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Ask the Readers | What are good meals to bring to others?

When calls go out to give meals to others, I find myself paralyzed.* What are good things to make/give that are frugal, delicious, and have a high likelihood of being well received? And what about dietary preferences; for example, I’m a vegetarian and my sister (who just lost her husband and needs meals) eats no gluten, dairy, or sugar.

Kind regards,


*I can and do organize city-wide drives for the Food Bank like a boss. My dining room table seats twelve without extensions and I love to feed people, but preparing full meals to give to others totally stumps me.

I feel this on a personal level! Bringing meals to other people is tough.

The main issue I face is that a lot of the foods I typically make don’t travel well or reheat well. And then if you add in dietary problems, that makes it even harder.

Since I’m good at making bread, I usually try to make a main dish that I can combine with homemade bread (barring any wheat sensitivities). So, something like pulled pork with homemade buns, or soup with a loaf of bread works well. 

two loaves egg bread

Homemade bread makes any meal more special, and it doesn’t cost much either.

If I’m bringing a meal to a household with a variety of sensitivities, I like to do burrito bowls.

Burrito bowl leftovers in white bowl.

This does take a lot of containers, but you can send rice, beans, meat (I like to send this chipotle chicken), roasted veggies, cheese, lettuce, salsas, etc., and everyone can make a bowl that fits with what they can eat. These are so flexible, you can customize them to fit most types of diets.

(to wit, you and your sister could both make a burrito bowl!)

All that said, I am most certainly not an expert in the bringing-meals-to-others arena. And that’s why this is an Ask The Readers post and not a Q&A post.


Readers! What are your favorite foods to give to others who need a meal?

P.S. I wrote a whole post about hyperemesis in pregnancy, and I just wanted to reiterate that if you know someone who is pregnant and terribly sick, bringing a meal is a great idea! That was such a blessing to me because even if I was too sick to eat the food, at least my family was fed.

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Sunday 16th of January 2022

There’s lots of great suggestions here. Chicken spaghetti is both frugal and reheats well; however twice, recently, I took a meal to others and and took pulled pork to one family and sloppy Joe’s, chips and popsicles to a family with young kids (I asked mom what they’d like and she said sandwiches). In both cases I was thanked repeatedly and told they were ‘pasta-ed’ out. I recently had surgery myself and a friend brought dinner to us, and brought along a small bouquet of flowers to help cheer me up. Boy did they! And I’m embarrassed to say I’d never thought of that myself.

Michelle H

Friday 14th of January 2022

My go-to meal to offer to bring someone is a pan of pasta bake, a green salad, and a loaf of french bread from the store bakery (wish I could make my own like Kristen does, but yeast breads refuse to cooperate for me).

The pasta bake recipe I use is an old Kraft foods one with only 5 ingredients that I pretty much always have on hand. I can either deliver it uncooked and ready for them to pop in the oven for 20 minutes, or pre-bake and deliver it. Leftovers reheat well, and freeze well also.

Looks like the recipe has been updated since the one I cut out years ago - I prefer rotini, and my recipe uses 3/4 cup grated parmesan (half cup mixed in with sauce, 1/4 cup sprinkled over the top, and 2 cups of mozzarella. Otherwise it's the same details.

Erika JS

Friday 14th of January 2022

A favorite thing I like to bring is a salad that’s a meal like Thai Noodle Salad. Always well received, eaten at room temp or cold so no heating issues, and with rice noodles a tad closer to avoiding food sensitivity. Also healthy!


Friday 14th of January 2022

I go with items that I can easily double so I can feed my family too. I usually do chili and soups. Like you I add a loaf of homemade bread. If I don't have time to cook I go to BJs and get a cooked chicken and some sides. I always try to send some sort of dessert too. Cookies are my baked at home go too. Muffins are a hit too.


Thursday 13th of January 2022

I love bringing meals! I really love that platforms like Meal Train exist, this makes it so easy to coordinate and make sure everyone is aware of dietary restrictions/preferences. You can also see what others are bringing so the afflicted person/new parent doesn’t end up with 2 solid weeks of Baked Ziti. As to what to bring- I am pretty sure this is why casseroles were invented. We jokingly call them Casseroles of Hope around here. A nice shepherd’s pie or chicken pot pie is a great and easy idea. Just double it so you get one as well. A nice roast is also a good idea. For sides, I like to provide baked sweet potatoes and some traditionally cooked green beans (both of these reheat well.) I like to include a loaf of fresh baked bread. Breakfast foods are very welcome. Bring an egg casserole, some muffins, and some fruit. For new moms specifically, I like to bring oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. I add nuts if I know she likes them. Nuts in cookies are so divisive, aren’t they? Anyhow, with a newborn, you need something you can eat with one hand at 3am.

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