Tips and Recipes for Taking a Meal


Stuck when it comes to planning a meal for a friend in need? These ideas will help you deliver just what the doctor ordered. We have recipes tailored to specific conditions and tips that make things convenient for everyone.

Emphasize Nutrition

Although it’s tempting to bring comfort food, these kinds of meals can be high in fats and low in nutritional value. Patients in treatment need a healthy balance of vitamins and nutrients. You can adapt classic comfort food by adding a healthy twist. Instead of mashed potatoes, consider a root vegetable mash. Mac and cheese gets a healthful boost when it morphs into vegetable mac and cheese. And you don’t have to sacrifice taste. These sample recipes are patient-tested and approved.

Tailor to Specific Needs

The website Cook for Your Life offers an abundant selection of recipes for people touched by cancer, along with cooking videos and a blog. What’s more, you can search for recipes based on health conditions and considerations. Is your friend nauseous from treatment? Searching for “recipes for nausea” will take you to recipes like rice and vegetable soup, soy poached chicken and gingerbread loaf.

If your loved one is dealing with mouth sores or throat pain, a search under “easy to swallow” recipes yields results like almond milk smoothie, basic risotto and butternut squash soup.

Focus on Convenience

If you’re making a main dish, don’t forget to round out the meal. Add a side of vegetables, some whole-grain crackers or bread and a carton of milk or juice. Cook the food in advance so it’s ready to eat or pop into a warming oven. To eliminate cleanup, provide paper plates and plastic cutlery. Bring the food in containers that you can leave behind; consider resealable plastic bags, takeout boxes or inexpensive plastic or aluminum containers. The last thing you want to do is create more work for your friend or family member.

Think Beyond Dinner

As an alternative to dinner, consider bringing breakfast or lunch items, snacks or food for a friend’s pantry. Pack a box with a selection of cereal, microwave oatmeal, bagels and juice. Pull together a care package of soup and sandwiches. Make a grab bag with granola bars, yogurt, fruit, cheese and crackers. If there are children at home, fill a bag with kid-friendly food.

Take the Pressure Off

You don’t have to make everything from scratch. Source main dishes, side dishes and soups from local grocery stores or organic markets. Choose freshly made whole foods, such as rotisserie chickens, quiches and roasted vegetables. Or, offer to provide a meal from someone’s favorite restaurant, giving them the chance to order exactly what they want.

People may be as hungry for your company as they are for the meal.

Make sure to choose a drop-off time that’s convenient for the recipient. You might eat dinner at 7:00, but they may want food delivered by 5:00. Check to see if they want you to leave your delivery outside or come in and set things up. Depending on the day, some people are too tired to visit; others may be as hungry for your company as they are for the meal. Meet them where they are.

About Cook for Your Life

Cook for Your Life was founded by a woman who, following her second cancer diagnosis, dedicated herself to helping people cook their way to survivorship. The website contains over 1,000 recipes that teach cancer patients how to create healthy and delicious meals at home—at their own time and pace. Recipes and videos are easily searchable and organized by topic specific to the stage of treatment, dietary needs, or simply how patients feel at any given moment.