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Tips for Storing and Delivering Meals for Families

Preparing food and delivering it to ill friends or those in need is a generous gesture - and one that's filled with genuine pleasure in helping others.

Sometimes, though, the process can be more trouble for the recipient. Some common sense and a few extra steps will help reduce the stress of being on the receiving end.(Please scroll down for rest of article.)


Preparation of Meals for Delivery

It's helpful to know the situation of the person you're for whom you're preparing foods. In addition, if someone can inquire about food preferences, that's even better. This won't always the case, however. Under all circumstances, preparing foods that are easy to re-heat and just as simple to freeze are always appreciated.

If at all possible, avoid delivering food in containers that have to be returned. A little extra expense for plastic throwaways means no one has to worry about what pot goes back to which cook. If you are delivering in a personal casserole dish or other container, be sure to clearly mark you name on it. Keep in mind, though, that the recipient will want to wash it before sending it back.

It's always a good idea to attach a note card to each dish listing ingredients. You don't have to provide the recipe. Some won't like the onions, for instance, or may be on a restricted diet. Also, provide any instructions for microwaving or reheating if necessary.

Prepare healthy foods in attractive ways. Fresh green beans can be livened up with a low-fat sauce. Use olive oil instead of less heart-healthy varieties.

Pre-freeze some items, such as breakfast muffins or pancakes. They'll come in handy for a quick snack.

Mark freezable containers with the date, so individuals can track when they should be used. Most meals should be consumed within three months, especially if they're stored in a refrigerator freezer.

Safety First

Take extreme precautions in the kitchen when preparing food for others. You may not mind that the cat weaves around your legs while cooking a family meal, but those floating hairs will not be appetizing if they land in someone else's dish.

Wash frequently and remember to keep foods at the right temperatures. Cool them down quickly and refrigerate with plenty of room for circulation. If you're delivering hot, even the two-hour rule is risky as you don't know how long the food will be sitting out on the other end. Get the food out of the oven or off the stove, let it cool slightly, then load it into containers and make the delivery quickly.

Be sure all meats are thoroughly cooked. It's better to err on the side of doneness that to have someone cut into an undercooked chicken or turkey breast. Use a meat thermometer to be sure.


Don't expect to be invited inside, unless you're visiting a dear friend or a family member. Some may be uncomfortable about accepting food while others may be more susceptible to germs if they're undergoing certain treatments.

Part 3 - Special Considerations for Taking Food to the Bereaved

Go Back to Part I


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