Growing up meal trains were less official than they are now, but they were just as efficient. When a neighbor had a baby, we always had lasagna – and so did they. Mom didn’t put all that work into just one lasagna, so everyone got a lasagna!
Fast forward to the military spouse life and meal trains take on a new level. Have a baby? Get a lasagna. Have surgery? Get a lasagna. Did someone die? You get a lasagna, too.
But if everyone in the unit is bringing a lasagna… well, you can see how this pans out. So while we have upped our game for organizing meal trains with websites like Take Them a Meal and Meal Train, we need to up our game in the kitchen too. Here are some of our favorite comfort dishes that you can easily adapt for a meal train.
But first, a brief overview of meal train protocol:
- When organizing or participating in a meal train, double check for allergies or food preferences.
- Always bring the food in a disposable container – one you don’t want back.
- Bring it hot and ready to serve. Include reheating instructions in case they don’t eat it all in one night.
- Don’t apologize for the simplicity of your meal. You’re allowing someone to do something they need to do more than cooking. They will be grateful with a frozen pizza they didn’t have to buy. Promise.
And if you want to go over the top – which is always encouraged – consider adding some other easy things. Hardboiled eggs, cookies, a bagged salad, etc. And if you want to make another meal they can pop in the freezer for later? Do it!
Yes, everyone thinks of a pasta dish to bring – for several reasons. But you can get creative here. Go vegetarian, use eggplant instead of noodles, do a white chicken lasagna, or even some Italian sausage. Or make it simple and do a baked ziti. Up the game a bit with stuffed shells.
Add ons: Garlic bread, Caesar Salad, and brownies.
RELATED: Meal Train Ideas that Aren’t Lasagna
Break this down and keep it simple. Make a taco casserole or taco bake. Then send along with it some chips, extra cheese, and all the sides. This is a crowd pleaser, can be easily reheated, and is something everyone likes!
Add ons: Cookies, romaine lettuce to make taco salad, and some yummy salsa.
Again here you have options, you can do any variety of chili. Chili con carne, vegetarian chili, white chicken chili, whatever you like! (Make a double batch and serve your family the same thing that night.) You can also sneak some veggies in here and make another mom happy with the added nutrients.
Add ons: Corn bread, crackers, or chips.
Chicken Pot Pie
This is a family favorite in our house, we eat it at least once a week. It does take an hour to cook, but the assembly is easy and it only dirties one bowl. It’s full of protein, has some great veggies, and uses rotisserie chicken. (Hint: you can buy the white meat already picked off the chicken at Costco.) Kudos to Stay Fit Mom for sharing this recipe!
Add ons: roasted broccoli for some extra veggies and some brownies or cookies.
Breakfast for dinner is always a fun thing. Especially when there is enough to also have breakfast the next morning. A favorite, and easy way to do this is to make some chicken apple sausage and potatoes in the Instant Pot – quarter the potatoes, put everything in the pot with 1 cup of water/stock and cook for 10 minutes. Then chop up the sausage, layer it in a casserole dish with the potatoes and whisk up some eggs to pour on top. Top with cheese if you’d like and cook until the eggs are set.
Add ons: a loaf of cinnamon raisin bread and some orange juice.
Comfort dishes don’t have to take forever to make, nor do they need to be boring. Consider using one of these when you sign up for your next meal train. Or make them ahead of time and keep them ready to go in the freezer.
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Check out some other Meal Train Ideas that Aren’t Lasagna
Photo Credits: Stay Fit Mom, Unsplash, Pixabay