Giving the Gift of Food: Taking Meals To Friends and Family


This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.

Some of the best food I’ve ever eaten has been delivered by friends and strangers in a time of sickness or exhaustion. A meal brought to your door on a night when you have no energy to cook says that someone is thinking of you.

Meals to Take to Friends

Are you overwhelmed at the thought of delivering a meal to another family? I used to be the same way. As a newlywed, a friend called and asked me if I would take a meal to another family.

I agreed to do that and then panicked. I called my mom and arranged for her to prepare the meal I was supposed to deliver!

Save The Recipe

Want to save this recipe?

Enter your email and I’ll send this recipe right to your inbox! Plus, I’ll send you new recipes every week!

What I wish I’d known then is that the meal doesn’t need to be complicated. A simple pot of soup or a dish of pasta can be appreciated beyond words.

Meals To Take To Friends

Wondering what kind of meal to take? Today I’m sharing some of our favorite meals to deliver, from soups and stews to crock-pot meals, pasta, and casseroles. (I’m including tips for transporting each one as well!)

Hopefully, this post will inspire others to step outside their comfort zone and take a meal to someone near them in a time of need.

Most meals can be delivered early in the day, if that is a better fit for your schedule (and theirs!). Don’t forget to include a short note with instructions for reheating.

Slow Cooked Chicken Fajitas

Crock-Pot Chicken Fajitas

The fajita filling can be delivered in a disposable pan covered in foil, or in a large disposable plastic dish. Take along a stack of tortillas or a side of plain cooked rice or Spanish Rice for serving.

Italian Red Wine Roast Beef is a slow cooker AND an oven roasted favorite!

Italian Red Wine Roast Beef

This recipe can be made in the crock-pot or in the oven. When it’s finished cooking, transfer the meat to a disposable metal pan and cover it tightly with foil.

Take along some mashed potatoes, or boiled red potatoes, also in a metal pan covered with foil. A salad or some roasted broccoli or green beans is a great way to finish off the meal.

Kids and adults alike love this chicken tetrazzini

Chicken Tetrazzini

My friend Lisa brought us a pan of this Chicken Tetrazzini after our second child was born. In the midst of our new baby fog and sleep deprivation, we managed to eat an absurd amount of this dish. I can tell you for a fact the leftovers were fantastic for the next few days as well.

Bake the pasta in a disposable pan and cover it tightly with foil when it comes out of the oven. Take along a Strawberry Spinach Salad or some bread for a meal that friends are certain to love.

Southwest Chicken Salad - get the recipe at

Southwest Chicken Salad with Spicy Ranch Dressing

For warmer days when you don’t want to take someone a hot meal, this salad is a terrific option. Layer the salad into a large disposable pan and tuck a jar of salad dressing alongside it.

With a bag of tortilla chips or Fritos on the side, you’ll have dinner ready to go in no time.

No one can resist these 30 Minute Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas! get the recipe at

Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas or Mexican Lasagna

These are some of the most popular casseroles that I deliver. Both can be made ahead of time and then just popped in the oven to bake when ready to eat. Prepare the casserole in a large disposable pan and cover with foil.

We enjoy eating enchiladas with tortilla chips on the side, so a bag of chips pairs nicely with this meal delivery. I especially like meals like this, because you can double the recipe and feed your own family at the same time.

Barbecue Chicken Stuffed Potatoes

BBQ Chicken Stuffed Baked Potatoes

This is one of the easiest meals to make and to deliver. Place the warm chicken and sauce in a disposable metal pan tightly covered with foil or a plastic container with lid.

Place the baked potatoes in a disposable metal pan and cover with foil. Pack the toppings into sturdy Ziplocs or small plastic containers for an easy meal delivery.

Coleslaw is required for the ultimate pulled pork sandwich

Sweet and Tangy Crock-Pot Pulled Pork

This pulled pork gets rave reviews each time we serve it. Transfer the pork to a disposable tray and cover it with foil. Take along a bag of rolls and a jar of barbecue sauce for pulled pork sandwiches.

