Gardening Tip ~ Be Prepared for Holiday Leftovers: Mix & Match Meals

2 min to read

Article and photos by Doreen Coyne, a member of Richmond Hill Garden & Horticultural Society

Did you make too much for the holidays?  

It sure happened to me at Christmas and now with the multiple holidays coming this weekend and throughout April, I want to be prepared for the avalanche of leftovers!

Last week we looked at making TV Dinners and this week from the leftovers soon to be in your fridge. I’ve named my leftover technique that I’ll discuss this week, MIX and MATCH meals!

Mix & Match Meals: Although I still make TV dinners, I tend to make more of what I call Mix & Match Meals. That means I freeze each food item I want in a meal separately.  That way, I can mix and match every meal. 

For the meats: When I cook my infamous Thai chicken thighs, I’ll cook 12 to 16 of them!  Then after I eat my initial meal, I freeze 2 of them in each freezer bag as 1 meal for myself. Chicken thighs work well as they don’t tend to dry out as the white meat does. Tonight, I pulled out a package of chicken wings from the freezer for my main.  I had cooked a complete tray of 26 wings originally ensuring they were not overly cooked. I used some for the first dinner and then froze the rest in a small tray from which I took 7 for tonight’s dinner. Simply defrost for 3 minutes at 30% power in the microwave, then put in the toaster oven at 3500F for 10 minutes.

For the vegetables:  I already have multiple vegetables individually frozen from my garden’s harvest last fall so I can take out what I need for 1 meal. Right now, I have 1 large bag each of green beans, broccoli, and cauliflower. My brussel sprouts just didn’t do well enough this year else, I’d have a bag of those on hand as well. I also have about 20 bags of squash for 2 in the freezer, 20 bags of zucchini cut in 3 ways, and 20 or so bags of pasta sauce for 2.  Of course, you can buy bags of frozen veggies if you don’t have a garden. They taste good if frozen and don’t have the added salt found in canned veggies. Since I like mashed potatoes, I can make a lot and freeze them into 1 or 2 meal pouches with my handy-dandy vacuum sealer for freezer usage. Potatoes can take some time to cook so if you have to make them get the water boiling on the stove to boil before you start to peel them. By the time you’ve peeled, the water will be boiling and you are on your way. Be sure to cut the potatoes into smaller pieces, or use those wonderful ‘baby” potatoes by boiling them for 10 to 15 minutes.  Having a bag of French fries, onion rings, or deep-fried zucchini sticks in the freezer is also a good idea for a quick dinner.

Here are some mix and match meals, I might “pull out and heat up” for a quick dinner:

  • Chicken thighs, roasted potatoes, squash
  • Chicken wings, baked wedges (or fries) of potatoes, and some raw veggie sticks.
  • Chicken parmesan, pasta with homemade sauce on it
  • Roast beef, mashed potatoes, zucchini
  • Ham slices, scalloped potatoes, honey glazed carrots
  • A chicken breast, boiled potatoes halved, broccoli, and cauliflower
  • Pasta with homemade sauce then quickly fried hamburger. Mix all together and sprinkle shredded parmesan on top. The list is as long as your imagination!

This list can be as long as your imagination.  Taking some time to sit down and consider what you’d want on your plate at a deli or home, allows those combinations to come to mind.  Then next shopping trip, make sure you buy some of those desired sides and the main course!

Note: This article is part of a series on Freezing Foods. 
Visit  the link Gardening Tips for these and other great ideas