, I recently made another batch of meals for my in-laws, but I’m struggling with which sides to include with each main. Since I freeze their meals for them, I need to make sure the sides (vegetables, starches) will thaw and reheat well. Are there any ingredients I should avoid when making side dishes, and are there any that work exceptionally well? – Suzanne
Come to think of of it, there is not much I won’t freeze. Potatoes, and other starchy vegetables usually do really well, and I’ll freeze just about any cooked vegetable although there are a few tricks to know about.
Pasta will soak up the sauce over time – which means you could end up with mushy pasta, but hardly any sauce. To avoid this, I usually package the sauce and pasta separately for storage (sometimes I’ll also give the dry pasta a twirl of olive or peanut oil to keep it moist).
I highly recommend cooking any pasta to just al dente (cooked, but still chewy) as well, for texture. The same goes for rice – be careful not to overcook, or it might not hold as well in the freezer.
All other vegetables can change slightly in texture when freezing, but most hold up exceptionally well. My clients tend to eat low carb, and they seem to be very happy with the results for ten successful years now. Again, I stick to al dente with vegetables too, but then you don’t want to cook out all of the nutrients anyhow.
With salad greens, raw vegetables, and dressing – I leave them packaged separately in the refrigerator. When you shop, look at the sell-by dates on the pre-washed greens, and choose the ones that have the longest sell by date. Carrots, celery, and cucumbers hold well in the fridge. I try to buy slightly under ripe avocados and tomatoes if they are not going to be eaten right away. It doesn’t take long to throw together the ingredients and toss with the dressing at dinnertime.
Always remember the key to PCA™ food tasting fresh is in the proper cooling, packaging and timely storage, Don’t leave food in the fridge for five days, and then freeze. You should freeze anything you do not intend to eat in the first few days as soon as it has cooled completely for optimal freshness.
I LOVE how you use your premium membership so wisely! It really isn’t that much extra effort to double the portions, and share with relatives or friends that are in need of a little TLC – or to stretch your cook dates stretch longer for yourselves.
PS. Don’t forget to give the weekly menu plan a whirl, or sign-up for premium membership and reap all of the benefits. What tricks do you have up your sleeve when cooking make-ahead meals? I’d love to hear, so click on “comment” below, and leave your favorite tip!