My Controversial Method for Transporting Food on Thanksgiving Works Every Year

published Nov 21, 2023
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Overhead view of the casserole in a dark blue casserole dish, with a scoop taken out of the top right corner.
Credit: Photo: Vicky Wasik ; Food Stylist: Rachel Perlmutter

Since I work with food so much, I frequently find myself transporting hot casseroles, pitchers of drinks or cocktails, and delicate pies or desserts that can’t be jostled much. It always used to be a bit of a nerve-wracking experience loading up the car and hoping that I packed things properly so that everything arrived intact. Then a new member joined our family a few years ago, and with her came a super-useful item that I now use to safely transport food, especially for important meals like Thanksgiving. You might have one too!

That new family member is Mochi, our dog. Since we often take her with us when we go out, we put a small, plush pet bed permanently in our car. Turns out that a pet bed is a great way to transport food and keep it warm at the same time!

Why a Pet Bed Is the Perfect Vessel for Transporting Food 

I discovered the pet bed’s usefulness one day when I was bringing a casserole over to a family member’s house for dinner. As I was loading up the car, I was trying to think of the best place to put the baking dish so it wouldn’t fly around when I spied the pet bed. It was empty since my dog wasn’t coming with me, and I thought, “That would be the perfect place!” 

I snuggled the baking dish into the pet bed, grateful that it had raised sides, and crossed my fingers that everything would be fine. The casserole arrived safe and sound, and all the plush insulation in the bedding kept it warm too.

From that point on, I’ve used Mochi’s dog bed whenever I am transporting food that I deem fragile or worth keeping warm, whether it’s for Thanksgiving or as a place to put big containers of hot soup when I’m bringing takeout home (trust me, no one wants to spill soup in the car). I’ve used it in the front passenger seat, back seat, and trunk with great success. If Mochi is coming along for the ride, we just grab the second dog bed from the house and everyone has a seat.

If You’re Transporting Food in a Pet Bed, a Few Tips

  • Make sure the bed has raised sides. A flat pet bed won’t be great at keeping dishes from sliding around, so use one that has raised sides instead.
  • Line it with a towel or blanket first. Line the pet bed with a towel or washable blanket before you put the food in to keep pet hairs or smells out of the food.
  • Wrap your food well. Things stay put pretty well in a pet bed, but you should still make sure your food is well wrapped or in a sealed container to prevent leaks. If you have hot liquids like soups, place the containers in a bag and tie it up tightly first.
  • Use a washable pet bed. It’s best to use a pet bed that’s washable in case an accident or leak does occur. Use one that has a washable cover or one where the whole thing can be tossed into the washing machine.