Need to get out of the house and let your kids play a bit? I’ll make breakfast and we can chat. Your fridge is on the fritz? No worries. I’ll send over a basket of muffins for breakfast. New bundle of joy? Congrats! I have chili and cornbread for your freezer. Rough week at work? How about I make you a stress free dinner of meatloaf and potatoes?!
It is a gesture as old as the hills and with good reason. A meal is an act of comfort when the unexpected circumstances of life surface. Whether you want to quietly offer support to a busy family or show how much you care to a bereaved friend, filling the basic need of food is always welcome and ALWAYS a good idea.
Be sure to think outside the, er … casserole. Spaghetti and lasagna are appreciated, and to be honest, they are some of my favorite foods. That said, after one or two, it gets a bit old. There are SO many dishes that can be tweaked to travel and/or frozen ahead of time so give it some thought. In addition, too much hearty comfort food can get heavy, so don’t forget the possibly of a light soup, breakfast for dinner, or main dish salad. I am not going to bother to include any dessert recipes in this list, since I have no doubt that you ALL have an old reliable or two of sweet treats that are waiting in the wings. However, here are a few things you may already have thought of, and some you may not have.
–> any and all quick breads
–> any and all muffins
–> cookies and bars
–> brothy soups
–> homemade granola and a container of yogurt
–> meals that can easily be assembled and cooked, such as a dump and heat, slow cooker meal
–> homemade sub sandwiches, wrapped well and ready to cut into serving portions
–> tacos or fajitas, all fixings separate and ready
–> homemade pancake or waffle mix
–> egg or french toast overnight casseroles
I would love hear what YOUR favorite go-to meals are so be sure to comment below! Need a few more guidelines? Here is a previous post full of tips for bringing meals to friends and family!
Sausage & Grits Quiche
Recipe & photo via Southern Living
A great meal to bring for breakfast or dinner, this savory quiche can be made ahead and frozen, ready to feed a family. If serving for dinner, add a bright, green salad to the menu.
1 (10-oz.) package frozen chopped spinach
1 (16-oz.) package ground pork sausage
2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 cup whipping cream
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1 cup uncooked regular grits
1 cup grated Asiago cheese
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 cup (4 oz.) freshly shredded white Cheddar cheese, divided
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 tablespoons plain white cornmeal
Preheat oven to 350°F. Bring broth, cream, and salt to a boil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Gradually whisk in grits, and return to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, whisking occasionally, 12 to 15 minutes or until thickened. Remove from heat; stir in Asiago, pepper, and 3/4 cup Cheddar until melted. (Mixture will be very thick.) Gradually stir about one-fourth of hot grits into eggs; stir egg mixture into remaining hot grits. Stir in spinach and sausage until blended. Sprinkle bottom and sides of a lightly greased 10-inch deep-dish pie plate with cornmeal. Spoon grits mixture into pie plate; sprinkle with remaining Cheddar cheese.
Freezer Coffee Cake
Recipe & photo via Brittany’s Pantry
Coffee cake you bake right from the freezer. Genius! The ultimate make-ahead breakfast to tuck in the freezer for whenever you need it. Feel free to leave out the fruit completely, creating a plain cinnamon coffee cake.
1/2 c butter, softened
1 c sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 c sour cream
2 c flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 c fresh blueberries or 2 c apple, peeled and diced or grated
In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Add the eggs and the vanilla and mix till smooth, scraping down the bowl when necessary. Add the sour cream. Mix in the dry ingredients just until incorporated. Carefully fold in the fruit. Spray two 8X8 pans (I use the foil disposable ones) and divide the batter equally between the two.
2 T soft butter
3/4 c brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
3/4 c chopped nuts (optional)
Divide topping in half and sprinkle each cake evenly. Wrap well with plastic wrap and then tightly with foil. Freeze flat in your freezer for up to a month. Bake right from the freezer (remove plastic and foil first) at 350°F for 40-45 minutes or until toothpick comes out with only a few crumbs attached.
Oatmeal Raisin Breakfast Cookies
Recipe & photo via Wholefully
These healthy breakfast cookies are perfect to pack up as an extra along with a main meal, or just as they are for a quick snack. When there are multiple children and hurried schedules involved, a quick breakfast that you can grab and go is a HUGE blessing!
½ cup melted coconut oil (or other mild-flavored oil)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup unsweetened applesauce
¼ cup honey
1½ cup whole wheat flour
1 cup rolled oats
¼ cup ground flaxseed
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ cup raisins
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside. In a small bowl, whisk together the coconut oil, eggs, vanilla extract, applesauce and honey until well combined. Set aside. In a medium mixing bowl, stir together the flour, oats, flaxseed, baking soda, cinnamon and raisins until well combined. Add in the wet ingredients and stir until completely mixed. The batter will be wet. Allow the batter to rest for 5 minutes (this helps thicken it a bit). Spoon rounded tablespoons, two inches apart onto the prepared baking sheet. Bake in preheated oven for 12-15 minutes, or until the cookies are golden brown around the edges. Let cool 5 minutes on the baking sheet, then remove to cooling rack to cool completely.
