Refining the art of giving meals as gifts

Cooking for family and friends
Cooking for family and friends Photo: Getty

My way of showing someone that I care about them is to feed them. That’s why I love having people over at my house for meals and that’s why I love sharing my recipes with people.

There are times in our our lives when cooking is the last thing on our priority list. Perhaps after having a baby, suffering loss or recovering from illness and injury. However it’s often in these difficult times when eating good, home-cooked food is more important than ever.

I’ve compiled a list of tips and tricks to help you through the process with ease.

1. Choose the meal you would like to bring. Pick something that you’re known for or something that you know you can make easily and always has good results. Also make sure you check for any dietary requirements/food intolerances. I think something hearty, in a sauce and that can potentially be frozen and reheated is often a great choice. That way the recipient of your gift can always choose to eat it at a time convenient to them.

2. Choose a container. Where possible, go disposable. Foil barbecue trays are great for heating in the oven and come in couple or family sizes. Plastic takeaway containers are great for foods that need to be reheated in the microwave. Ziplock bags are sturdy and take up little space in the freezer. I would avoid bringing food in your own dish simply because it’s often an added hassle for the gift recipient to have to clean and return it to you.

3. Clearly label everything. Write the date the food was prepared along with a clear description of what is inside. Write detailed instructions on defrosting, reheating and serving. If a meal has different components that go together (such as rice and a casserole) make sure you leave instructions that indicate this.

4. Deliver a hot meal at dinner time. This can be a really lovely option for meals that don’t do so well being reheated. Plus it’s the ultimate in ease for the recipient, they don’t have to do anything but tuck in. If you wanted to do this, I’d suggest calling ahead early in the day and organising an exact drop off time.

5. Deliver but don’t linger. Drop off the meals but don’t necessarily hang around. A quick chat to see how the person is doing is lovely, but anything more and you are defeating the purpose of making life easier for them.

6. Follow up. A phone call or an email a few days later to see how they are going is a nice thing to do. It’s a good time to see if they are doing better or if they’d like another meal some time soon.

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So get cooking! It’s a wonderful thing to do for someone in need. Below I’ve linked to some great recipes to take to someone who could do with a bit of home cooking.

Chicken, Leek and Bacon Casserole

Beef Bourguignon

Chicken Tagine with Dates, Lemon and Pistachios

Italian Meatballs with Tomato Sauce

Massaman Lamb Curry

Beef and Barley Soup

Swedish Meatballs

Best Ever Lasagna

Lamb Shank Shepherd’s Pie

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