Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Ask the Internet: Best Meals to Bring the Laid Up?

Hey folks! Today’s question is inspired by chilly, sneezy weather in the Northeast.

Q: We’ve all had loved ones confined to pregnancy bedrest or a few days of quiet recovery from surgery. And during those times, it’s tough for them to put clothes on, never mind cook.

So, what are your favorite make-ahead or freezer-ready dishes to bring laid up friends and family?

A: Readers, I don’t have much experience in this area, though I’ve made a few chilis that folks seem to appreciate. What are your best all-time healing meals?

Want to ask the interweb a question? Post one in the comment section, or write to Cheaphealthygood@gmail.com. Then, tune in next Tuesday for an answer/several answers from the good people of the World Wide Net.

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27 comments:

Annie said...

One-dish meals are great for this, especially those that freeze/reheat well. Tuna casserole, lasagna, (really any baked pasta), or mac and cheese are all good options.

Northside Food said...

I have a recipe for Baked Applesauce Oatmeal on my blog. I think a big casserole dish of that would make anyone feel better.

http://northsidefood.blogspot.com/2010/01/baked-applesauce-oatmeal.html

Myrnie said...

I haven't "re-made" this recipe to be socially acceptable...but it was the best thing I'd ever tasted. A friend brought it over after my second baby came- it stayed moist and just hit the spot! Basically, a casserole dish full of white rice, topped with a mixture of shredded chicken, poppy seeds, and canned cream of mushroom soup, and sour cream, and then topped with a sleeve of Ritz crackers, crushed. Right now it doesn't sound that great, but in my sleep-deprived and calorie-deficient state that was just the best thing ever. It freezes great too, and with all that condensed soup it never dried out even when I was microwaving it at 2 am, 3 days later. Here's a recipe http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Betsys-Poppy-Seed-Chicken/Detail.aspx

Rachel @ tamingthetart said...

I think the key is to make a comfort food that still has lots of nutritional value. Although it's tempting to indulge when we're not feeling our best, our bodies need nutrition most during these times of recovery. I like lentil soup myself. Spices can be adjusted depending on the ailment (I like heat when my nose is stuffy, for example). You can also "healthify" old standbys. Use whole-wheat pasta, yogurt, and veggies in a mac and cheese. The same adjustments can be made for lasagna and other baked pastas (like Annie recommended). Rather than cut out cheese and butter, I prefer to round them out with veggies. Comfort + nutrition = recovery!

martha said...

Our church has a "Heaven's Pantry" for this purpose and I like to take the Chicken ala King from the 'Once a Month Cookbook'. I send the frozen package with noodles to cook, but it is good on rice , biscuits, or even toast. It is also good thinned with chicken stock for soup!

Anna N said...

Lasagna is excellent! We do that one a lot in my family because we're vegetarian, but even picky non-vegetarian eaters like lasagna.

Also: soups (the ones that spring to mind for me are butternut squash soup, this red lentil soup, potato-leek, or minestrone), or enchiladas. I would be really excited to get any of these if I was sick.

Emily said...

My father just passed away and we had a lot of people wanting to bring us meals. The BEST thing that we had was someone who organized a site for us on takethemameal.com

You could have people sign up for certain days (so that the person doesn't get 5 dishes one day, and none the next week) and the people who sign up can also say what they're bringing (so that they don't get lasagna 3 days in a row).

From my experience, limit the amount of sweets that you bring (it seems to be the thing that people bring most of) and think to bring some snacky items too. The person may not be feeling like a full plate of lasagna, but they might like a small bowl of fruit salad.

Jennifer said...

When my friend had her first child, someone recommended soup as a good food to eat - easy to grab and can be a complete nutritional package. She raved over this Meatball Soup that I found on Epicurious: Escarole and Little Meatball Soup

I used homemade chicken stock and subbed kale for the escarole. It's become a winter staple in my own soup rotation, and if I'm feeling generous, I'll give a quart to my friend.

