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43 Microwavable Foods You Can Send in Care Packages

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Updated 2021

One of the tough things about sending food in care packages is making sure it’s actually edible by the time the recipient gets it, especially when you’re sending overseas and to APO/FPO/DPO addresses. (Remember, when you’re sending military mail, you are not guaranteed the timeline that the USPS guarantees.)

When John was deployed, we were lucky– sometimes his care packages would reach him in less than a week. I know that’s really atypical– many people have to wait weeks and weeks for mail to get to them. And shipping times can vary by region and season.

And then sometimes the mail can just be slower or less efficient. Take this weird example– I once sent John a letter that took six months to get to him and went from Baltimore to Guantanamo, Cuba before ending up in Afghanistan.

Imagine if one of your care packages did that.

Yikes.

That’s why you want to be super careful when sending food in a care package.

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I often see comments and emails from readers who aren’t sure what you can and can’t send in a care package. There are always variables, so what works for someone may not work for your situation. You will want to stick to  a few guidelines to make sure that your foods show up safe and consumable for your recipient.

How to send food in a care package

  • Don’t send fresh food. Instead, send dehydrated, freeze-dried, or canned versions.
  • Don’t send foods that your recipient can’t prepare. For example, make sure that, if you’re sending microwaveable foods, they have a microwave oven available to them.
  • If you want to send foods that take a little prep, try to stick to microwavable ones, very simple recipes (with ingredients you’re sending), or ones that need just hot water to cook.
  • Watch the temperature. Avoid sending things that can melt in hot months.
  • And while we’re talking about foods that can melt or spoil, be aware of food restrictions of particular areas that your recipient is deployed to. For instance, are you allowed to send bacon or other pork products?
  • Send healthy foods when you can. Here’s a list of 72 healthy foods that are care package-safe.
  • While all of these suggestions come in microwavable containers, it might be helpful to your recipient to send basic tools for preparation or leftovers like a spoon and fork, microwave-safe bowl, or microwave-safe dishes.

Still have questions? Use my guide on how to send food safely in the mail.

Meals and Side Dishes

When John was deployed to Afghanistan, there was a span of months where he worked during times when the DFAC was closed. That meant that he was often sleeping when it was open, leaving him to eating granola bars, dried fruits, and nuts during the time that he was working those hours. If your care package recipient has regular access to a microwave and limited access to hot food, sending microwavable meals and side dishes could be very useful and welcome.

John also appreciated getting mail-safe sauces (like soy sauce and hoisin), spices, and other kinds of items that could liven up a boring meal at the DFAC or one that he made in his room.

Kraft Easy Mac Original Macaroni and Cheese Dinner 18 Microwaveable Single Serve Packs: Mac and cheese is always a great choice for a variety of reasons. Most folks like it. It’s easy to make. And you can dress it up and stir in hot sauces, extra cheese, proteins, salsa, or veggies (like frozen or fresh spinach,  canned or frozen peas, stewed, canned, or fresh tomatoes, or fresh or dried red onions or shallots) to the mixture to make it a more substantial meal.

Hormel Compleats Meals – Variety Flavors (6 Count – 7.5 to 10 Ounce Microwavable Bowls) – Beef Stew, Meatloaf, Roast Beef, Spaghetti, Chicken Alfredo, Turkey Dressing: Sending variety packs of microwaveable meals, like this one, packs a bang for your care package buck especially if your recipient isn’t too picky. (And if they are, they can share the meals they don’t want with others!)

These microwavable pasta options offer the same flexibility of macaroni and cheese: most people like it and it can be dressed up or added to a meal to make it heartier. Of course, they’re not going to take the place of homemade pasta or a dinner out, but these microwavable Italian meals (which all include pasta sauce and noodles) can offer a little bit of comfort food while your recipient is away. Try:

Old El Paso Rice Bowl – Chipotle Black Bean & Corn – 2.7 oz: As part of a meal or the entire dinner itself, flavored black beans and corn offer an easy and nutritious option for your recipient when it otherwise might just be easier to fill up on empty carbs or junk food instead.

Consider sending microwavable brown rice or

Soup’s on! When it comes to microwavable meals that are easy to send, soup is a no-brainer. There are quite a few brands and varieties to choose from including:

Sending complete meals can also be a welcome care package offering. These meals usually are higher in calories and are heavier in carbs and protein and are larger as well. Canned vegetables like carrots can be added as a side dish. Try these for a jumping off point:

Desserts

There’s just something about a warm dessert. While your recipient doesn’t have an oven at their disposal and can’t do their own baking, there is hope. In recent years, mug cakes and microwavable desserts have gotten really good… with gooey, tasty insides. These all have simple microwave recipes– no eggs, flour, or baking powder needed– and need just a tablespoon or few of water to transform into a delectable dish. Send these tasty treats to the care package recipients in your life with a sweet tooth:

Breakfast

Unfortunately, pancakes aren’t in this list of microwaveable breakfast foods. But there are a lot (and I mean a lot) of oatmeal varieties and muffins to send a warm, inviting breakfast that isn’t (too) different from what your care package recipient might eat at home. Most of these breakfasts take no more than a cup of water (or less) and just a few minutes. Consider sending some accoutrements like peanut butter, honey, or chocolate chips for a garnish.

Gluten-Free, Organic, Vegetarian, etc.

Usually you don’t think about dietary considerations when you think about microwaveable, packaged foods. But there are actually a ton of brands and varieties of foods that run the gamut– from organic choices to vegetarian and vegan ones to gluten-free ones to GMO-free choices. Dig into these conscious options:

Snacks

You can’t go wrong with a care package if you send a few snacks along, like these:

Looking For More Care Package Ideas? Try These:


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