Dixie Salad W/Grapes, Almonds, & Broccoli
Recipe & photo via Southern Living
This main dish salad is beautiful, full of flavor, and a great healthy option. Layer it in a big container, seal it well, and be sure to send the dressing in a separate container so the beneficiaries can dress it themselves!
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
6 (4-oz.) chicken cutlets, 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick
1 1/2 cups seasoned breadcrumbs
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup olive oil
1 (5-oz.) package spring lettuce mix
3 cups broccoli florets
1/2 cup halved seedless red grapes
1/2 cup halved seedless green grapes
1/2 cup sliced honey-roasted almonds
Preheat oven to 425°F. Whisk together eggs and 3 Tbsp. water in a small bowl. Dip chicken in egg mixture, and dredge in breadcrumbs, pressing firmly to adhere. Place on an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet. Bake 15 minutes or until chicken is brown and done. Meanwhile, whisk together vinegar, honey, Dijon mustard, salt, pepper, and olive oil. Toss together lettuce, broccoli, red grapes, and green grapes; season with salt and pepper. Top with chicken and sliced almonds; serve with vinaigrette.
Indian Summer Chili
Recipe & photo via Brittany’s Pantry
This chili is quite healthy and cooks up quite fast. I love to send it along with a pan of homemade cornbread. It is a great recipe to make a few days ahead. Then, when delivered cold, it can be reheated a bowl at a time. It freezes fantastic as well!
1 lb ground turkey ( I use 97 % lean)
2 T chili powder
2 T grill seasoning, any flavor, such as Montreal
1 T cumin
2 T Worcestershire sauce
hot sauce to taste
1 onion, diced
2 bell peppers, diced (I use 1 red and 1 green for the color)
1 bottle of beer
1 (14 oz) can tomato sauce
1/2 c bottled BBQ sauce-the smokier the better!
2 c frozen corn
1 can of black beans, rinsed and drained
Brown the turkey in just a bit of olive oil. Add the next 7 ingredients and cook over med heat until the veggies just start to soften. Add the beer and cook for another few minutes. Add the tomato sauce and the BBQ sauce and let the whole batch come to a bubble. Let simmer for 5 minutes or so for the flavors to meld. Add the corn and beans and bring back up to a simmer. Taste for salt and spiciness. If making ahead, let cool and freeze in a well sealed container.
Lemon Chicken Soup W/Orzo & Kale
Recipe & photo via Pinch Me, I’m Eating
Nourishing and hot, this hearty meal can be made with or without the chicken. Deliver hot or cold; it reheats great!
10 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice from 2 lemons
1 cup uncooked orzo noodles
2 eggs beaten
2 cups shredded cooked chicken
1/2 tsp black pepper
8 cups fresh kale torn into medium pieces with tough stems removed
In a large pot, heat up chicken broth to a simmer. Add lemon juice and orzo noodles. Simmer for 10 minutes or until pasta is mostly cooked. Reduce heat to medium low. Beat two eggs until smooth in a medium bowl that has some extra room for adding liquid. Remove about 1/2 to 3/4 cup of hot broth from the soup and slowly pour it into the eggs, whisking constantly. Pour egg mixture back into the soup, stirring constantly. If any pieces of egg form “egg drops” like in egg drop soup, remove these. Cook for about two minutes on medium low to medium until broth is nice and thick. Add in shredded chicken, pepper, and kale, one handful a time. Stir until kale is wilted. Serve immediately. The orzo in any leftover soup will absorb all the broth. To re-soupify it, just add about a half a cup of water to a bowl of soup and stir before reheating.
Southwestern Quinoa Stuffed Peppers
Recipe & photo via Wholefully
Healthy and so full of flavor it will please vegetarians and meat eaters alike! This will stay hot for quite awhile, so wrap it well if you want to deliver it hot. Or reheat gently if needed!
4 large bell peppers, sliced in half and seeds removed
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons ground cumin
1 small sweet potato, peeled and diced
1–10 ounce can diced tomatoes with chiles (like Ro-tel brand)
1–15 ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
1–8 ounce can tomato paste
3 cups vegetable broth
1 cup frozen corn
1 cup quinoa
cup shredded Monterey jack cheese
Avocado, cilantro, sour cream, and lime for toppings, if desired
Preheat oven to 400°F. Place the bell peppers, cut side up, in a large baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil and season liberally with salt and pepper. Roast in oven for 15-20 minutes, or until the peppers are tender. While the peppers are roasting, begin on the filling by heating two tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat in a large, high-sided skillet. Add in the onion and garlic and cook until just fragrant and tender, about 3 minutes. Add in the red pepper flakes, cumin, sweet potato, diced tomatoes with chiles, black beans, tomato paste, vegetable broth, corn, and quinoa. Bring to a boil, reduce to low, cover, and simmer until the sweet potatoes are tender, and the quinoa has absorbed most of the liquid—about 15 minutes. Remove from heat, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Stuff each of the pepper halves with the filling, mounding on top (don’t worry, you’ll have enough filling!). Sprinkle peppers with cheese. Bake in preheated oven just until the cheese is melted, brown, and bubbly, about 7-10 minutes. Serve peppers topped with avocado, cilantro, sour cream, and lime wedges.