Sassy Molassy said...

My version of chicken tortilla (we call it "Mexican chicken) soup. One of my friends said it was all she wanted to eat while confined to bed on IV antibiotics from a severe, massive infection. It's highly nutritious, but also comforting and yummy. Basically I sautee a crapload of onion, garlic, carrots, bell peppers, and chiles in a little olive oil, add a large can of diced tomatoes (or Rotel), a cooked shredded chicken and its broth (any variation of cooked chicken and broth will work if you don't have time to boil a whole chicken and skim broth), and about a cup and a half of brown rice. (Cook rice separately while you start the soup if time is a factor, let it boil in the soup if not but it will absorb a lot of the broth if you do it this way).

Anonymous said...

Chicken Pot Pie (only put crust on the top and I use the premade prerolled crusts). Nothing better than some comfort food.

It is different than the usual baked pasta dishes that seem to be the common choice.

Gabrielle said...

Lasagna, Chicken parmesan, chili, chicken pot pie, and other comfort foods always seem to be a big hit. I also love to bring a hashbrown casserole for the family to pop in the freezer and pull out one Saturday morning for a nice, hot breakfast.

I've also made and been the recipient of a number of freezer meals. Over the course of a month, as I cooked for my own family, I took the time to cook for another family too, since they were expecting their 5th child. A week before the baby arrived, I brought them 3 or 4 very large casserole dishes full of meals I'd cooked for them over the month. A friend did this for me when my first child was born, and it was quite a generous blessing.

Whatever you do, don't forget the veggies, especially after a baby is born! New moms need those vitamins even more than the rest of us, and if she's nursing, you can bet she's got a huge appetite.

Anonymous said...

Why not the good old chicken noodle soup? Its iconic for a reason! I made some for a friend who just had surgery, and I figured she might have a slightly queezy stomach because of the pain killers. It worked out great for me as well, because I promptly came down with a nasty cough and so I've been having the part that I kept for lunches. The recipe comes from the book "The Sharper Your Knife, The Less You Cry" (good book btw) and it's just called chicken noodle soup with garlic, or something like that. It is a fabulous recipe and I use whole wheat wide egg noodles in it. Yumm. I almost want to get sick sometimes just so I have an excuse to make it. I also sometimes make "Ginger Chicken Soup with Vegetables" from real simple. You can find it on their website.

chacha1 said...

I haven't actually had a friend in this situation, but if I were I would offer some chowder. I make a bitchin chowder.

Start with a mirepoix. Season with chervil & tarragon. Add canned potatoes, cream of anything soup (leek, asparagus, or broccoli are really good), a bag of mixed frozen peas/carrots/corn, some milk, a dash of good dry sherry, and a hearty amount of separately-cooked, diced protein, poultry being most easily digestible for the delicate diner. Simmer till well integrated.

Beth said...

Does a few visits from Molly Maids count as a meal? I would want that.

Autumn609 said...

We had just moved to our new house and the kitchen was hiding behind the mountains of boxes the movers helpfully put in the kitchen. Apparently my message that if it says "kitchen" put in "dining room" didn't get passed onto everyone.

Our new neighbors bought us boston market. Enough for a family of 6 for a week. We are 2 people. It was so wonderful and nice and easy to not have to cook dinner and some lunches for a couple of days while I dug out the kitchen. Normally I'm a homemade food kind of girl, but I loved not having to think, just microwave.

For a friend I might follow my neighbors lead but do a roast chicken with some potatoes, carrots with salad and dressing on the side. Something easy on the invalid's tummy, but still interesting for the well members of the family/household

Elizabeth said...

While everyone loves some mac and cheese, I usually take paper products, like plates, forks, toilet paper, etc. A long time ago, when my grandfather passed away, someone did that for us and my parents have been grateful for it for the past 15 years. Everyone brought food, but with so many people in the house, we had nothing to put it on. And who really wants to do dishes anyways?

Dee Seiffer said...

