Single serving sauces for assisted care
December 17, 2019 7:23 PM   Subscribe

My elderly mother is in a fully assisted care home in a different state from me. She gets as much nutritious food as she wants, but complains that it's dry and bland, and would like some sauces to add to it. Does anyone have recommendations for a single serving, shippable gravy/sauce/soup that doesn't need to be prepared?

The staff where she's at is pretty good, but just doesn't have the time to do custom orders for everyone, so we've found it easier to supply for ourselves.

She's not an adventurous eater, so not-spicy, American, Italian, English, or even Indian sauces would be ideal, but... I haven't been able to find anything that checks all the boxes. She's not officially on a restricted diet, though I suspect lower sodium would be better.

Really, what I'd love to find, is a Wendy's chicken-nugget-dipping-pack-sized container with brown gravy. Or perhaps a unicorn, since they seem about as rare.

Any suggestions?
posted by cowcowgrasstree to Food & Drink (15 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
BBQ sauces are some of the easiest to get and I bet a lot of them are more on the sweet instead of spicy
posted by jessamyn at 7:44 PM on December 17, 2019 [1 favorite]

Not strong-flavored, but marinara? Also A1 steak sauce. (though at one pack per dinner, that's many months of sauce!)
posted by aimedwander at 7:48 PM on December 17, 2019

So, this is not a sauce in the traditional sense, but Trader Joe sells a roasted chicken stock *concentrate* that is thick and ridiculously savory. It makes anything I add it to better, and crucially it comes in single-serving “tear off a the corner and squeeze” packaging. Kinda like a mini-ketchup packet.
posted by aramaic at 7:56 PM on December 17, 2019 [5 favorites]

I've seen ranch dressing in single-serving packets, though I don't remember where. Some fast food place. Would that work?
posted by bunderful at 8:16 PM on December 17, 2019 [1 favorite]

Given that she's not an adventurous eater, this sounds like a job for butter.
posted by metasarah at 8:18 PM on December 17, 2019 [3 favorites]

Here's a link to let you know what is how there.

Food was so important to my parents when they were in a home. Maybe you could splurge (if allowed) and have dinner delivered a couple times a week?
posted by beccaj at 8:32 PM on December 17, 2019 [1 favorite] has single serving packages of ... everything. You might find gravies/sauces there. You might also think about their single serving jams -- that would make a nice sauce on chicken.
posted by alwayson_slightlyoff at 8:36 PM on December 17, 2019 [3 favorites]

Single serve salad dressing are generally shelf stable even though you often see them in the refrigerator case in stores. That is as much to keep them near the salads they go with as anything else. Salad dressings make great sauces for lots of kinds of things. Grocery stores might not be happy if you try to buy out the entire supply that goes with their deli salads, but if you ask a manager for a special order they'll likely be willing to order extra for you. That might get you fewer packages per flavour than buying from a restaurant supply store so you can get a better mix.
posted by jacquilynne at 8:47 PM on December 17, 2019

Heinz honey mustard packets are in the Wendy's-type dipping tub; its salsa, marinara sauce, ranch, BBQ, and sweet 'n sour sauce, too. Other Heinz individual serving offerings include ketchup, mustard, honey, relish, tartar sauce, and taco sauce in squeeze packets. Kikkoman less-sodium soy sauce packets. A-1 steak sauce packets. Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing single-serving cups. Justin's Almond Butter. Kraft has 'dunk' cup containers: honey dijon, sweet 'n sour, pancake syrup... These are all Amazon links, with mainstream company names and individual condiment cups/individual serving packet in the search, but a restaurant supply may have more. See also KraftHeinz food service site.
posted by Iris Gambol at 9:55 PM on December 17, 2019 [1 favorite]

Oh, my goodness, take some time to scroll through Travel Size Condiments at Minimus, a site aimed at backpackers, travelers, minimalists, and anyone who wants to pretend they're giants:

Heinz® Garlic & Herb Flavored Light Mayonnaise
East Shore Key Lime with Ginger Mustard
Heinz Teriyaki Sauce Cup
Ocean Spray jellied cranberry sauce cup
Walden Farms Cranberry Sauce (packet)
Kikkoman® Ponzu Citrus Seasoned Dressing & Sauce
Lots of oil and vinegar packets, and separate dry-seasoning blends in packets, to mix together at mealtime.

Separate search categories: Individual Salad Dressing Packets and Dips and Sauces (incl. Nutella, chocolates, cheese dips, tapenade, hummus, caramels, peanut butter, apple cinnamon yogurt dip...)

Gravy is proving elusive.
posted by Iris Gambol at 10:15 PM on December 17, 2019 [6 favorites]

Only you can know if your mom would find this hack insulting or inventive: 2.5 oz jarred gravy, baby food. Sent along with the labels removed?
posted by Iris Gambol at 10:41 PM on December 17, 2019 [1 favorite]

The baby food gravy is a great find. Otherwise, jarred gravy is inexpensive enough to use some and discard the rest.

There's a great variety of Indian food in plastic packets. I wonder if they'd warm it for her to have on rice or potatoes.
posted by theora55 at 4:56 AM on December 18, 2019

McCormick makes this brown gravy in a box. It looks like it needs to be refrigerated after opening but is easy to pour.
posted by jabes at 8:31 AM on December 18, 2019

If it's gravy specifically, might be worth checking how fried chicken places that sell mashed potatoes or biscuits package their gravy for takeout orders.
posted by LobsterMitten at 8:49 AM on December 18, 2019

Thank you all so much for the ideas! I'll start chasing some of these down!
posted by cowcowgrasstree at 1:47 PM on December 18, 2019

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