Cooking for Others: A Guide to Home-Cooked Meals & Meal Train Ideas
I recently shared a few ideas about cooking for others (aka home-cooked meals and meal train ideas) and so many of you were looking for more ideas, had ideas to share, and were interested in seeing a guide about it and how I usually go about it!
I am really excited to share this post with you today because I truly think it is a useful tool and resource and filled with great recipes that will help you, help those in need! I’ve been cooking a lot lately for various families so before I jump into the recipes, here are a few tips I’ve gathered.
A few notes about delivering meals:
- Dietary Restrictions: Always inquire about dietary restrictions before planning the meal! What do the kids hate? What are you hoping to get the kids to eat more of? Does everyone eat meat? Etc.
- Delivery Time: Text/email/call the coordinator or the family to find out the best time to deliver dinner. Keep in mind that the family is dealing with an important issue (either good in the case of a new baby, or difficult in the case of illness) and may not want to visit with friends, so plan on dropping off on the porch.
- Disposable Containers: I alway use disposable food containers/trays so the family doesn’t have to clean dishes for me to pick back up!
- Make it Extra Special: If I have time and depending on the situation, I’ll add chocolates, wine, flowers, or something extra special. If the occasion is a newborn baby, something special for the big brother or sister, like a coloring book, stamps, stickers, or a little game is always a great idea to make them feel extra special. If I know the person and am in communication with them, I’ll ask them if they need any groceries on my way (milk, etc.)
- No time to cook? Look into local meal delivery services or restaurants and have a meal delivered! Chip in with friends and figure out a schedule that works.
P.S. Don’t know what a meal train is? Mealtrain.com is a crowdsourcing platform that helps organize home-made meal giving for a friend around a birth, surgery or illness also known as a Meal Train! It’s essentially just a website that helps you organize the process and allows people to sign up for different days, etc.
- Cut Up Fresh Fruit & Yogurt
- Frozen Smoothie Packs: Place smoothie ingredients for one serving in freezer-friendly Ziploc bags, label with an expiration date (about 6 months for frozen fruit), and store in the freezer until ready to use!
- Freezer Waffles: Pumpkin Waffles, Double Chocolate Banana Waffles, or the Best Ever Waffles in my Cookbook
- Freezer-Friendly Pancakes
- Frittata: Potato Leek and Chard Frittata, Sweet Potato BLT Frittata
- French Toast Cups
- Breakfast Burritos (freezer-friendly)
- Breakfast Parfaits in Mini Mason Jars
- Muffins: Cinnamon Bun, Banana Berry, Pumpkin Sticky Bun Muffins, Gingerbread Chocolate Chip Muffins, Chocolate Chip Zucchini Muffins, Coffee Crumb Cake Muffins
- Breakfast Cookies
- On-The-Go Baked Egg Nests
Main Meals: Lunches & Dinners
- Freezer Burritos
- Pasta Dishes: Pesto Pasta Salad, Pasta with Meat Sauce, Sausage and Veggie Pasta, Mac and Cheese
- A Protein: Grilled Chicken, Steak, Shrimp, Fish
- Meatballs: Thai Meatballs, Loaded Turkey Meatballs, Nanny’s Sweet & Sour Meatballs
- A batch of soup: Chicken and Kale Soup, Turkey Chili, Game Day White Chicken Chili, Healthy Broccoli Soup, Green Chili Vegetable Soup, Feel Good Veggie Soup, Classic Chicken Soup, Butternut Squash Curry Soup, Tomato Basil Soup (with grilled cheese), Slow Cooker French Onion Soup (and send a loaf of bread)
- Chicken Nuggets: Zesty Chicken Bites, Pecan Popcorn Chicken
- Sheet Pan Dinners: Sheet Pan Buffalo Chicken, Sheet Pan Chicken & Veggies
- One Pan Meals: Lemon Garlic Chicken & Rice, One-Pan Indian Spiced Chicken & Cauliflower, One-Pan Fiesta Chicken
- DIY Taco Bar or Taco Salads
- Casseroles: Spaghetti Squash Bake, Creamy Pumpkin Casserole, Sweet Potato Casserole
- Slow Cooker Dishes: Caribbean Pulled Chicken Lettuce Wraps, Thai Curry Chicken, Beef Barbacoa, Carne Asada, Slow Cooker Baked Potato Bar
- Sausage, Peppers, and Onions
- Mason Jar Salads
- DIY Lunch Pinwheels
- Loaded Egg Salad
- Copy-Cat Chipotle Burrito Bowls
- Stir Fry
- Pre-Made & Wrapped Sandwiches
- A Tray of Lasagna
- Tray of Roasted Vegetables: Maple Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Spiced Roasted Cauliflower, Perfect Roasted Veggies, Garlic Roasted Vegetables
- Salads: Arugula Salad with Mint Chia Dressing, Steak Cobb Salad with Cilantro Vinaigrette, Grilled Caesar Salad
- Mexican Street Corn Salad
- Israeli Salad
- Pasta Salads: Antipasto Pasta Salad, BLT Pasta Salad, Cold Asian Noodle Salad
- Sweet Potato Fries, Zucchini Fries, Eggplant Fries, or Regular Fries
- Instant Pot Risotto
- Beet Slaw
- Greek 3-Bean Salad
- Potato Latkes (makes a lot)
- Mediterranean Fritters (makes a lot)
- Cut up Veggies & Hummus or Other Dip: Tzatziki Sauce, Spanish Eggplant Dip, Buffalo Chicken Dip, Spinach and Artichoke Dip
- Mini Meatloaves
- Chips & Salsa
- Salad Roll-Ups
- Trail Mix (make a homemade blend of nuts, dried fruit, seeds, and chocolate chunks)
- Granola Bars
- No-Bake Energy Balls: Nut-Free Powerbites, Mint Chip Bites, Chocolate Chip Cookie Energy Bites
- Cookies: Double Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies, Chocolate Chip Cookies, Chai Cookie Bars, Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
- Secret Ingredient Brownies (send a pint of ice cream, too)
- Chocolate Dessert Cups + Fresh Fruit
- Bowl of Fruit (pre-cut)
- Cold Brew Ice Coffee
- A Pitcher of Iced Tea
- A Pitcher of Lemonade
- Chia Seed Jam
- Paleo Sandwich Bread or a Loaf of Bread
- DIY Chicken Rub
- Fresh Milk (or other groceries)
- Non food related: Chip in with friends and hiring a cleaning service!
Have other ideas? Leave them in the comments below!
August 18, 2017
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