Tips for Shipping & Transporting Food

 In Sneaky Chef Tricks & How To's, Tips and Tricks

From transporting hearty meals for potluck parties to mailing homemade goodies to out of town friends, the holidays are a time that keep us constantly sending our treats on the road. Problem is, not many people have sticky spills or crushed cookies on their wish list this year. I’d like to share with you some great tips on shipping and transporting goods to make sure your dishes arrive as in tact and fresh as when you sent them out.

Travel Tips for Popular To-Go Treats

  • Appetizers: If you’re taking hors d’oeuvres such crudités or chips and dip, get a carrier that will keep your dippers organized and party-fresh. Covered trays with dividers and a center well are great for keeping things neat, and much easier to manage than a separate container for each type of veggie. Tote the dip in a separate container and add it to the well when you arrive to avoid en-route spills. A tip for keeping cut veggies fresh? Place a damp paper towel on top before you seal the container for the trip. 
  • Baked Goods: The biggest risk with baked goods are crushing, cracking, and crumbs. Go for shallow, lidded containers that are sturdy and the right size to keep your treats from sliding around. Great options include cookie tins, gift boxes, or even small craft boxes from the art supply store. Be sure to use parchment or wax paper inside your container to limit shifting even more.
  • Frosted Items: Frosting takes the complexity of travel up a notch, because the decoration is way delicate. When it comes to cakes, cupcakes and other baked goods, a custom-designed caddy is the way to go. Make delivery a snap and avoid frosting fails. 
  • Main Dishes and Sides: Soups and other hot-dish sides hold up best in glass or some other microwavable, oven-safe melt-proof container. Or, consider an insulated tote to keep your dish at the optimal temperature – works great for keep-cool sides as well. Idea: make the gratin, pie plate, or serving piece you use to transport food a gift for the host. 

Tip: Make sure your container has a sturdy, well-attached lid. Always a safer bet than foil or plastic wrap for avoiding in-transit spills. 

  • Foods to Gift:  Mason jars are a trendy, homespun, spill-proof way to share homemade treats like granola, salsas, chutneys, or sauces with your friends and family for the holidays. They’re an adorable way to present gifts and they’re perfect to travel with. If you’re taking lots of goody jars, use the box they came in for easy transport. Cookies look adorable stacked in a mason jar, and candy looks bakery-beautiful arranged inside colored cupcake liners. Then just attach a colorful bow or some craftsy twine with a labeled hanging tag to give your gift holiday flair.  
  • Goody (or Doggie) Bags: Send guests home from your own gathering is with a memorable party favor of homemade treats. Go tiny and totable like truffles, candies, or cookies in Chinese takeout containers or small gift boxes. You could also pack up some breakfast items for people to enjoy the next morning. Cradle muffins, scones, or a small loaf of quick bread in tissue paper or parchment, then tuck them in cute gift boxes to keep them smush-free. 

Lots of leftovers? Share them with your guests by portioning them out into plastic-sealed storage containers. Put together mini-meals for everyone to enjoy the next day, or as a late night snack.  

Road Trip Tips

If you’re going on a long trip with your treats, there are a few ways to make sure they arrive tasting great and looking fresh. Insulate hot dishes by wrapping them in a towel. Cold dishes travel well picnic-style in a cooler or surrounded with ice packs. Tucking your treats in the trunk? Be sure to give them a sturdy, flat surface to sit on. (Shipping boxes from online shopping are great for this.) Stick newspaper, paper towels, or dishtowels between containers before you take off to avoid slips and spills on the road.

A final tip: Use masking tape to label the bottom of your serving or storage containers to make sure they make it back home after the party.  

What’s your favorite dish to take to a potluck?

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