I usually make roast chicken and root veges + a simple green salad.

A Jewish friend told me about her baby shower many years ago. Since Jews don't bring home any baby items before the baby is born, her co-workers all brought meals for her to freeze as their shower gifts. She was thrilled and had several weeks' worth of dinners for after she had the baby.

Kelly said...

We've taken a very 'american-ized' Pad Thai dish to friends who have recently had babies and they've all said they loved it, even the non-adventurous ones! The trick to it is to add a ton of veggies - peas, carrots, broccoli whatever you've got, AND most importantly, add peanut butter to the sauce while you are heating it up - winner every time!

sherri said...

Seems obvious but basic chicken soup with vegetables because it freezes and reheats well and nothing feels better than hot soup. Depending on your sick type - onion soup- amazing! I think it would be cool to bring over a prepped crock pot and let it cook all day for them, but then again their house would be embedded with the cooked all day smell.
Also, I always bring spaghetti and homemade meatballs to the cassarole fundraiser and it flies off the shelf. Carb loading is good when you're laid up. Great question and great answers by your readers.

wosnes said...

I like to take a soup, stew or other one-dish meal. I'm particularly fond of Ina Garten's recipe for chicken stew. She pairs it with biscuits or uses it as a filling for chicken pot pie (it reminds me of a fresh, better tasting version of Swanson's chicken pot pie). I've made both chicken and noodles and chicken and dumplings from it.

Susan Hagen said...

Cold roast chicken with sides.
Home made soup, chicken or vegetable beef.
Beef stew
Cut up fresh fruit

windy said...

A friend of mine had morning sickness for months on end with each of her pregnancies and begged me for a simple homemade granola, pretty sure I got it from Ellie Krieger. She claimed it was perfect to eat by the meager handful when she couldn't handle anything else. After the babies were born, she renewed the request for the i-don't-have-the-brain-cells-to-feed-myself moments. Plus a big 'ol batch of granola lasts forever and doesn't take up fridge or freezer space.

As far as other fridge/freezable comforts- my family leans on our Cajun roots when we are under the weather. Gumbo, red beans and rice and Jambalaya-all heavy on the veg, lighter on the meats (and the spice, depending on the ailment)- can be made in vats and they only get better after being in the fridge for a few days.

Anonymous said...

Looks like the caseroles and main dishes are covered. I'm in a stay at home moms club and for the new momsI like to give cookies. I make a batch of drop cookies (usually oatmeal w/mini m&ms, choc chip or sugar) portion them with a cookie scoop, bake some and then freeze the cookie balls for the recipient to bake later. Label the freezer bag w/directions, date and type of cookie. Who doesn't love fresh from the oven home made cookies? It's especially nice to do for moms who have new babies with older siblings that can 'help' bake (and eat)the cookies.

LOVE the paper product idea! Peggy

Steff said...

How about pre-prepped foil packet dinners? I've never given this to anyone, but I bet it would work out well. Especially for those times when only one or two need to eat and don't want to throw it a whole casserole.
Just throw some sort of meat, produce and spices in foil and wrap it up tight. All they have to do it put it in the oven on a cookie sheet for an hour.
Most recently I did it with pork chops, spaghetti squash, apples, cinnamon, cloves and brown sugar, but you can really do it with anything.

Michelle said...

A very mild version of your white chicken chili always works wonders! So does chicken broth, with a separate bag of noodles to cook up.

Anonymous said...

I have been hospitalized three times over the past few years and my favorite food was McDonalds cheeseburger, fries and a large coke. Best if the family member was able to keep it warm and deliver it quickly. Beats that nasty hospital food hands down.

Red Headed Mama said...

Sweet Russian Cabbage soup! I make a double batch, leave two servings as-is, and freeze the other two so they have some for later!

I usually make some cornbread, or buy a nice crusty loaf of bread, along with salad fixin's and some kind of dessert. It's a hit every time!

http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Sweet-Russian-Cabbage-Soup/Detail.aspx