If you know me personally then you know my passion for hosting/cooking for friends. It’s the best way that I show my love for others. Whenever a baby is born, someone is unfortunately ill, a family tragedy occurs, perhaps a birthday, or even just because I have made too much food and someone was on my heart- I jump at the opportunity to try and brighten someones day/lessen the load and bring them a prepared meal. Now, I hope that didn’t sound really braggadocios, but it’s one of the few things I actually am “ok” at! And I really enjoy it. So, in the many dealings I have had with bringing food to others I have learned a few things to make it easier on you AND the recipient. 

 
1) The vessels in which you transport the food– Pick something you don’t need returned to you. It is likely that the person you are delivering to is going through something that requires more emotional attention or even sleep (for new moms) than usual and the last thing they need to worry about is juggling different containers to be returned to different deliverers. I went to smart and final and purchased a load of these recently. They were like five bucks for 30 or something and they’re REUSABLE. So, you can leave them with the recipient and not miss them AND the recipient can reuse them if they would like. For anything that doesn’t fit in these? Foil packets… boom.  

8 TIPS FOR DELIVERING HOME-COOKED MEALS / LAURENARIZA.COM
 
2) Be mindful of dietary needs- Now this is a tough one because if there isn’t an email or site stating what their dietary needs are (and you don’t already know from previous meals/time with them) you are going to have to ask BUT any extra communication with someone going through something can be more exhausting for them than you might realize. One or two texts is not the end of the world of course, just be sure to keep it short. Anyway, gluten-free, vegetarian, watching their weight, breast feeding constraints (yes, those exist) etc. are important things to be aware of since you actually want them to eat the food lol.

3) Cook something that reheats well- It is likely that the food may cool down in transit, OR the family might not be able to eat RIGHT THEN AND THERE, so the option to reheat and for things to still be yummy is ideal… Not to mention on the next day if they have leftovers. In this particular instance I made Chicken Tikka Masala and rice (with flatbread and tzatziki… and a salad that I’ll talk about in a bit). Sometimes rice may not reheat well, but when it’s being smothered in the rich sauce like this it does just fine.
Other great comforting options are (click the titles for recipes):
•soups- CHICKEN POZOLE VERDE, CLASSIC CHICKEN NOODLE, or ROASTED BUTTERNUT SQUASH
•chili-  TURKEY CHILI 
•saucy protein dishes- ROPA VIEJA, SPICY THAI GREEN CURRY (watch the spice level tho) or BBQ PULLED CHICKEN SANDWICHES.
•lettuce wraps- THAI TURKEY LETTUCE WRAPS (deliver with lettuce on the side)

3.5) Avoid pasta dishes (with some exceptions)- I say this out of experience: a lot of families that I have delivered to that are on a “meal-train” kind of thing (where multiple people sign up to bring meals over a few weeks) have told me that they receive a lot of redundant pasta dishes. Obviously these families are still so grateful for those meals but YOU can be the one to switch it up! I have one pasta dish that gets requested, so if someone wants it I will obviously make it! Otherwise I try to stick to something else. The requested pasta dish (in case you were curious and want to try it out) is TOMATO BASIL SUMMER PASTA

4) For salads, choose sturdy veggies or deliver with dressing on the side-  In this particular case I chose the former. I used sturdy vegetables that can stand up to their dressing for long amounts of time. I made a salad with cucumber, tomato, green bell pepper, red onion, fresh mint, and basil then tossed it with lemon juice, rice wine vinegar, dried oregano, a touch of honey, a little soy sauce, and a touch of good olive oil. I let it marinate in the fridge until I left to deliver. 
Other great cold options are (click titles for recipes):
COLD CRUNCHY CHICKEN SALAD WITH CREAMY TAHINI AND GINGER VINAIGRETTE (this one is basically a main dish)
RED CABBAGE SLAW WITH SWEET CORN, CILANTRO AND LIME
FARRO SALAD WITH SHAVED BRUSSELS SPROUTS, PEPITAS, AND FETA 

5) Pack a beverage-  This is obviously not a must but it sure is a nice touch, and super easy because it takes zero preparation. I almost ALWAYS pack a bottle of wine but if the person doesn’t drink, or you are unsure, pack a fresh juice or sparkling water… It’s schmancy without a lot of fuss : )

6) Dessert- This may also seem excessive, I don’t know, but ending it on a sweet note is always a good thing no matter how you dice it. If I am putting a lot of effort into the meal or even if I’m not but need something quick- a couple yummy chocolate bars are perfect. Sometimes I’ll pick up a small thing of gelato when buying the groceries too… OR if it fits within the food theme I’ll do tortillas with honey butter (people go NUTS for it). Ready for the suuuuper complicated recipe for honey butter? 
Let half of a stick of butter sit out and come to room temp. Pour in a few drizzles of honey and a few sprinkles of salt. Mash with a fork to combine and put in the fridge to reset. DONE.

8 TIPS FOR DELIVERING HOME-COOKED MEALS / LAURENARIZA.COM
7) Store items according to temperature and weight- For instance, I store all of the warm things on one the bottom of the bag and throw a (cloth or paper) towel in between them and the cold stuff. Anything prepackaged (flatbread in my case) and beverages go on the side, and meltable desert on top of the cold stuff…

8 TIPS FOR DELIVERING HOME-COOKED MEALS / LAURENARIZA.COM
8) Drop it and go!!! Unless you are super close friends and/or invited to stay longer there is a good chance that these recipients aren’t totally in the mood to “entertain” so it is important to be respectful of that. Give any directions or descriptions needed for the meal, offer an encouraging (but not intrusive) word or compliment to the recipient and skedaddle… (Or just leave a little note on the bag!) They will appreciate it.  

8 TIPS FOR DELIVERING HOME-COOKED MEALS / LAURENARIZA.COM
So that’s all I’ve got for now! I’m sure more will come to mind as I deliver more meals but until then I hope this was at least a little bit helpful. Xx