Both Emily and I recently had babies (!) and were so super blessed by both our families – as well as by so many friends that brought us meals. I love to cook, but I’ll be the first one to admit it’s hard to cook a meal to take to someone. I think we all think we need to prepare the perfectly packaged homemade meal to take to a new mom, or a needy friend – but in reality we just need to take something. Did you see Emily’s post about showing hospitality? Yep, the same thing goes for your friends that need a little meal :-).
Here are my favorite ideas for taking someone a meal! Definitely leave comments with your favorite ideas and recipes!
Quick Tip: Ask your friend if they have any preferences for meals. You especially want to know if they have allergies – but you also might hear something like, “PLEASE no more lasagnas!” Always good to know.
The Main Dish
When we think about taking someone a meal, it all revolves around the main dish. And, this is where we get stuck. It can be really daunting to try a new recipe or spend hours making a lasagna. Here are some of my favorite ideas:
A Slow Cooker Meal
I love throwing something in the slow cooker for a friend. My favorite meal for this is Aztec Chicken (recipe here). There are just a few ingredients – and takes only 5 minutes to throw in the slow cooker. To serve, just scoop it in an aluminum pan, add a batch of rice (or even pre-cooked rice from the store), and take to a sweet needy family! SO EASY. (By the way this is a easy meal to make for company to when you are showing hospitality.)
Who doesn’t love a good pot of soup? This is an easy one-pot meal that you can just put in a reusable container and bring to your friend. Here’s an easy YUMMY soup recipe that my mom brought to me recently ;-).
My favorite place to buy aluminum pans and plastic containers is the Dollar Store!
A One Pan Dinner
Don’t have a lot of time? Just throw your meat, veggies and starch into ONE pan and cook for an hour. Throw it into an aluminum pan and voila! SO EASY. My favorite recipe here!
Don’t have time to cook? My favorite store-bought options are a Rotisserie Chicken, Stouffer’s Lasagna, a frozen Voila Skillet Meal by Bird’e Eye, or take-out from your favorite restaurant. Often I will be in the grocery store and grab one of these for a friend. You don’t need to be on a meal list to grab something and show up on their doorstep for a quick gift ;-).
The Sides and Dessert
Here’s a little confession. The main dish is so important to bring – but the extras is what make the meal. I LOVE a good meal that has more than just the main dish. I mean, I love soup – but a loaf of bread on the side? YES PLEASE. Here are my favorites:
A Southern refined woman will bring you a custom salad with all the toppings chopped up in separate baggies and salad dressing on the side. I, on the other hand, love to just grab a bag of Romaine a bag of croutons and my favorite Champagne salad dressing. Either way, your friend will have an easy side to top off their meal.
When Emily brought me a pot of soup last year, she brought a bag of hot steamy homemade rolls. Enter heart-eyes emoji here! If you don’t have time for homemade bread, grab a loaf of French Bread from your grocery bakery. Or my favorite – those Water Rolls from a Publix grocery store. These are an easy way to not bring the bare minimum.
Just remember, a new mom or homebound friend does not have the time or ability to go to the grocery store. So even if you just go and grab a store-bought salad and loaf of bread – you are doing them a huge favor! So many times I have received a meal that also stocked my cabinets and freezer. Much love to those generous friends!
A Side Dish
Need to bring a side dish? Throw a batch of rice in your slow cooker, a bunch of broccoli in your steamer, or toss together your favorite salad. These are easy options if you don’t have time for your favorite homemade dish.
Confession. I think a meal needs a dessert. You don’t need to spend hours in the kitchen, but personally I really love something sweet at the end of a meal. Easy options are a batch of brownies, a carton of ice cream, or your favorite chocolate chip cookies. If I don’t have time to make a dessert, I at least stop and grab some ice cream. I mean, who doesn’t love some ice cream in their freezer?
I LOVE getting fun extras with a meal. And, friends that have time to make homemade muffins or chicken salad for lunch always blow me away with the creativity behind their meals. (Also, breakfast and lunch are the forgotten meals – and so many moms need some fresh food for those meals!) Here are fun ideas that I have received that will make you the favorite friend:
- Muffins and breakfast bread (pumpkin, nut, cranberry) — store-bought or homemade
- Chicken salad and Pita chips for lunch
- Snacks like English Muffins and Granola Bars
- Iced Tea or Lemonade
- Fruit Salad
- Hummus, Chips and Salsa, Guacamole, or Cheese Straws
- A Frozen Pizza for an extra meal
- Breakfast items like frozen breakfast burritos, a box of cereal or a pound of coffee
Ok, want to go the extra mile? Here is the deluxe version of what to bring a new mom. (I have actually received this complete set and I will never forget it!):
- Meal with sides (Example: soup, chicken salad, and bread or pita chips)
- Extras (Example: coffee and breakfast bread)
- Gifts for baby (Example: diapers and a cute outfit)
- Gifts for mom (Example: lotion and bath salts)
Let me tell you – this is the most thoughtful gift you can receive as a new mom!
Don’t have time for any of this?
I had several friends send me a card with a gift card to a restaurant – Zoe’s, McAlister’s – a simple Deli or restaurant with take-out is a LIFE-SAVER. Don’t forget that you can simply teat your new mom or homebound friends with a gift card!
Live near an IKEA? My mom once brought me a bag of their frozen meatballs, a jar of their Swedish gravy, their Ligonberry jam, and a package of their Swedish cookies. It was such an incredibly delicious and unique meal!
Make sure you save this post for that next time you need to make a meal for a friend! And, make sure you comment with your favorite ideas and recipes ;-).