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Whatever the case—someone you know is experiencing illness or injury, a loss in the family, or a new addition—bringing food is one of the most comforting and intuitive ways we offer help and support to colleagues, friends, and other loved ones who could use a hand. As instinctual as it may be to wanna take care of another by feeding them… the next steps to take aren’t always obvious givens. Particularly when it comes to the big question—Well, what exactly should I make/take??

The following tips and recipes should help you to answer just that. So the next time duty calls—you, my friend, will be ready to act.

Have a System

If you’re looking to take someone you care for a meal, chances are you’re not the only one. If another friend or family member hasn’t already done so, offer to set up a meal delivery sign-up calendar on their behalf. Websites like Take Them a Meal make creating a volunteer calendar (that can be shared easily via e-mail or social media) incredibly simple.

*To cover more extensive needs beyond meal delivery, Sign Up Genius is another helpful resource.

Be Sure to Ask About Any Food Allergies

Especially if you’re the one setting up a sign-up system, you’ll want to make sure you know about any food allergies or sensitivities in the household you’re bringing the meal to.

Get the Scoop On Preferred/Utterly Despised Foods

While you’re asking about food allergies, go ahead and ask about any ingredients/dishes that aren’t generally well received at their dinner table (provided that you at feel it is appropriate, given the circumstances). While it’s most definitely the thought that counts and your efforts are sure to be appreciated regardless, you probably want to bring a dish that your person in need will legitimately enjoy… and that the other members of their household (i.e. picky kiddos) will eat too. Never hurts to double check!

Keep Portability and Reheat-ability in Mind

The ideal foods to give are going to be those that you can make (or place) in a container you do not need back (such as a disposable casserole pan or a couple of plastic to-go containers you don’t mind sacrificing) and that can be easily reheated as is—requiring minimal additional work or assembly—or do not need reheating. Bonus points for delivering freezer-friendly foods, just in case they end up with far more food than they can handle.

Recipe Ideas


Other Goodies:

(Because a homemade treat and a heartfelt note is never a bad idea.)

Consider a Different Kind of Delivery

If it doesn’t seem that bringing a prepared meal is a feasible option, due to a lack of time on your part or lack of desire on theirs, consider gifting a delivery service that would allow the person to order exactly what they want/need and have it delivered to their doorstep. A 6-month Shipt gift membership for grocery delivery currently costs $49 or you can gift a 3-month Amazon Prime membership for $39 (although, that price will likely increase in the not so distant future). Alternatively, if you know of a couple of items available on Amazon they may need or would simply enjoy, you could use your own Amazon Prime accounts to send them a gift with speedy delivery.

Another option is offering to knock out their grocery list whenever you go grocery shopping for yourself. P.S. If you go this route, it probably wouldn’t hurt to pick up a couple of easy meal/snack options—such as something prepared from the deli, fresh fruit, or a frozen pizza—even if that’s not on their list.

By Darcy Lenz and Darcy Lenz