Mediterranean Macaroni & Cheese
Recipe & photo via The Live-In Kitchen
Make this ahead and let the family you are giving it to reheat it in the oven. And the flavor? Such a nice change from the regular baked pasta dishes!
3 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon plus 3 teaspoons olive oil, divided
1 leek, white and light green part only, thinly sliced
1 small yellow onion, chopped
1 head garlic
16 ounces dry rigatoni
1 cup fresh baby spinach, chopped
⅔ cup milk
⅓ cup heavy cream
½ cup sun dried tomatoes, chopped
1 teaspoon flour
1 tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
1¼ cup Asiago cheese, shredded
12 ounces feta cheese (preferably a brick packed in brine, not pre-crumbled)
1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Coat a 9 x 13 casserole dish with olive oil or cooking spray. Set aside. In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of butter and a teaspoon of olive oil over medium low heat until the butter melts. Add the onions and leeks and stir to coat in the butter mixture. Turn the heat to low and allow to cook for one hour, stirring every ten minutes, until golden brown in color. The vegetables should just barely sizzle as they cook. If they are browning too quickly lower the heat as much as possible and if they don’t seem like they’re cooking at all raise the heat by small increments until they begin to do so. Once they are done remove from the heat and set aside. Meanwhile, cut the top quarter off the head of garlic. Drizzle the other teaspoon of olive oil over the top and wrap it tightly in aluminum foil. Place in the oven and allow it to roast for 30 minutes. Remove and allow it to cool before squeezing the garlic out of the papery peel. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the rigatoni according to the package’s directions. Once done cooking, drain, drizzle with olive oil, and shake the colander to keep the noodles from sticking together. In a small skillet, heat one tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add the spinach and sauté until wilted. Remove from the heat and set aside.
Preheat the oven to broil on high. Heat the remaining tablespoon of butter in a medium saucepan over medium low heat until melted. Whisk in flour until fully incorporated. Whisk in the milk and cream and continue to heat until hot but not boiling. Add the oregano and rosemary and mix well. Add 1 cup asiago and crumble in the feta cheese. Stir until the feta is just beginning to melt. Remove the pan from the heat and combine the cheese mixture with the rigatoni, spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, onions, leeks, and roasted garlic in the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with black pepper and remaining Asiago cheese. Place in the oven and broil until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Remove and serve.
Roasted Sausages & Sweet Potato-White Bean Stew
Recipe & photo via Country Living
Can you imagine how fantastic this will make the house smell? Ridiculously easy, hearty, and absolutely scrumptious! Make a double batch so you can keep a pan for yourself. Be sure to serve this with a BIG loaf of crusty bread!
2 medium sweet potatoes
1 small Sweet onion
4 sprig fresh thyme
2 clove garlic
¾ tsp. Kosher salt
¾ tsp. Freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp. olive oil
8 fresh pork sausage links
1 can low-sodium chicken broth
1 bunch Swiss chard (or other hearty greens)
1 can cannellini beans
1 tbsp. red wine vinegar
Heat oven to 450°F. Toss together first 7 ingredients in a large roasting pan. Arrange in a single layer, and place sausage on top of vegetables. Bake at 450°F for 20 minutes. Remove pan and stir in broth and next 3 ingredients. Bake 10 more minutes or until sausage is browned and potatoes are tender.
Beef & Bean Taco Casserole
Recipe & photo via Betty Crocker
Light and flavorful! Definitely a family pleaser!
1 lb lean (at least 80%) ground beef
1 can (16 oz) refried beans
1 jar (16 oz) chunky salsa
1 package (1 oz) taco seasoning mix
2 1/2 cups coarsely broken tortilla chips
1 medium green bell pepper, chopped (3/4 cup)
2 medium green onions, sliced (1/4 cup)
2 medium tomatoes, chopped (1 1/2 cups)
1/2 cup shredded Cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese (4 oz)
1 cup sliced ripe olives
1 cup shredded lettuce
Heat oven to 350°F. In 12-inch skillet, cook beef over medium-high heat 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until thoroughly cooked; drain. Stir in refried beans, salsa and taco seasoning mix. Reduce heat to medium. Heat to boiling, stirring occasionally. In ungreased 2-quart casserole, place 2 cups of the broken tortilla chips. Top evenly with beef mixture. Sprinkle with bell pepper, onions, 1 cup of the tomato, the cheese and olives. Bake uncovered 20 to 30 minutes or until hot and bubbly and cheese is melted. Top baked casserole with lettuce, remaining 1/2 cup tomato and remaining 1/2 cup tortilla chips.