30 Meal Ideas to Support Those in Need

Meals brought to friends and neighbors in a time of need can convey so much - from “Congratulations” to “Sorry for Your Loss”, “Get Well Soon”, or “Let Me Help.” When you want to show that you care during a challenging life event, these 30 meal ideas really hit the spot.

Make sure to ask if anyone you are serving follows special diets, including food allergies or sensitives. This list includes options that you can easily customize for vegetarians, vegans and those with gluten free diets. If you are helping to coordinate meals for the family, use a sign up form to create a schedule that is easy to share with others.

Send kindness vibes with foods prepared with love. Bon Appétit! 

  1. Spaghetti Dinner - Pack up ingredients for a delicious spaghetti supper or prepare a homemade meat (or vegetarian) sauce and pasta. Make picky eaters happy and serve sauce and cooked noodles separately. Serve with salad and bread.
  1. Chicken Pot Pie – Lift their spirits with chicken, veggies and biscuits in a creamy sauce. Freeze individual pies for a quick take and bake option. 
  1. Chili - Hearty and delicious, a big pot of chili is sure to be a winner. Make it in a crockpot or separate smaller portions for freezing. Include toppings and a box of spaghetti noodles for a Cincinnati classic.
  1. Burritos - Prepare chicken, beef, bean or cheese burritos and bring the fixings separately so every family member can make it just the way they like it. Include rice, beans, sour cream, avocados, salsa and other filling options. 
  1. Breakfast Casserole - Treat the family to breakfast any time with a yummy casserole. Go vegetarian with eggs, hash browns, cheese, peppers and onions or make meat lovers happy with sausage and bacon.
  1. BBQ – BBQ is easy to make in a crockpot and is a delicious dish that can last for several days. Include buns and slaw for succulent sandwiches all week long. 
  1. Chicken Noodle Soup - Nothing says “get better soon” like a steamy pot of chicken noodle soup. Load it up with big chunks of chicken and veggies. Pack the noodles separately so they won’t get soggy. 
  1. Macaroni and Cheese - Deliver a big casserole dish of bubbly macaroni and cheese and make their day! Perfect as a side dish or add hamburger to make it the main meal.
  1. Shepherd's Pie - Simple, impressive, and easy to freeze - this classic meat, potato, vegetable trio is an easy go-to dish. 
  1. Meatloaf – Serve the ultimate comfort food by make individual meatloaves in a muffin tin. Include extra sauce for dipping!
  1. Pot Roast - Show them you care with a dish of shredded meat, carrots and potatoes in a lip-smacking sauce. Deliver it warm with crusty bread to sop up the leftovers.
  1. Lasagna - Layers of warm, filling goodness? Yes, please. It’s easy to customize the dish with vegan (or gluten free) noodles and sliced vegetables.
  1. Quiche - Go classic with ham and cheese or make a spinach, onion and mushroom filling as a meat free option. Perfect for breakfast or late night, this dish checks all the boxes.
  1. Stuffed Peppers - This nutritious meal in an edible shell comes together with minimal effort. Use green, red or yellow peppers (or all three). Stuff with ground beef or turkey or vegan-friendly filling and rice. Top with tomato sauce and bake.
  1. Chicken Salad - Easy to assemble for a quick lunch, dinner or protein-filled snack on the go. Make your own or pick up a pint from a deli or specialty store. Include croissants, crackers and grapes.
  1. Swedish Meatballs - Cook meatballs in the crockpot and load up the sauce. Include rice or noodles and a delicious dinner is served. 
  1. Salad - After a few days of hospital food, fresh greens are a welcome sight! Fill disposable pans with different kinds of greens and send with protein, traditional toppings and homemade dressings.
  1. Loaded Baked Potatoes - Surprise them with baked potatoes and all the fixings needed to make an in-house baked potato bar including bacon bits, cheese, sour cream, chives, salsa and more.
  1. Chicken and Dumplings - Part soup, part stew and 100 percent flavorful, this dish will get a thumbs up from kids and adults. 
  1. Fried Chicken - Perfect hot or cold, a box of fried chicken is always a quick and delicious answer. Make your own or pick up and deliver to their front door. Throw in biscuits for the win. 
  1. Charcuterie Plate - Pick out cheeses, meats, pickled veggies, crackers, fruit and other goodies - everything needed for a tasty charcuterie meal. Pair with a bottle of wine for the adults and include a box of mac and cheese for the kids!
  1. Sloppy Joes - Meat (or meat substitute) and luscious sauce come together to create this warm sandwich they will gobble up. Include buns and slices of cheese!
  1. Rotisserie Chicken and Sides - Short on time? Don’t panic. Pick up a rotisserie chicken, green beans in a steamer bag, heat and serve mashed potatoes, dessert and a variety of dipping sauces. Done!
  1. Jambalaya - Mix and match your favorites for this one-pot meal! Stir in rice, meat (chicken, sausage, shrimp) vegetables (onions, bell peppers, celery) and spices for an unforgettable dish. 
  1. Stuffed Shells - Fill shell pasta with cheese, spinach and/or beef and top with mozzarella or classic red sauce.
  1. Turkey Dinner - Bring comfort and cheer with a fully cooked turkey dinner with all the fixings. If there aren’t as many people to feed, a turkey breast works just as well. 
  1. Subs- After several nights of heavy meals, subs to the rescue! Pack sliced bread or sub rolls, cold cuts, cheeses, toppings, chips and pickles. Hot or cold, sandwiches make a quick meal or can be packed for a school lunch.
  1. Beans and Rice - Yummy and delicious! Make a big pot of kidney beans, black beans or cannellini beans and white or brown rice. Include sausage or chicken on the side.
  1. Pizza Kit - Kids love this DIY meal! Purchase pizza dough or a ready-made crust, pizza sauce, mozzarella cheese and other classic toppings. They’ll have fun making their own custom pie!
  1. Chicken Fried Rice - Mix cooked chicken, rice and a bag of soup veggies in a skillet and season with soy or teriyaki sauce. Include egg rolls, fortune cookies and chopsticks.
These thoughtful (and filling) gestures will be long remembered well after the last bite!

Courtney McLaughlin is a freelance writer in Charlotte, N.C. She gratefully shares her life, home and heart with her daughter and their dog.?