Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Meals to Go

     We have been blessed over the past few weeks. Our friends and family have been bringing us meals to help ease the transition into being a family of four. It has been great having a home cooked meal on the table while we were focusing on other things. Now  that our meals have stopped coming, I thought I'd compile a list to help you with ideas for taking meals to people.
     There are many reasons you might want to make a meal for someone. Usually our church provides meals when there is a death, birth, surgery, etc. One tool that our church uses that makes meal-bringing easier is a website called Take Them a Meal. This site lets you add a note about special dietary needs or whatever you need. It also has a place for a map and directions. Each person can sign up and the recipient gets an email notification for each upcoming meal. Another nice feature is that you can see what everyone is bringing. If you are the meal giver, this will help you plan so the receiver won't have a bunch of pasta dishes in a row. If you don't have time to make a meal, you could still help by taking them a gift card or picking up some take-out for them.
     Some thoughts before I begin the list: It's nice to give the recipient everything they will need for the meal, so be sure to include sides. If you send a salad, be sure to include dressing! It's also nice to include dessert or maybe muffins that can be eaten as a snack or breakfast the next day. One person even brought us a frozen dish in addition to the meal they had prepared. Finally, take the meal in disposable containers so the recipient doesn't have to worry about getting your dishes back to you.

The typical "go-to" meal gift is pasta. I think this is because they are pretty easy, reheat well, and generally well-liked. Some simple side ideas to go with a pasta are garlic/french bread, salad (with dressing!), or a bag of frozen steam-able broccoli florets.

stuffed shells
bruschetta pasta
spaghetti marinara or baked ziti
crock pot spaghetti Ask the recipient for their crock and fill it or make it and transfer to disposable dish
spaghetti with homemade sauce
deep dish spaghetti
basil pesto spaghetti
Bowties with Creamy Parmesan Sauce

Comfort Food
Sometimes, especially during transitions, you just want comfort food. It's called "comfort food" because it makes you feel better or reminds you of when you were younger. Some great pairings for comfort food are mashed potatoes, baked beans, corn on the cob, cornbread muffins,  apple pie, or chocolate chip cookies.
Best Ever Mac N' Cheese (with opt. meat and veggies)

Pot Roast
Beer Pepperoncini Pot Roast
Pulled Pork 
Chicken Pot Pie
Indiana Chili
White Bean Chicken Chili
Potato Soup
Mac N' Cheese (with Velveeta)
Baked Mac N' Cheese (with Cheddar)
Best Ever Mac N' Cheese (with Cheddar and Jack)
Hashbrown Casserole
Saucy Meatloaf
Homemade Noodles (add beef, turkey, or chicken if desired)

Build your Own
We received two meals that were in a category all their own: Build your own. Sometimes, things will get soggy if you put it together ahead of time, so it's better to package each thing separately so the recipient can quickly put it together. Make sure, if you do this, that you are sending something that doesn't require much more work than reheating and combining! The point of taking a meal is to help out, not to create a project. Here are some ideas for this category:
Summer Salad

Taco Salad 
Chicken, Mandarin, Feta Salad
Summer Salad
Chicken Caesar Salad w/Crumbles

I'm sure there are lots of ways to classify, but I just want to highlight a couple of recipes that are good recipes to reheat. You can take anything to someone, as long as you can reheat it and it still tastes good. Or maybe just take something that doesn't need to be reheated at all.

Cordon Bleu Braid
Chicken Casserole
Broccoli Chicken Casserole
Honey Pecan Chicken Salad
Veggie Tray Pizza
Peanut Butter Apple Wraps
Pizza Roll Ups
Taco Stuffed Shells
Southwest Lasagna
Red Beans and Rice

We don't want to forget the most important meal of the day. Muffins are great for a quick breakfast or snack. Click here for a list of muffin recipes on my blog.
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