Nothing shows you care like preparing good, home-cooked food for someone. If that “someone” happens to live long distance, the person can still enjoy your home-cooked goodies if you ship them via overnight courier. When sending perishable foods you want to make every effort to ensure that the food arrives intact and mold-free by following some basic packing and shipping guidelines. While shipping home-cooked food is not difficult, it does require that you organize well and acquire some specific supplies.
Allow the food to cool completely after cooking. This will prevent moist droplets from condensing within the storage container. Moisture makes food soggy and promotes mold growth.
Wrap the homemade food in plastic wrap or aluminum foil. Place the wrapped food in a plastic, airtight, leak-proof container that is suitable for the refrigerator or freezer.
Freeze the perishable items that you plan to ship. This will help to ensure that the food is still cold or partially frozen when it arrives at the destination. Freezing will also prevent or limit bacterial growth.
Contact an overnight shipping company and give them your address, as well as the destination address, to ensure that they can deliver your package within 24 hours. Confirm/verify that they are equipped to ship perishable items.
Obtain a sturdy, corrugated cardboard box in which to ship the perishables. The box should be able to withstand consistent loading and unloading during shipment. Cushion the box with a layer of foam packaging material (foam popcorn).
Place the containers of food on top of the layer of foam popcorn. Place the frozen gel packs or dry ice on top of the food containers. Put another layer of foam popcorn on top of the gel packs or dry ice. Be sure to fill all empty spaces with the foam popcorn as air space will cause your food and cooling source to thaw faster. Close and seal the box with shipping tape.
Write “Perishable Items” or “Keep Refrigerated” on the box to alert the courier that the box requires special handling. Ship the box with your preferred courier and notify the recipient of the expected arrival time to ensure that they will be home to receive it. This will prevent the box from sitting outside at the recipient’s home in temperatures that could damage the food.
Do not mail perishable items on a weekend as the box may have to sit in the courier's office until the next business day. This could result in foods sitting too long in high temperatures that will make them spoil.
If you use dry ice to keep your perishables cold, indicate that fact on the outside of the box to prevent the recipient from touching the dry ice with their bare hands.
Do not handle dry ice with your bare hands as the extremely cold temperature can damage your skin. Use tongs or heavy-duty gloves.