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Dec 21, 2012 07:55 AM

Freezer Food for a Sick Friend

I have a friend who was just diagnosed with very aggressive cancer. Treatment is going to take all of her and her husband's time and energy, and one thing I thought I would do is prepare some homemade food that they can keep in their freezer so that on tough days, they have something they can heat up that isn't fast food, highly processed (frozen dinners) or completely unhealthy. They are omnivores, and her husband is a big meat eater, but vegetarian dishes would be OK as well. I have thought of the obvious, like lasagna, but any other ideas would be welcome. We all live in San Francisco, so access to ingredients is not a problem, and we have lots of services that can deliver fresh food, like lettuce to make a salad, etc., so I'm trying to come up with main course ideas. Thanks in advance for any suggestions!

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  1. all cooked & frozen and just need reheating:

    (key in all --> moisture/sauce/gravy to protect the protein).

    thickly-sliced meatloaf frozen in sauce would be good, in my opinion.

    meatballs in italian red sauce.

    sauerkraut and meatballs (i'm obviously on a meatballs kick, huh?). my mom's recipe here on chowhound is good.

    chili is good, and freezes well.

    chicken cacciatore.

    country captain chicken.

    hearty stews, like beef stew.

    ham and bean soup.

    pork tenderloin slices in sage or rosemary gravy.

    this lima bean and ham salad is AWESOME (though not frozen, it LASTS WELL in fridge).

    another non-frozen item, but good for slicing for sandwiches over a week: slow-roasted, dry-brined eye of round. when properly roasted, it is juicy and tender, though economical.

    uncle ben's "ready rice" varieties in the orange bags would be excellent for your friends to eat. there are lots of options and some variety in the grains, as well.
    wishing your friend the very best for recovery. bless you for helping her and her husband.

    2 Replies
    1. re: alkapal

      those are great suggestions alkapal. having done this for my sister when she was ill and going through chemo, i did all kinds of soups (chicken soup and add chicken breast in the last half hour so it's a one-dish meal, vegetable beef, clam chowder, etc.) and all kinds of stews (beef stew, chicken fricasee, moroccan chicken and olives, etc.). A one-dish meal from freezer to microwave or oven was the easiest for her to handle and she digested better when the protein was small (no big hunks of meat). she also became very salt-sensitive so i tended to go low sodium since she could always add salt and pepper. I also would try to remember when I was cooking something for my family that would freeze well, to make extra and freeze it for her. and i kept her freezer stocked with great sorbets which she found refreshing.

      1. re: teezeetoo

        I agree with teezeetoo about small pieces of protein versus big hunks of meat. Lots of great suggestions here, to which I will add shepherd's pie. In general, things that go down easy without a ton of chewing or a lot of knife work seem to work best in my experience.

    2. French Lentil soup with sausage in a chicken broth base. Frozen into 1 cp. containers makes an easy, single serving meal. Goes well with soba noodles, which cook fast.

      Pasta e Fagioli, also using chicken broth & tomato sauce in the base.

      A friend who was on chemo liked these 2 soups.

      1 Reply
      1. re: lafouchow

        mmm, i like that lentil soup idea. carrabba's has an awesome lentil and sausage soup.

      2. I've been waiting for a friend to have a baby (its inevitable, all my friends are baby makers right now), so I can give something like this Taco Box. I think it would apply to your friend's situation as well.

        I like the idea of it because I'm sure they'll be getting a lot of pasta based dishes. When my dad passed away a lot of people brought food, and we got sick of lasagna and spaghetti and the like.

        Another suggestion is fixings for sandwiches... nice bread, good meats and cheeses, that way they can put together what they feel like eating, without having to turn on the oven or heat up an entire meal. Same for salads, especially if you can have the fresh products delivered to them.

        Some other thoughts are meatloaf (uncooked but frozen), fixings for hamburgers/turkey burgers, hearty soups/stews, and maybe even a few frozen pizzas.

        Also, don't forget things like snacks (granola bars, trail mix/nuts, fruits, cheese & crackers) that they can grab and eat, and also things like drinks (juices, sodas, tea, coffee, whatever it is they drink). Since they won't have time to run out to the store, even the small necessities will be appreciated.

        I hope your friend will have a swift recovery :)

        1. turkey or chicken pot pies, loaded with veggies.

          You may want to consider when preparing anything with a sauce (especially tomato sauce) - keeping and freezing the sauce separate. Some chemo patients find the acid in tomatoes to be unpalatable.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Foody4life

            yes, i guess that is very critical! but it makes freezing successfully much harder. i suppose the foods will be used rather quickly, so freezer damage is not such an issue.

          2. Thanks everyone for the tips so far. I did not know about the acid in the tomatoes either. If anyone else has any other observations about chemo patients specifically and what kind of foods might be good or bad for her, please let me know. I know her husband will eat anything I make, but I want it to palatable for my friend too!

            2 Replies
            1. re: farmersdaughter

              Find out from the husband if there is anything the doctor has told her is off limits and find out if her tastes are changing or if she's having difficulty with certain foods. There are a lot of really good articles online about cooking for people with cancer and what seems to work and what doesn't. A lot will depend on the treatment. Some people get sore throats from chemo, others have GI issues, some need extra calories added in the form of heavy cream, peanut better, etc. because of the loss of appetite, some need added protein, etc.

              1. re: farmersdaughter

                Also, throughout treatment there may be times when the patient is neutropenic (low white cell count). Most raw foods (think sushi), some meats, uncooked fruits and veggies, some cheese and dairy etc will be restricted during this neutropenic period.

                More info here:

                Here's an older thread that may be of interest: