Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in this post may be "affiliate links." This means if you click on the link and purchase an item, I will receive an affiliate commission, which keeps the lights on and the tax collector paid. Many thanks for your support! Disclosure in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255.
Awhile back, I wrote a rather long post on Tips for Taking Meals to Grieving and Celebrating Families. It has a LOT of good info in it, if I don’t say so myself. That said, coming up with meal ideas that are a good fit can be tricky, especially if you don’t want to spend the whole day cooking!
The last few meals that I have taken to families have been for a lot of people, like the burritos I made for nine adults, which was followed up by taking dinner to a family with two adults and six kids! I always cook the same food for me and my spouse at the same time, obviously, so that time I was cooking for 12 (dinner and lunch for my house). I seem to pick a lot of things that take too much time to do, so for my own future reference, here are some easy meals to take to families. I will also write a “good meals to take” post in the future, that includes a bit more cooking than these ones, and highlights some affordable ways to feed a crowd!
Key Characteristics of Good and Easy Meals to Take to Families:
- Not tomato-sauce based, unless there is only one or two things on the Meal Train list already.
- Healthy! Help them make sure they are getting all of the fruit and veggie servings they need. They may already be eating take-out or pre-packaged stuff. Young parents need lots of healthy foods to keep them going, too.
- Easy to heat up and clean up, with zero to very few dishes to return.
- Easy for you to make!
Super-Duper-Easy for You Meals:
Let’s try to dispel the myth that you have to be some sort of fantastic cook in order to help your friends out, shall we? If you have some time and energy (unlike your friends, most likely), take your wallet and do one of the following ideas.
A Breakfast Bag – Simply go to the store and pick up a fruit tray, bagels, a nut butter for protein, orange juice, and some milk or cream. Viola. Breakfast in a bag.
Deli Chicken – If you have the meal-deals where you live, get the chicken and the side salads, buns or bread and also consider picking up a veggie tray or at least some baby carrots.
Take Out Gift Certificates or Cash – Either arrange delivery of take-out for a specific night, or stop by with a take out menu and a gift certificate. Alternatively, a menu and some cash. Boom. Just make sure the gift certificate will cover what they need, like delivery fees and whatnot. A $15 pizza gift certificate isn’t super helpful if it’s going to cost $25 to get dinner.
Consumables Bag – Let’s take the example of a family who is mourning, lots of people are coming to their house and they are going through toilet paper like crazy. Buying more is the last thing they want to deal with. Go to the store and pick up some consumables that they might need, like kleenex, toilet paper, napkins, disposable plates and cutlery, laundry detergent, dish soap, lotion, light bulbs (seriously, same as with the TP), garbage bags, ziplock bags, paper towel, saran wrap, etc.
Coffee Station – If you know that a lot of people will be at the house, consider getting coffee catering from Tim Hortons or similar. They have easy grab and go options with dispenser cartons that hold enough for 20 people or so. If that’s not an option, get sugar cubes, disposable cups (my inner hippie cringes at this), cream or milk, ground coffee and some tea. If you know of a place you could borrow a perk-pot, like from a church or community centre, arrange it and deliver it. Hot chocolate is good to take for kids, and so is bottled water (cringe again!), as lots of people end up dehydrated if they are mourning.
Frozen Pizza – Pick some, cook it, and please, take a veggie tray too! You could also do pre-made chicken pot pies.
Soup – Pick up buns, a veggie tray and some good soup. Heat it up on your stove, their stove, or dump it in your croc pot.
Super Easy for you Meals:
These ideas require a little bit more than doing a grocery store run, but not by too, too much.
Pulled Pork – You put pork in a croc pot, drown it in BBQ sauce, and then when it is cooked pull it apart in the croc pot with a fork, or dump it into a kitchenaid stand mixer for a minute or so. Take it with buns and a salad. Get one of those coleslaw salads in a bag, easy-peasey.
Burgers (or hot dogs) – Cook a bunch of burgers, grab buns, some condiments (they probably already have most of them), slice some cheese (or buy it pre-sliced), slice some tomatoes, and put together a salad-in-a-bag kit. They don’t have to be all-out fancy gourmet burgers, convenience is the key here!
Pesto Fish – Make some rice in a rice cooker and put store-bought pesto on some fish filets and broil. Add some steamed frozen veggies.
Baked Chicken – Put some seasoning spices on chicken, pop it in the oven and deliver with a veggie tray and salad in a bag.
Hot Dogs and Beans – Slice hot dogs, cook in canned beans! Take with a veggie tray.
What other ideas do you have for easy meals to take to families? There have to be a lot of ideas out there beyond these ones, and please share this with your non-cooking friends, there are so many ways to help out a family or friend.