What Casserole/Food/Gift to you bring to support your friends/family?
October 19, 2018 10:37 AM   Subscribe

When your friends/family are grieving/have a new child / etc, it's tradition around here to bring cookies, or a few frozen meals or crock-pot-ready meals in bags, around and a few weeks after the event. What do you bring? What's your favorite recipe for this? Do you expect to get your dish(s) back?
posted by bbqturtle to Food & Drink (19 answers total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
I always bring in a disposable dish. I think it's best to make it obvious I don't expect the dish back, don't expect them to keep track of it, wash it etc. Dollar tree is a great place for disposable dishes and I always have some in the house.

I have brought lasagnas; rice + meatballs; and for vegetarians this spinach pan quiche. Also this salad is very nice because it keeps reasonably well (somewhat better if the cilantro is omitted;) and is brightly flavored and crunchy, in contrast to most "brought" foods. It's better with the fish sauce but is still good, and made vegetarian, without it.
posted by fingersandtoes at 10:41 AM on October 19, 2018 [5 favorites]

I remember as a child visiting a house a few months after they'd had a baby, and the mom had a sideboard with all the tupperware and glass casseroles people had dropped off laid out on it. Everyone who visited, she'd ask them to please take back whatever was theirs. Some of them probably had been labelled as to the owner and returned, but there was a lot left over.

These days, I agree with fingersandtoes -- you can buy plastic containers or foil containers for things that need to bake in the oven for a dollar, and that's a lot easier than trying to get things back where they came from.
posted by jacquilynne at 10:55 AM on October 19, 2018 [1 favorite]

Lasagne in a foil tray has been our standard for friends with new babies. It's freezable and filling. I have also just cooked an extra pan of roasted chicken and vegetables and put it in tupperware - feeding ourselves and friends is scalable that way. Since we also have a toddler, it helps if I don't have to cook a whole other meal, just make more.
posted by Lawn Beaver at 10:57 AM on October 19, 2018 [2 favorites]

Disposable container, definitely.

Last time I did this, I was bringing stuff for a family that doesn't eat gluten, and I did jambalaya, a big fruit salad, and ice cream for dessert. It seemed to go over well. I might do jambalaya or some other rice-based casserole in the future, just to give the recipients a break from pasta-based casseroles.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 11:17 AM on October 19, 2018 [1 favorite]

Disposables, for sure, and I usually pre-portion for 1-2 people per container for freezing.

What I make depends a lot of season, circumstance, and recipient's dietary restrictions. Common options are chili (regular or vegan), grilled chicken and a vegetable gratin, pulled pork with a bag of buns and bottle of BBQ sauce, egg muffins or egg casserole.
posted by Lyn Never at 11:32 AM on October 19, 2018

I'm recently big on making a big frittata and cutting it into servings that are frozen in a gallon zip lock. I like how you can grab one portion to reheat or make a couple if more people are eating.
posted by advicepig at 11:44 AM on October 19, 2018 [1 favorite]

Don't make food. Everyone brings food and either

A. Your mom just died and you can't eat and anyone who expects you to return their specific snowflake casserole dish is an asshole because you probably just threw the whole thing out with 97 of it's friends;


B. You just pushed an entire other human out of your vagina and it is stuck to your boob 24/7 and anyone who thinks you have time to heat a casserole is mainlining smack and why does nobody just bring single serve burritos, almonds for nursing support, and 300 containers of salsa with 300 bags of chips?

So I vote food delivery gift cards.
posted by DarlingBri at 11:47 AM on October 19, 2018 [7 favorites]

I make a crap ton of soup and freeze it in disposable containers like this. You can write on them in Sharpie.

I just did this with family who are grieving. For four nights before I visited them in another state, I spent each night making a different kind of soup:

- Turkey chili with black beans - Use your favorite chili recipe. Mine isn't written down. I use cocoa and chipotle and cumin and a lot of stuff in mine.
- Lemon chicken orzo soup with dill like this one
- Butternut-sweet potato-coconut soup with cumin and coriander - I make this one up but it's essentially roasted veggies I then saute and combine with a stick mixer, then add chicken broth and coconut milk. Make sure to deepen the flavor of any veggie soup with roasted or sauteed garlic!
- Chicken chili verde with potatoes like this one

I labeled the containers with all the ingredients, figuring at least some of them would go straight into the freezer and the contents forgotten.

Each of two branches of the family got 7 quarts of soup. (i.e., 7 of those freezable containers) I just got my first "OH MY GOD THIS IS JUST WHAT I NEEDED" text about the lemon chicken orzo.
posted by ImproviseOrDie at 11:48 AM on October 19, 2018 [11 favorites]

If you can afford to, consider outsourcing it. Our neighbor gave us a Honeybaked Ham and a bunch of Hawaiian rolls, which seemed a little nuts at first but was our favorite thing. After a sudden event and with a chaotic few days, something quick and easy from the fridge like a ham sandwich is a nice luxury. And there's no dishes to worry about.
posted by AgentRocket at 11:59 AM on October 19, 2018 [7 favorites]

Burritos are a great idea. Can heat a single one, can eat with one hand!
posted by advicepig at 12:01 PM on October 19, 2018 [2 favorites]

Totally seconding those who mentioned single-serving or other smaller containers, as well as food that doesn't generate dishes or other work. for me it wasn't so much the cooking I needed help with as it was dishes.

