Food for the soul: meals to nourish friends in need

What do you make for a friend who just had a baby? What about the neighbour who's going through a tough time? Today, we're talking about how to make a meal that will nourish friends in need (and survive a doorstep drop-off).

Photo credit: Emma Christensen for The Kitchn (

Whether they've just had a baby or are just dealing with hard times, there's a tasty art to supporting our friends through food.  Today, we’re walking you through the basics of creating a meal for another family that’s sturdy enough to survive a short wait on their doorstep, and nourishing enough to get them through anything.

If you’ve ever had a friend drop off food for you when you were recovering from an illness, or a new baby—chances are good you remember vividly how grateful you were. When things aren’t business-as-usual, meals can become a burden. But food is powerful, especially if you’re in crisis—it helps you keep your strength up and your stress levels manageable.

Cooking for a friend is also a great learning opportunity for your kids: it shows them how families and neighbours take care of each other in times of crisis, and it gives them a way to show they care.

Here are some of our favourite rules of thumb for a meal drop-off:

  • Aimee from Simple Bites advises: don’t bug your friend with questions about food preferences. They don’t need extra things to do. Instead, avoid common allergens—like peanuts—and keep food restrictions in mind (for example, many religions do not eat pork) until you’ve had a chance to catch up with your friend at a calmer time.

  • The drop-and-text approach is a tactful way to leave meals without putting your friend in a position to worry about how they look/how their house looks/putting together full sentences: simply leave a well-wrapped meal on their doorstep and send a text to let them know you’ve left them a little something at their door.

  • Leave your meals in containers you don’t need back.

  • Make your contribution a main meal that can stand to be reheated a couple of times. It’s true: casseroles fit that bill, but after a few days of casseroles you’ll find your friends are excited to eat...oh, just about anything else. Shake things up with quiche, stew, enchiladas, pasta e fagioli (a.k.a. pasta fazool), tortilla pie, ratatouille...or your family’s favourite comfort food!

  • Include power snacks like muffins, energy balls, no-bake granola bars and oatmeal cookies. New moms will especially appreciate these protein-packed one-handed snacks (and for more ideas, we love this post from The Kitchn) .

  • Add fresh fruits and veggies (think washed and sliced fresh fruit like strawberries; salads; or even sliced veggies and dip) People get inundated with cakes and pies, but fresh food really does help you feel better faster.  

  • Throw in tasty extras: a box of mixed crackers, trail mix or hard boiled eggs make great snacks the next day, and it’ll help to switch up snack time.

  • Finally, consider organizing your meal drop-offs with fellow friends: free apps like Meal Train let friends coordinate dinners and ensure your pals stay well-fed until they’re back on their feet.  

If there’s a tip we missed here, we’d love to hear about it! Tell us about it on Facebook or Twitter: we’ll be posting more comforting meals every day on Twitter this October, and we’d love to hear from you.

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