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Food Preparation Ideas for the Bereaved

Preparing and delivering food to bereaved families is somewhat different that making a meal for someone who is ill.

Other considerations include types of dishes and the lack of ability to coordinate who brings what and when. Here are a few tips that will make the gift of food a bit easier on the grieving family.(Please scroll down for rest of article.)


Throwaways are at the top of the list when delivering foods. They're easy to reheat and can be an all-in-one holder for freezing, too. Even better, they don't have to be returned. Make that clear when you drop them off.

Think about making foods that are diet-specific. In times of grieving, cooks often prepare that they believe to be comfort foods full of fat and starches. Substitute with low-fat and low sugar dishes that will please everyone.

Always include serving utensils. Purchase the plastic kinds that don't have to be returned. A family's home with an abundance of food on the table certainly won't have enough oversized spoons and forks for each selection.

Purchase a large batch of sturdy plastic or paper plates, along with nice table napkins. Add heavy-duty forks, knives, and spoons that can be thrown away.

Provide beverages rather than food. Prepare a container of iced tea, bring bottled water in individual serving sizes, and perhaps a large thermos of coffee.

Keep the aftermath in mind. In many cases, family members may plan to stay a few days if they have traveled longer distances. This can cause a burden long after the initial rush of food has disappeared. Prepare freezable items such as a breakfast quiche or homemade waffles that will be easy to prepare.

If bringing foods that require combining, always deliver in separate containers. For instance, a salad will look droopy long before its time if the dressing is added beforehand.

A Final Tip

Because it is customary to bring food to a grieving family, they may go into overload. There simply may be no room to safely store the dishes on hand and some may go to waste. If possible, call ahead and state that you're preparing a specific dish, rather than asking if there's anything you can bring. You'll know if plenty of food has already arrived. Offer alternatives, such as breads, rolls and muffins. Sometimes these items are left out in the planning.

Suggest that you'd like to prepare a meal at a later date. Perhaps in a week or so. If you know that family members are staying longer, you can also offer to bring food at a specific time in a couple of days. It will be greatly appreciated.

Go to Part 1 - Tips for Food to Take to the ill
Go to Part 2 - Tips for Storing and Delivering Meals for Others


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