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May 21, 2013 07:47 AM

Ideas for meals taken to sick friend and family

I'd welcome links to prior discussions, too. What meals do you take to a family who has major illness?

I've volunteered to be part of a group that will rotate taking an evening meal to a friend (5-person family, including a teenage boy) who is undergoing cancer treatment. Restrictions are no onions, no fish. I can contact her but want to have a narrowed set of questions / options -- she's got enough else going on.

The dilemma for me is that she lives an hour away (the other side of major metro area), so I'll need to use insulated containers for transport and if hot probably have it in re-heatable dishes that I leave there.

I'm thinking of items I might take to potlucks -- those that transport / keep well. Two that come to mind are a hamburger/bean casserole, with biscuits. And a "Chinese Coleslaw" cold shredded cabbage/diced chicken/slivered almonds/ramen noodles.

I also found a thread here on CH for foil packet meals and wonder whether preparing those cold/raw and supplying the cooking/heating instructions would add some variety.

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  1. For transport, start w/ this as a base but vary the vegetables to what you can find. I go heavy on the vegetables. I like thighs better than breast.

    I recently made chicken chili and meatloaf for someone, in aluminum loaf pans. Both are easy to reheat.

    If you don't already have one, these insulated containers are perfect for keeping food hot and cold for transport. If I'm leaving the dish, I'll use disposable containers.

    I bought mine on a whim and use it far more than I thought I would.

    2 Replies
    1. re: chowser

      Puzzled by the recipe you linked to -- the only veggies shown are red peppers and asparagus, but commenters mentioned lettuce, cabbage, etc. Do you usually add a leaf vegetable to the salad?

      And thanks also for the transport container suggestion.

      1. re: MidwesternerTT

        No, I use green beans, corn, peas, slivers of carrots, artichoke hearts, whatever I have for the peppers and asparagus. It's good w/ both of them, too, but I go w/ what's available. And, I double up on them.

    2. Some things that have worked well for me in a similar situation (although shorter transport distance):

      coq au vin (minus the onion, it is just onion or all members of the allium family? could you use shallots?), french bread, salad

      roast chicken (could be a rotisserie one you pick up near their house), mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans

      baked ziti with or without sausage, garlic bread, salad

      a nice small ham with picnic-type sides: potato salad, cole slaw, bean salad, rolls (this is really nice for leftovers)

      quiche and soup and fruit salad

      And of course I tend to forget dessert because I don't like it but when I cared for a friend undergoing chemo sometimes that is all she wanted. My approach with her was any calorie is pretty much a good calorie, just take a vitamin pill. She survived both my dubious nursing care and the cancer -- 17 years and counting, thankfully.

      In general, comforting foods, nothing spicy, best if all it takes is reheating and if the leftovers will work for lunches. You are a good friend to do this!

      1 Reply
      1. re: GretchenS

        Great suggestions. The ham or a chicken with picnic sides sounds perfect, if they haven't had one recently (with Memorial Day weekend upcoming before my meal delivery, they may be picnic'd out) I'll be asking about that. And because I love to bake cookies and they freeze well, I'll offer to bring a couple dozen of two different flavors.

        Their calendar requests for meals extend through June, so I expect to use more than a few ideas from this kind group at CH.

      2. I would suggest a really delicious soup like potato leek with bacon or tomato bisque, some baguettes, and good butter. You could add some cookies and a simple salad for a full meal.

        1. If the family likes Mexican food maybe a pan of homemade sour cream chicken enchiladas(not too spicy) and a side of refried beans(canned doctored with butter are very good) topped with cheese. A bag of tortilla chips and a jar of good hot sauce for the others. Container of sour cream and a few avocados on the side. Nothing wrong with placing a few store bought items in there. And I would send everything in disposable containers or things you don't need back.

          2 Replies
          1. re: miss_belle

            great point about disposable containers, I always try to do that too

            1. re: miss_belle

              You can get a three pack of those throw away metal containers with lids that you crimp down at dollar tree. If you do those ziploc containers write "OK to toss" on the bottom if you don't care if you get them back or "West Family" if you want them back. That will ease the container confusion.

            2. A few thoughts, having seen two family members go through different types of chemo:

              1. The person going through treatment may find food tasting very different depending on how long they've been getting chemo. My father was on a regimen that dulled his sense of taste; he chewed parsley before eating to help that, and it worked for him. My mom started cooking food with stronger flavor profiles: homemade pasta with basil and garlic pesto was a favorite.

              2. Some chemo drugs will cause mouth sores (usually a bit later in treatment), so extremely hot/extremely cold food can be problematic, as can foods that are somewhat acidic and/or sharply spicy.

              These are not hard and fast rules-- chemo affects everyone a little bit differently-- but I would recommend foods that travel and can be served warm or at room temperature. The ideas so far are great: Covered dishes with chicken and veggies, meatloaf, cream soups (not piping hot!), creamy pastas and pasta salads. Protein, fat (not excessive), good energy sources-- food to nourish the body for the fight.

              You're a great friend-- she'll appreciate your time and effort!