Convertible Multi-Meal Dishes
Ill be visiting some family members tomorrow who had a baby a few months ago. When i asked if there was anything i could do while i visited, the answer i got was prepare them some food that they can keep in the fridge and eat for a few days (its just the two of them, plus the baby).
Now the obvious choices of something lasagne-ey, casserole-ey, or enchillada-ey came to mind, and any of those would, no doubt, be appreciate, but as a formerly single person i can really appreciate how by the third day of eating the same thing it can get rather old. so i turn to you, chowhounds of the home cooking board, for your best ideas of food that i can prepare ahead for them that can be easily, if only slightly, altered to avoid the multi-day meal doldrums.
details: this is a pescatarian household, vegetarian is probably preferable, nobodys got any problem with cheese.
this is southern california, so while a hearty veggie stew or chili could seem seasonable, its like 80+ degrees and, apparently, still fire season.
I would do up/purchase a variety of sauces and/or salsas, and then grill a bunch of fresh veggies (eggplant, zucchini, tomato, mushrooms, corn -- which you then cut off the cobb -- bell peppers, etc., and some tofu and/or soyrizo) and put the veggies in differing combo varieties into containers of the number of sauces you have. Add to that a couple of packages of fresh noodles and some cooked rice that's been frozen into serving-size containers so it just needs to be nuked. That way, everything just needs a quick heating up (or boiling up for the fresh noodles) and they can make the decision for eggplant in korma sauce on rice one night, and tofu w/ veggies on noodles with a thai peanut/fish sauce another, etc.
Last February (in cold-weather Toronto) I cooked for two friends who had just had a baby and here's what I made them:
A 2-litre container of cream of carrot soup
1 roasted chicken, cut up in 4 pieces
A large container of lamb and apricot tajine
A large container of mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, and carrots
A large container of blanched green beans
1 banana bread
12 chocolate-chip cookies (for the daddy) ;-)
1 loaf of homemade bread
Granted, it is very winter-y food and not flexitarian, but they said they were able to eat for one week (using some of their things to complement) and freeze enough for another week, but that at least gives you an idea of quantities... One thing I tried to avoid was "gassy" foods, as my friend was nursing, so no legumes or cabbage, etc.
Good for you to bring food to your friends! I'm sure they'll really enjoy it :-)
You're certainly on the right track with your ideas, but instead of having to eat the same thing for a few days, why not make things that they can have a meal of and freeze leftovers for the future. Most pasta dishes freeze well -- mac and cheese, lasagne or shells. Also you could roast a bunch of vegetables and cook pasta and/or rice, portion them individually, and mom and dad can mix-and-match from the freezer. Maybe some chunky vegetable sauces as well. Pesto in serving sizes.
Quiches freeze well. Eat some, freeze meal-size portions. Stuffed red peppers, maybe using quinoa or barley as the grain. Definitely soups. Aside from the obvious minestrone, make pureed broccoli or roasted tomato. They're not too heavy. Lentils cooked thick as a side. If they want to have soup, they can add more stock or water, or eat like a stew. Stuffed cabbage rolls in vegetable broth gravy. Salmon loaf with tomato sauce.
Maybe some bran muffins individually wrapped so mom can grab one. Also cookies packed in sixes, just enough for dessert or a snack.
The only thing I will caution you on is not to freeze potatoes, especially in soups or stews. Better to use a leftover baked or boiled, or microwave one fresh, cut it up and add to the thawed dish when serving.
How pleased you must be that they like your cooking so well they want you as their personal chef! PS You could make a couple of batches of cookies tonight, if you have time, and fly them with you so you're not in the kitchen the entire visit!