I’m part of a group that has volunteered to provide meals for a family of four. One parent is suffering through some intense chemotherapy and the other is working full time. The children are 2.5 and 5.
I’d bring the food to the workplace in the morning and my friend would take it home to feed her family.
Looking for dishes that are tasty upon reheating while being easy to cook. Honestly, I think even cooking pasta is probably a chore at this point.
Ideas are fine, recipes are also welcome, help is appreciated.
The first thing I’d do is ask what everyone likes and dislikes. Hates and loves. And publicize that strongly to the group. And congrats on doing this.
I’m sure they are so grateful for your compassion and care! I don’t really know what children of that age would eat so I won’t include exotic or super spicy dishes. These are all dishes that would reheat well and are often better the second day.
Minestrone soup and a crusty loaf of bread
Bolognese - (they will need to boil pasta) and a bag of prewashed and cut salad. Send a little bottle of vinaigrette. http://newfinmysoup.blogspot.com/2012/09/puppies-and-pasta.html?m=1
Irish beef stew http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/irish_beef_stew/
Enchiladas - you can go vegetarian or meat with this. Assemble all in a casserole dish and give instructions for how long to bake. Include some stewed pinto beans and an avocado.
Some pre-cut vegetables and a dill dip would be a nice snack.
Roasted vegetable lasagna - http://italiandish.squarespace.com/imported-20090913150324/2008/11/8/roasted-vegetable-lasagna.html
Quiche and a prepared salad with dressing separately.
Something like lasagna or baked ziti is easy to reheat. You could send along a loaf of Italian bread and salad to make a complete meal.*
Mac and cheese for the kids? Again easy to reheat.*
A roast beef? Slice it and send it home with a container of jus/gravy so it can just be reheated on the stove. Instead of mashed potatoes, a potato au gratin casserole to heat in the oven and a bag of steamable green vegs that can be done in a microwave.
*When making pasta specifically to be reheated, I tend to cook it short of al dente so it doesn’t get mushy with the reheat.
Oh, and dessert for the kids! A small cake, cookies, cut fruit. I’m sure with one parent sick and the other working full time they are feeling scared and maybe a bit lonely. Especially with the holidays. upon us.
So wonderful for you and your group to do this, especially at this busy time of year.
Thanks, all! Great ideas. We’ll be doing this a couple of times a week over the next few months so I’m sure many of these will end up in the rotation.
Most people who aren’t vegetarian like roast chicken.
I took a lot of homemade chicken soup to a friend who was undergoing chemotherapy. Friend is fine now, but no, I can’t claim it was the chicken soup. It is easy to digest and nutritious, and you can add noodles, tofu, rice … or chicken.
Vegetarians might appreciate miso soup which is also very healthful.
Hearty legume soups, especially if they include meat and/or are made with meaty stock, make a filling meal with the addition of good bread, biscuits, or rolls. Cheese toasts made ahead can sit at room temp during work hours, with brief oven reheating. Toast thick slices of bread in the oven on a sheet pan, both sides. Then spread one side with a layer of softened butter mixed with parmesan (herbs can be added if you like), return to oven till melted and golden. Let cool, transfer to foil lasagna pan for transport, covered in foil.
In general, be sure to pack items in bags/baskets with handles, so his/her arms don’t have to be bent to carry them. This will be easier for the chemo patient to carry than something in a box, as less arm strength is required.
Very thoughtful group!
In addition to the good suggestions already given:
If they eat pork, ham and scalloped potatoes
Cottage Pie (sheppards pie with beef not lamb)
Max and Ermas chicken tortilla soup ( google it)
I know it’s really hard to know what the person receiving chemo will eat- tastes change so much and they often get sores in the mouth.
Just a thought: You might also get some ideas by looking at websites or cookbooks that focus on entertaining and offer “make-ahead” recipes where you assemble everything beforehand, and then just pop it in the oven for cooking or reheating. Or this looks promising:
For such small children, I would also think in terms of small meatballs, fish sticks and other child sized bites. Children often enjoy stews or baked dishes, and even salads, that incorporate fruit (like apricots, pineapple, raisins, apples), and its healthy. Also, unless you live someplace that is relentlessly cold, maybe a few meals that are no-cook-at-all would be welcome, like a buffet platter of sliced meats and cheeses and crunchy veg, dip and crackers that can just be unwrapped and set on the table.
