Meal Trains Are Awesome!

Have you ever been the recipient of a meal train? If you have, consider yourself fortunate! If you have ever contributed to a meal train, you’re a good person. All this to say, meal trains are awesome!
I recently had back surgery and my wonderful friends in the neighborhood organized a meal train for my family while I recovered. And it was even more awesome as I could have imagined!
This post contains both tips on how to run a successful meal train along with ideas of meals to bring if you participate in a meal train.

Here are my tips to ensure your meal train is a success:

  1. Ask About Dietary Restrictions and Preferences (vegetarian, gluten free, etc.) We requested no seafood or mushrooms & olives and lucked out we liked all the meals!
  2. Flavorful but not spicy – Physical and emotional trauma can mess with your digestive system, as can pain medication, etc.  Pick something flavorful and comforting but not overly spicy or greasy for tender tummies. Adding a fresh and healthy element (salad, fruit, etc.) is always a welcome addition.
  3. Don’t forget about breakfast and snacks!  We received oatmeal bites which were a great breakfast and snack options. They were the perfect size to take a pain pill with as well. 
  4. Use Disposable Dishes While not the most environmentally friendly, we  didn’t need to return anything or remember who’s casserole dish to return, etc. Just one extra convenience. 
  5. Use an online meal planning software. This ensures everyone can see the game board, hopefully remove and duplicate dishes, and it’s easy to forward the link to anyone wanting to jump on the meal train and provide a meal. I had some friends saying “I was just going to bring a meal over anyway, but now I know what date works best!”  We used Give InKind, for our meal train. 
Here’s a rundown of the meals we received.
We liked and recommend all of them if you’re looking for an meal train ideas! Recipes linked when applicable. The photos I took were pretty bad and aren’t included, I was on a lot of meds, you understand! 

Carnitas Tacos

What was in the bag: Pre-cooked pork carnitas, shredded cheddar cheese, homemade pickled red onions, container of salsa and a package of street taco-sized flour tortillas. 

We simply heated the carnitas and tortillas in the microwave and built our own tacos!  I make a carnitas taco on the regular and it was fun to try a different type of carnitas taco. We really enjoyed this meal and i’m excited to make pickled red onions when i’m back in the kitchen!

Caprese Chicken, Roasted Brussels & Fruit Salad

What was in the bag: Delivered warm at dinnertime, the bag had a disposable pan of warm chicken, container of roasted brussels sprouts and fruit salad. And don’t forget a container of chocolate brownies! 🙂

This chicken was out of this world good!  The recipe came from a cookbook so I’m unable to share a link but I look forward to making it again with the fresh basil we are growing in our kitchen! We loved the fruit salad, nice and fresh and my kiddo wasn’t into the sprouts. And chocolate brownies were also a welcome treat! 

Stromboli & Salad

What was in the bag: A pre-made Stromboli from a meal prep service and a bagged salad kit. She also dropped off a breakfast bake, a chicken pot pie, green beans and baby potatoes (side dishes), all from the meal prep place.

We loved starting out the meal with a salad while the Stromboli rested, fresh from the oven. The Stromboli was hot and delicious, tasted enough like pizza for my kiddo to enjoy it and leftovers we’re great for lunch the next day. If you’re unable to cook or don’t want to cook for whatever reason, this was a great option to participate in the meal train.

Our Favorite Chinese Takeout, delivered

This friend was on deck to make our favorite Korean Beef dish – we both have it in our family’s regular meal rotation. The morning of, her kiddo had an upset stomach and to  avoid any germs, she pivoted and arranged for a delivery from our favorite local Chinese restaurant. Alex and I enjoyed Chicken Lo Mein while Mike had his favorite Kung Pao Chicken. Rounded out with an order of egg rolls and steamed edamame with lots of leftovers.
Happy to support a local restaurant now so they’ll be there when its safe to eat in restaurants again. If you’re local, we like Egg Roll King in Centennial/Highlands Ranch! 

Pulled Pork Sliders, Chips & Girl Scout Cookies

What was in the bag: Smoked pulled pork butt, a container of deli coleslaw, a bottle of bbq sauce, a package of slider buns, a bag of potato chips, and Girl Scout cookies!

This friend let me know they were smoking a  pork butt that weekend and asked if we would like tacos or sliders.  Since we had carnitas tacos already, we went the slider route and they were delicious!  A family favorite with great leftovers.

Million Dollar Spaghetti, Garlic Bread & Salad

What was in the bag: A disposable tray of Million Dollar Spaghetti,  bag of salad and 2 loaves of bread, one plain and one garlic, wrapped in foil. And a bag of delicious Costco cookies for dessert!
It was great to start with a salad and we feasted on a version of the recipe here. The garlic bread was awesome and just needed to be heated in the oven along with the spaghetti to warm. We loved this meal, and the leftovers!

Homemade Muffins & Pasta Salad

What was in the bag: homemade muffins and a homemade pasta salad (just like gramma/mom make!)
This was from my mom, and we enjoyed homemade muffins as a snack and at breakfast. The pasta salad was a great lunch or snack and just felt comforting since it was the recipe I’ve grown up eating.

Oatmeal Bites & Protein Cookies

What was in the bag: One container of dozen or so of pumpkin chocolate chip oatmeal bites and another container of protein cookies.
The Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Bites came in clutch for me especially! It was a quick an easy breakfast and snack every time I needed either breakfast or a snack to take pail. The cookies were not overly sweet and a nice change in pace and super healthy. I even got a refill of the oatmeal bites in a different flavor. Check out for a variety of flavors! 

Meal Train Derailed...

Unfortunately, the meal train derailed as the pain medicine and muscle relaxers I was taking post surgery caused my GI system to completely lose it’s sh*t! A few days later I was in the ER for fluids due to dehydration and it’s been a long road back to feeling normal again.
We have 2 gift cards from Uber Eats so we can order a meal when I’m back to eating normally again – and I can’t wait!
One more giant thank you to all the family and friends who contributed to our meal train. I’m excited to repay the favor!


  1. Great ideas!!
    I love to buy my disposable containers at the dollar store (can’t beat 2 for a dollar). Always nice to have on hand for that meal!

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