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Tips for Making & Taking Food to Those Who are Ill

An ill friend, a neighbor under the weather, or a family in need - these are all reasons for preparing and sharing a meal.

In some cases, you may not know much about their preferences, which makes it more difficult to decide on what dishes to cook. In addition to the food, these simple tips will make the cooking part easier and relieve some of the hassle on the receiving end as well.(Please scroll down for rest of article.)


Fix Something Freezable

It's difficult to judge how much a person eats. They may be hearty consumers even in the worst of times. When preparing food for a family, judging quantities is even more of a challenge. Preparing soups or stews is easier, because you can simply make a double batch. These are easy to freeze and can be heated up in the microwave for convenience. The advantage of freezing is also ideal for those who are undergoing treatments for serious illnesses such as cancer. The person may not feel at all like eating at the moment, but can have something when they're ready.

Cook for Comfort

You can't go wrong with comfort foods. A meatloaf is one of the best; just don't veer too far into gourmet add-ins. Stay with the basics. Don't assume everyone is going to dive into a macaroni and cheese casserole that's laden with fat. If you're considering a pot of soup, add chicken instead of ham for a healthier protein. A batch of beans may be another no-no for the obvious reasons of discomforts after the fact. Black-eyed peas are sometimes safer, but not everyone's favorite. Pasta dishes are nice and a favorite for all ages.

A bread machine can output a couple of loaves in a day and eliminates all of the hard work. You can't go wrong with a double batch of cornbread, either, and it freezes well.

Avoid fresh fruits or items that can't be stored through refrigeration or freezing. This takes the pressure off individuals and families who may want to save items for eating later.

Go for the In-Between Goodies

Think about including foods other than those typically sent for a regular meal. Snacks of homemade muffins or even frozen waffles are a good choice. Many times, those who are planning a food brigade don't give much thought to breakfast.

Variety Without the Spice

Those who are dealing with illness beyond colds, flu, and pneumonia may not find "sick" foods appealing. Keep things mild, but offer a variety that is beyond the norm. Of course, someone dealing with chemo may be on a special diet, but other members in the family will appreciate a taste of something beyond chicken noodle soup on occasion.

A stir-fry with rice would be a good choice and you'll be able to include veggies and chicken or beef, too. Tortilla soups can still be comforting without being bland - or too spicy. Include a bottle of hot sauce for those who want to spice things up.

Go Back to Basics

Keep in mind that sometimes those who are ill and their caretakers simply don't have time to grocery shop. A bag full of the basics will be well appreciated. Include barbecue sauce, ready-made salad dressing and other condiments.

Don't Forget the Sides

Look for interesting and creative ways to prepare veggies. Saute mushrooms, onions, and bell peppers on the side. They can be added to a dish or crisped up quickly in a skillet to smother a hamburger. Mix up a bowl of hummus and provide crisps for dipping.


Just about everyone as a sweet tooth and it's easy enough to fill those needs. However, this is also a good time to look for diet-friendly items, including those that are either sugar-free or with reduced sugar content. Angel food cake is a good choice and it also freezes well. Have a taste test first from your own supply before you deliver. You want to be sure it actually tastes good!

A Final Tip

If you're short on time, but want to help, contact a local restaurant. They'll be happy to provide pricing on bulk food items such as a meatloaf or a brisket. Groceries and delis also will have rotisserie goods that are affordable and quick to pick up.

Go to Part 2 - Tips for Storing and Delivering Meals for Others

Go to Part 3 - Special Considerations for Taking Food to the Bereaved


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