“What are some cooking/packing tips for reheat meal-making?”
The main challenge when prepping ahead for Charlie is to retrain my brain to stop cooking before the food is completely “ready to eat.”
Some dishes, like my stewps (That is a soup that is so thick and chunky as to almost be classified as a stew. Apparently, Rachael Ray uses this term too, but I would like it on the record that I thought of it all by myself before I knew that. Ahem.) are better the second day and even better the third and each reheating only improves them. (I’m reasonably sure there’s a limit to how much they improve over time, but I haven’t reached it yet. Because the stewp is always gone by then.)
Other dishes, like pork with garlic green beans or chicken with asparagus, definitively do not get better with multiple reheats, so stopping the prep-day cooking ~3 minutes “too soon” allows for Charlie’s final microwaving to complete the process.
Another fun* thing with prepping dishes where meat is on the side: the meat dries out quickly. To combat this, I’ve started blending the meat dripping with onions and any other veggies cooked with the meat to make a kind of gravy that Charlie can take in a separate container and heat up with the dish to remoisten the meat.
When packing the food, my main concern is simple: will one element of a meal change consistencies in the fridge that will make the rest of the meal soggy? Or will one element need to be heated with the rest staying cold? (See taco salads.) In either case, I pack several separate containers for the same meal. It takes a few more steps for everyone (from packing the meal to packing the lunch bag to cleaning up), but the end result is much more satisfying. #worthit
P.S. I’ve learned the hard way that the snack veggies we pre-chop for Charlie need to be packed carefully to avoid going slimy or fermenting even just over the course of a week. So far my best solution is to put chopped veggies in a single layer in a sealed container on top of a moist paper towel. If you have any tips or tricks in this area, I’d love to hear them.