Heather —  July 3, 2011
Remember when Summer was just plain fun?

Remember when Summer was just plain fun?

What is your immediate reaction to the word Summer?

My Big Brother took me to the Waterpark!

My Big Brother took me to the Waterpark!

I remember when the word Summer meant relaxing, playing outside, eating extra barbeque… As a Mom, though, this Summer has meant driving, cooking, cleaning…extra needs! I may just let the house go crazy dirty while I attempt to have a bit of fun myself.

How do you have fun? Are you in a family that takes a scheduled vacation? We have never had one of those. I just may plan one for next year. I’m ready.

Still, the kids seem to be having fun, although having jobs isn’t as much fun as they expected, haha! I suppose it’s no surprise that our youngest, Em, is the one having the most fun around here. Having three older brothers (two of whom work at a water park) and an older sister always gives you someone to play with.

Em's other big brother Lifeguarding her!!

Em's other big brother Lifeguarding her!!

for the thrill of it...

for the thrill of it...

learning new skills...

learning new skills...

Getting tired out!

Getting tired out!

I still think my favorite part of Summer is lazing around reading…I call it Siesta for the kids. I will go ahead and set the timer for one hour. During that hour, whoever is home needs to rest and read. It is wonderful.

a new favorite photo of mine!

a new favorite photo of mine!

Tomorrow for the Fourth, we will be up in the Shenandoah National Park. I’m hoping for good weather and energetic children (& parents). What are you up to? Whatever it may be, enjoy like a kid!

The Cheerios Life…

Heather —  October 25, 2010

School, ballet, driving practice, soccer, Friday nights, clean clothes, plays…life at the speed of kids.

As a mom, I have dreams of parenting perfection. In these dreams, I’ll make whole grain pancakes with fresh squeezed orange juice at the crack of dawn, do amazing science experiments that are messy and you can eat. I’ll make it to every meet and bring cupcakes, I’ll want to listen to their day at midnight, I won’t scream when they veer ever so slightly towards the center line…

Of course, I wake up. But really, I have sweet kids. They don’t require all those things.

Some days, the most my kids really ask for is a chauffeur and some good food.

And, deep down I know that what they mostly want is a bit of attention. They want to know that they are important players in our family, in the world.

And what really nurtures a child?

Over the years I have grown as a parent. I started out a young working mom. I remember a lot of rushing around, grabbing fast food and coveting that elusive “quality” time. I regret that I was too busy to nurture they way I had been nurtured…

But, things work out. My oldest is one of my absolute favorite people and is apparently just fine in spite of me.

Now, I’m a stay at home, homeschooling mom. My younger children have tons of time with me and it is fun and a blessing to me (and hopefully to them!)

But, although I have quantity AND quality time now, sometimes I do not hear. Sometimes I get all caught up in my “nurturing” plans and goals and, yes, forget to notice my kids’ thoughts and dreams.

A while ago, my youngest wanted to try and make a fruit smoothie from a recipe she found in a library book. Easy enough, right? The recipe was simple, but called for a few ingredients I didn’t have. I agreed we would do the recipe “when I had time”.

You probably know what happened then. Of course, I never had time to do this recipe that was not important to me. That same week, I made some fantastic stuff, including homemade pumpkin chocolate chip muffins and cookies—Emma even helped me make those.

But I was too busy to get the strawberries for Em’s smoothie that week.

We went hiking in the Shenandoah Valley.

We went to a Fall Festival. We painted pumpkins.

But I was too busy to get the frozen limeade for Em’s smoothie that week.

We went to the Farmer’s Market, we made awesome bird feeders out of pine cones and peanut butter (that was so easy and a hit–you can see the video below)

On Friday night, I heard Emma tell her oldest brother and his girlfriend about her smoothie recipe.

On Saturday, feeling a bit guilty, I bought those two simple ingredients…but I actually was truly too busy to pull out the blender and let her make her recipe.

On Sunday night, Emma and her brother and her brother’s girlfriend made Strawberry Limeade Smoothies.

That was one happy and proud little girl as she sipped her smoothie to accolades from her family. The smoothie was delicious…and so was the smile on her face.

She worked too hard for that smoothie.

I did not hear her about that silly smoothie.

So after 23 years of parenting….I sure do not have it all figured out.

But, it seems to me that even the smallest little steps do matter. Providing books and new experiences, listening to what excites them, figuring out what develops them and then doing that extra thing…whether it is making a smoothie or planning a trip to the Smithsonian.

Helping them accomplish something important to them…because we are Mom.

We may take away the sugar and the car keys…but we are always their biggest advocates and fans!

So, what is that one thing that your kid really wants to do?

Cheerios Blogger CircleI’m a Cheerios Mom!

Spring Notes…

Heather —  April 12, 2010

So far, April has been a whirlwind of…Spring Breaking and  Easter Celebrating! Sports Starting Up. Spring Cleaning. Getting review products that make me totally change my household…(going organic is on the menu)

I am sitting here watching as my mountains turn green almost overnight. This is my first Spring here in the Blueridge Mountains….and …WOW! I am in a tank top,  sunburned (whoops) wishing I was one of those people who actually can function on lack of sleep–because there are soooo many good things to do!

Well, today I am taking a deep breath and getting some planning and reviewing done…but missing family–thanks, Mom & Dad for a fun Easter!

I have several reviews and giveaways to do…a ballerina birthday coming up…

What good things do y’all have on your agenda?