Southern Style Coleslaw is the perfect side dish for pulled pork and it can be made in about two minutes. Slow Cooker Baked Beans pair nicely with this meal as well and can be turned into BBQ Sundaes for one of my favorite meals.

Baked Potato Soup with all the toppings is fall dinner heaven!

Baked Potato Soup

This recipe can be made on the stove or in the Crock-Pot. When I take soup to people, I try to take it cooled and in a large gallon size freezer-strength Ziploc bag or plastic freezer-safe containers that won’t need to be returned.

The toppings can be placed in separate Ziploc bags or plastic containers.

Hearty Steak Chili with five beans and sausage - get the recipe at

Spicy Five Bean Chili

Same as when I’m delivering soup to people, I take chili cooled and in a large gallon size Ziploc bag. If I’m taking warm soup, I place it in plastic freezer-safe containers that won’t need to be returned. the toppings can be placed in separate Ziploc bags.

A bag of Fritos or pan of cornbread is a terrific addition to a pot of chili.

Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad

Pasta Salad is a terrific meal option on hot summer days. Pasta Salads can be delivered in plastic containers, metal trays, or gallon size Ziplocs, pretty much anything will work.

Walnut Chocolate Chip Blondies

Easy Dessert Recipes

While dessert isn’t a requirement when delivering a meal, I almost always include something sweet. (I know that I have really appreciated that sweet treat when I’ve been on the receiving end of food gifts.)

Super easy recipes like a pan of Fudge Brownies, Chocolate Chip Blondies, Monster Cookie Bars, or Rice Krispy Treats can be stirred together with less than 10 minutes effort most of the time.

I like to use these smaller disposable 8-inch square pans for baking and delivering desserts. If I’m making a larger batch, I either divide it into two pans or bake in a larger pan, cool, and then slice before placing a portion of the bars in the disposable pan for transporting.

I wrote this post seven years ago (December 2013) when my friends Ashley and Ryan from Center Cut Cook received the news that Ryan had cancer. Many miles separated us and I wasn’t able to deliver a meal to their door; so I participated in a virtual potluck for them.

Ryan endured over 70 rounds of chemotherapy to courageously, and selflessly battle metastatic colon cancer over the next four years. Their story is one of faith, hope, strength, courage, and love.

My life is better today because of the impact Ryan made on it. His story touched countless thousands of lives while reminding all of us not to take a moment for granted.

“When you die, it does not mean you lose to cancer. You beat cancer by how you live, why you live and the manner in which you live.” – Stuart Scott

Filed under: , ,

Tagged with:

Share this Article


Related Posts

Mary Younkin

Mary Younkin

Hi, I’m Mary. I’m the author, cook, photographer, and travel lover behind the scenes here at Barefeet In The Kitchen. I'm also the author of three cookbooks dedicated to making cooking from scratch as simple as possible.

Reader Interactions

10 Comments Leave a comment or review

    Rate & Comment

  1. Anna says

    I love meal ideas for things like this – being part of a church community is truly wonderful for the meals people bring in times of sickness, new babies, moving, etc., and it's always good to have more ideas since I tend to panic a bit each time too 🙂

  2. Yoshiko Flora says

    I find it cool that you suggested that a person can make crock-pot chicken fajitas to a neighbor or a person in need based on your experience of receiving a dish on a night when a person doesn’t have the energy to cook. Learning about this reminded me of my next door neighbor, who is sick with the flu since yesterday. I was thinking of cooking a baked chicken thigh for him, any suggestion on which recipe should I follow for it? Thanks!

  3. Cherylynn says

    I’m so glad you reposted this. It reminds us all that there is something we can do when we feel helpless when others are suffering, or celebrating a new baby with little time to cook, and other times when a simple meal shared from someone who cares about them means so much.
    Thank you.