Lasagna or baked penne.
Sam is a trusted home cook.
Sometimes, comfort food, familiar food is best in those situations. While not 'home made'. A bucket of KFC wings...or "Honey Baked Ham" spiral cut.
You could home make some cole slaw, potato salad, corn bread...or a corn salad, or a sweet corn casserole, yeast rolls..etc.
Homemade peach cobbler, cookies or brownies would be good.
The wife is probably too flustered and stricken to eat well. Make up some frozen meals for her for her latter...and show up to help clean, and put things away. And help return glassware, dishes, etc from others. Label those with masking tape and a magic marker so you can get them back to their owners.
/you can tell I'm from the South can't you?
Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.
I still remember the evening deliveries of meals that a friend so kindly organized for us for the first week, and the frozen meals we pulled from the freezer when we couldn't think about creating dinner let alone anything else. The weekend of his memorial, we had enough frozen lasagna to feed everyone who was there the first night. And then there was the friend who showed up one day and folded my laundry. All I could do was sob in thanks. She'll never forget what you all will do for her.
Pimento cheese sandwiches or as a spread for crackers. Check out this book! It is hilarious and has some fun recipes. "Being Dead Is No Excuse: The Official Southern Ladies Guide To Hosting the Perfect Funeral" Sorry for your loss
A care box containing a large jar of homemade marinara, a box or two of best quality pasta, a wedge of Parmigiano Reggiano, and maybe a bottle of wine. It can feed a large or small number of people depending on the person's need. I love this quote from Nigella Lawson from the section of her Feast book in which she describes the need for nourishment when providing food for the bereaved: "There is another way food is important when someone has died: it marks a connection between the living. There is nothing you can say to someone who is bereaved that can make anything better and even the notion that you could make it better can make it feel offensive, even if the wish is declared out of kindness. But you can help, you can make food. And if you can't cook, or haven't got time, you can shop. The thing to remember in either case is never to burden the bereaved with a question: don't ask what they'd like you to get or what they may want to eat. Decisions are impossible: you have to do it, and without drawing attention to the act." (Nigella Lawson, Feast)
As a break from the Italian theme, roast chicken is comforting and pretty much universally liked. For a crowd, roast the parts separately.
My parents always do a large fruit platter (my dad's specialty) along with a cheese/cracker tray. Also, yeast biscuits with country ham--they can be served at room temperature, and they're good for breakfast. lunch or dinner, or to freeze and eat later.
June is a trusted source on General Cooking.
Cakes, coffee cakes, cookies and pies are also welcome. Friends will be stopping by to pay their respects, and having fresh baked goods to offer is lovely. If you live close by and are a good friend, you might help coordinate that by freezing the "overflow" so it's fresh for "later."
If you don't cook or bake, another lovely offering is a pound or two of top quality coffee. It's almost certain their coffee maker will be getting a workout, and making sure there is coffee for the pot is a great offering.
For convenience for your neighbor , I suggest a casserole or stew that they can either eat right away or place in the freezer for later as they wish.
I'd stay away from dishes like baked ziti. The last time I cooked for a family who had a loss, they ended up with tons of lasagnas and zitis. Luckily I'd made a meatloaf with roasted potatoes! I think something comforting that's a little less of the usual. What do you consider your specialty? Or maybe you can make a favorite dish of the deceased. Those would be special to me!
I know it's pasta, but a really good mac and cheese is a wonderful comfort food.
My mom always made a casserole dish of enchiladas, then delivered them w/o being baked, so they were free to freeze them, or bake when needed, etc. I always thought this seemed like a great idea.
Immediately a nice antipasti platter; meats, cheeses, olives, artichokes, breads, etc. For later; en papilliote meals. My favorite is a super easy and easily altered for all tastes. Chop shallots, garlic, white wine and herbs. Spread out large portions if foil. Place a huge handful of spinach in the middle. Top with a boneless chicken breast or salmon filet. Spoon on the shallot wine mixture. Additional toppings can be sun dried tomatoes, capers, olives, feta, goat cheese, roasted red peppers. Easily frozen. Cook on high (450) for 25 minutes chicken, 20 minutes salmon from refrigerator. Cook 400 for 35 minutes for chicken and 30 minutes for salmon frozen. Many widows and widowers say that the hardest part is to cook for one. This makes it easy and a full meal in one little pouch is just perfect!
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