I would also encourage the chemo patient to give you very honest feedback on what foods are really working for them personally, and see if you can make sure they always have that food on hand even if the rest of the family is eating something else. Sometimes when people feel unwell, they really only want to eat the same simple soup every day or a milk-based dish like rice pudding. I’m sure the parents want to make sure the kids keep eating healthily during this period, but the focus should be on making sure the patient is eating, and if the kids end up eating a bit more take out or nachos than they otherwise would be allowed, it’s less important.
Please check out this website: https://www.mealtrain.com/
It sets up a schedule for meals with an e-mail list of people so everyone can check who’s bringing what and when. You can post their likes and dislikes, allergies, etc. and everyone can see what’s on the menu for the week so they don’t end up with three lasagnas on the weekend. We’ve used it when a family member was in the hospital for an extended time. Also don’t forget snacks, sandwich stuff, and breakfast foods.
Just wanted to say, it’s a lovely thing your group is doing. I just couldnt see it happening in the society in which I live, particularly amongst work colleagues.
Trying to reply to the group as opposed to an individual here.
Went with a roast chicken “ballontine” stuffed with spinach & mushrooms, a big leafy salad with a Green Goddess dressing, and a nice baguette.
I’m so appreciative of all the ideas. I’ll continue to share these and any new suggestions with the group.
Thanks! Good call!
There are lots of websites about chemo-cooking, e.g.:
In my former “country”, this long-running thread had many posts from both patients and caregivers:
A friend who’s a breast cancer survivor (2 yrs +, fingers crossed), and an avid cook, got good ideas at the time from this site: http://www.cancernutritionconsortium.org/
So, are you asking what to cook for the person undergoing chemo or the family? This will be two different things, I am afraid. During chemo, what is appealing and possible to eat is severely limited. For example, all the tomato sauce suggestions above are inappropriate for most chemo patients. The acid level in tomato sauce is really difficult to manage during the first week following chemo. For me, my eating regimen was quite rigorous after chemo.
Here is what I did to get through [this is a cut and paste from CH from several years ago]:
== begin CH cut/paste ==
I believe I have responded on all of the quoted threads below, but more than willing to do this again. Throw out the book. What is tolerable after chemo 1 maybe totally different after chemo 3. But the constant for me was, protein. I needed protein, and my body needed protein. And I needed fibre [along with a bunch of other pills.]
I ate about 2 oz of food every 2-3 hrs. Breakfast was oatmeal. Then was the smoothie with yogurt [active cultures] and frozen fruit since it has been blanched so didn’t present issues for the immune system. Lunch varied [selections below]. Afternoon snack was a hard boiled egg [kept an already cooked bunch in the fridge] or more yogurt. Dinner varied.
Items that I made for each round in miniature:
meatballs [lots of meatballs]
lamb kebob with spinach pie
small piece of steak
chicken stock soups
pasta with garlic and olive oil
In general, everything was cooked and ready to reheat. I craved salt and cumin. I was required to drink no less than 64oz of water daily for the first week of each round.
So, the biggest advice. Packaged in small bits. She won’t want to warm a whole lasagna, but a small bit might appeal. Oh, and tomatoes are really hard on the mouth during chemo. Raw vegetables are risk zones. Feel free to email me if you want some additional ideas.
Oh yea! Then buttered popcorn [with salt, of course] at night to keep me regular!
== end CH post ==
I think we’re choosing to support the family as a whole. I think it would be tough to cook specifically for our ill friend.
Again, as I read herein, the suggestions and advice are just great.
What you will gain, that by doing something you love and maybe taking an hour or two out of your week, you can have a real impact on people lives by simply cooking them a meal.
As I once participated in a “feed the family” program, for a neighbor who underwent some radical surgery and follow up chemo, I went out and bought two crock pots. One large and one small. In the evening I would prepare all of the ingredients, load the crock pot and bring it to their house in the morning before I left for work. It was activated, cooked in their house, so at some point in the day they had a nice aroma in the house, and they had a meal when they got home. All they had to do was to bring me back the crock pots, I did this so they had a reason to get out of the house and say hello and give me some feed back which is real important.
I asked them and suggested only comfort foods . In my case the children were a few years older then in yours, and I did have a wider selection.
Meat balls with tomato sauce
Cauliflower and cheese
Wild rice with sausage
Chicken pieces with carrots and onions
Chow Mein, to mention a few.
We found that the two crock pots were easy to bring over, and cooked in their home. For the person convalescing, if they were up to it could have food when ever they wanted during the day for the themselves, kids or visitors to serve. The two pots also allowed for creating something special if requested.
Happily about three months after all was resolved, my neighbor, visited me and brought me two new crock pots as a thank you! Since I have one, I have passed them to a co-worker who used them for someone as I did.