In my case I was living alone after my loss and so larger casseroles were logistically overwhelming. I had to decide about freezing or thawing these huge blocks of food, and find enough smaller containers of my own to store leftovers. Plus once you thaw one thing you feel like you have to keep eating that until it's gone which can get tedious.

The best thing I remember is someone gave me a tray of wraps, ham and cream cheese and some sort of slaw rolled up in tortillas and then sliced into 'pinwheels'. It was easy to grab as many or as few as I needed, and there was no reheating or dirty dishes needed. It's something that would probably work for kids and could easily be customised to the tastes of the recipients.
posted by buildmyworld at 12:07 PM on October 19, 2018 [1 favorite]

I usually go to M&M Meats and get a pan of cannelloni or lasagna. Either that or a meat pie and Caesar salad from Costco. As nice as it is to deliver something hand made with love, I can be a little more certain that my kids' armies of bacteria haven't gotten in to the pre-made stuff, and the recipient can just recycle the tray.
posted by arcticwoman at 1:03 PM on October 19, 2018 [2 favorites]

My go-to for new moms are black bean & sweet potato or plantain empanadas. You can deliver them in a ziploc bag with a separate jar of salsa and no one has to worry about dishes. They're good for eating with one hand, they warm up easily in the microwave, and they freeze well. They are also very easy to adjust for dietary restrictions. They're a little labor intensive but I'll set an afternoon aside, crank out a few dozen, and freeze what I need to.

I have also brought big containers of this sweet potato, kale, and peanut soup and it's always a hit. It's vegan and gluten free as well if your loved ones have sensitive diets: https://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2016/03/west-african-inspired-vegan-peanut-sweet-potato-soup-recipe.html
posted by marshmallow peep at 1:38 PM on October 19, 2018 [3 favorites]

Chicken and broccoli baked with a cheese sauce. (Chicken Divan.)
Freezes well.
Disposable dish.
posted by SLC Mom at 1:50 PM on October 19, 2018 [1 favorite]

My go-to has typically been quiche, because it's filling, can be healthy, can be vegetarian or not, and can be eaten for any meal. Also freezes ok. And if you make it with a premade pie crust, then you just put saran wrap over the top and no one has to worry about returning a container.

Oh, also, a friend who gave birth to 3 children in 5 years once told me it's always best to give things that can be eaten by hand if possible, and/or packaged in individual serving portions. Because if the mom is stuck at home all day with a nursing baby and maybe a toddler, she might not have time to sort lunch for herself and it's nice to be able to just grab something from the freezer, heat it up, and eat it while she nurses/plays with the older kid/whatever. So now I always cut the quiche into pieces before wrapping it. (I don't wrap the pieces separately though)
posted by lunasol at 2:01 PM on October 19, 2018

Most of my food delivery is for families with a new baby. I do a lot of breakfast and lunch stuff because dinner is frequently covered! Fiber rich not too sweet muffins, breakfast sandwiches to be heated, sliced bagels with toppings, a scramble to be used in tortillas or with toast. Cut up fruit. Juk or Congee has been a big hit with friends who like savory breakfast. Lunch and snack things like hard boiled eggs, peeled. Tuna salad. Sometimes I’ll just pull apart a whole rotisserie chicken so they don’t have to deal with the bones (I’ll make broth!) and make a salad dressing in a mason jar and take bagged salad. Washed and cut veggies for eating with salad or tuna or whatever. Lactation cookies (just oatmeal chocolate chip with some ground flax seed and nutritional yeast). Trail mix or snack mix. Banana bread with chocolate chips that can double as breakfast or dessert. I pre slice or cut up anything I take. And always disposable trays/containers.
posted by Swisstine at 3:25 PM on October 19, 2018 [1 favorite]

Depends on the occasion. Often vegetarian or turkey chili with lots of protein things and vegetables in it. UNLESS the person lives alone and is breastfeeding or otherwise attached to a baby - in which case something non-drippy and calorie dense that they can hold in one hand (like empanadas). Always also something good for breakfast - egg and veg and cheese breakfast burritos or mini quiches, usually.

Edited to add that I hardly ever use recipes, so sorry I'm no help in that regard!
posted by centrifugal at 7:58 PM on October 19, 2018

Chicken tortilla soup in disposable container with a note indicating that it can be frozen. Cilantro and chopped jalapeno in a baggy so folks can add these to taste.

A couple of loaves of freshly made (ideally, still warm) bread, which can also be frozen.

(Did so just this week.)

Edited to add this was funeral related, not for a new mom.
posted by she's not there at 12:36 AM on October 20, 2018

Seconding healthy muffins as they are available all day, for drop in company or breakfast, or whatever. Also, sandwich makings - meat, cheese slices, buns, etc.
posted by Enid Lareg at 6:01 PM on October 20, 2018

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