My grandmother always used yeast cakes, but she was a real, old-fashioned cook, and that was what her mother had used.
I like the packets too, or get it in a jar. I store my yeast in the fridge, too, and that seems to make it last for a good long while.
I remember you always knew it was holiday time at my house when I was little because my mom would buy yeast packets at the store. She was going to make her homemade rolls. She always checked the date too, and reminds me to do it every time I mention buying yeast. So I was thoroughly indoctrinated.