As the coronavirus pandemic has people hunkering down and staying safe at home, mealtime has become a burden to many. The anxiety of visiting a grocery store to fight the crowds, deal with the risk of coming into close contact with others all while facing the disappointment of empty shelves, it’s no wonder meal planning has become a challenge.

Most restaurants offer a to-go service which is beneficial for those looking for a quick option, but what about the people who are unable to leave their home due to lack of transportation or fear? Seniors are warned to be cautious, and there is one specific way you can help.

Consider delivering a meal to someone in need. Maybe it’s a neighbor, someone from church or a person you read about on social media. There are seniors all around who would benefit from a meal or two.

DO Keep it Healthy

Comfort food is one thing, but a meal full of sugar and fat is another. Now more than ever, people are trying to make healthy choices to strengthen their immune systems and have more energy.

DO Make it Easy

Use disposable serving dishes. Prepare the meal in a foil dish that is oven ready (if meal requires baking). This ensures that your gift doesn’t come with the chore of washing dishes, and it eliminates any awkward feelings of wondering how and when to return the dishes. If necessary, include easy instructions (i.e.: how long to bake, at what temperature to bake, etc.)

DO Make it Safe

Take extra precautions as you prepare a meal. Of course, be sure to wash your hands and your kitchen counter tops before getting started. The delivery process is just as important as the cooking process. When it’s time to transport the meal, package it in a disposable grocery bag or cooler bag that you don’t need returned and use a non-contact delivery method. Of course, you don’t want the food sitting on the doorstep in the summer heat, so call ahead and let your friend or neighbor know that you’ll be safely delivering the meal.

DON’T Deliver Perishables

Try to deliver meals that are frozen or that can easily be frozen. You never know what the person might have planned or what food they need to use that’s already stocked in their refrigerator. It would be wasteful to deliver fresh fruit or vegetables if the recipient wasn’t able to consume them within a few days.

DON’T Forget the Sides

Every meal needs a little something on the side! Think of the extras that you might simply assume the person has stocked in the fridge. Delivering enchiladas? Don’t forget the sour cream, salsa and chips. Maybe you’re dropping off meatloaf. Add in some ketchup and a side of mashed potatoes and perhaps a can of vegetables. Consider going to the extra mile by including a small dessert.

DON’T Make it Feel Too Distant

Although we are practicing social distancing, especially with our most vulnerable, you can still make your gift feel up close and personal. Include a hand-written note or card with your meal delivery. This will go a long way even if the person is a stranger. If you’re a parent, have your kids draw a picture or make a handmade card to go with the meal delivery. You can also smile and wave from a distance after you drop off the dish. You never know, a smile could mean more than a homemade meal.

5 Meal Delivery Ideas & Recipes:

Lasagna: Nothing says comfort food like a cheesy thick slice of homemade lasagna. You probably already have your go-to lasagna recipe, but if not, check this one out here!

Tuna Noodle Casserole: This is a casserole that brings one back to the simple days of childhood! Tuna is a unique way to add some protein into a dinner, and it’s quick and easy to bake. Click here for a recipe.

Meatloaf: Another comfort food classic. Meatloaf is great dish for lunch or dinner. Don’t forget to include ketchup and a couple hearty sides. Click here for a mouthwatering recipe.

Chili: Chili is not only for winter months, it’s tasty all year round. Make your special chili recipe to deliver or find one online. Remember, not everyone can handle too much spice! Try this classic chili recipe here.

Chicken, Broccoli & Rice Casserole: Get some veggies in there! Many people love chicken and broccoli, so combine them in this warm, cozy casserole that can easily be prepped ahead. Click here for a recipe.