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Cary Woman Cooks Up Meals for Busy Families

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CARY — These days, a home-cooked meal can often give way to take-out, especially for double income families with kids' soccer practices and other daily activities.

While some people see preparing a meal as another task to add to their never-ending list of things to do, Meaghan MacDonald, of Cary, sees this as a business opportunity.

MacDonald, founder of Custom Cuisine, goes to families' homes during the day, prepares a custom-cooked meal for the family, stores it in sealed containers, and then leaves.

"When they come home that night, the place is spotless, the garbage is gone and their freezer is full of food," MacDonald says. "And typically I leave some out for them to enjoy that evening."

Custom Cuisine prepares all kinds of meals for its clients, ranging from the most basic to the somewhat fancy. For example, MacDonald may cook filet of fish divine covered with broccoli and cheese sauce for one family's meal. The same day, she may cook meatloaf and mashed potatoes for another family's dinner.

Most of the clients prefer low fat, healthy meals, but for most of the Christmas meals MacDonald is preparing now, anything goes.

And all the clients have to do is just heat up the food and eat it.

MacDonald says that if prepared just right, the meal can be frozen without causing freezer burn.

After a dish comes out of the oven, MacDonald does not freeze it right away. She uses a fast cool down process to preserve the meal.

"The quicker you cool food down, the fewer water molecules will form inside the food," she says. "When water molecules form inside the food and then you freeze it. That's what causes freezer burn."

Freezing hot food causes condensation and more freezer burn. Done just right, hours of hard work make for many days of easy home cooked dinners.

"You know, families like to sit down and talk about their day at the end of the day, and not sort of be rushed with everything," MacDonald says.

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Rick Armstrong, Reporter
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