Healthy comfort food for a mourning family

Hello all-- food52 has been my go-to site for a while, but now I'm faced with a situation I haven't faced before. My neighbors just lost their only child in an unfortunate turn of events, and right now their fridge is stocked with pasta with tomato sauce in ziploc bags, chicken noodle soup in giant tupperware, and lots of cheese and fruits brought over by family and friends. In a week or two I'm sure most of this food will be gone (or they will be tired of it), and I wanted to make something healthy and hearty for them, but not too fancy. I just want to bring over something nourishing and comforting, once family and friends have returned to their respective homes. I unfortunately don't know much about their tastes, so I need to play it safe as well. Any suggestions?

  • Posted by: DR
  • May 7, 2014


Maedl May 9, 2014
According to Jewish tradition, the tradition food would be something with lentils. Whether they or you are Jewish, I still think of lentils as being the quintessential comfort food. You could go with a lentil soup, although it is probably too warm for that right now. Perhaps a lentil salad would be the answer.
mainecook61 May 9, 2014
I would add that after everyone has gone home, your neighbors would welcome being invited to your house for a simple meal. This is hard to do. Your neighbors will no doubt discover that when a child has died, people they thought they knew well will slip into the next grocery aisle to avoid encountering them. Any sort of friendly gesture will be greatly appreciated.
boulangere May 9, 2014
What a lovely thought, mainecook. Either your description happens, or the person is smothered with well-meaning people wanting to know HOW they are doing. A safe place to have a quiet meal would be a godsend.
boulangere May 9, 2014
My favorite meal to take to friends who have welcomed a new baby or those who have experienced a loss is a couple of simple roasted chickens for the same reason June mentions - tuck a few cloves of garlic and a lemon into each one. I also take along some simple ingredients to turn them into soup: egg noodles, canned tomatoes, a couple of onions. It is extremely kind of you to look ahead to when everyone has gone home. That's when things get seriously hard.
ChefJune May 9, 2014
I would probably roast a chicken for them. It's easy to eat, to reheat, good cold, good hot -- and almost everyone likes it. Brownies or cookies are good, too, and I also love the fruit salad idea. There's a recipe here on food52 that's gotten my attention in a good way lately, I don't like tahini, so I make a lemon/mustard vinaigrette for it, and toss a mess of arugula in for a touch of bitter. I think I'd make them one of those, too. and how sweet of you to be thinking beyond the first couple of weeks. So often everything drops off after a few weeks, as people get back into their own lives, but your friends' lives are changed forever, and they'll need close friends and neighbors at least as much when the shock wears off.

Voted the Best Reply!

michelle.perisic May 9, 2014
Here's a totally different idea - depending on whether you're up to it. If it were me I think I'd invite them to my place, cook something I know is great and that everybody likes (my go to book for this is Jerusalem by Ottolenghi - I haven't found anyone capable of disliking anything I've made from there in over 1yr of thrashing it. I'd choose his roast chicken with artichoke - easy and tasty, followed by a rhubarb buckle cake from food52, it's amazing). They may well be sick of sitting at home eating the thoughtful food everyone has bought them, and feeling isolated because nobody wants to ask them how they are doing or talk to them about their beautiful lost child. You may have to brace yourself for some teary moments but they might actually really enjoy hearing you talk to them about their lost child. In hard circumstances some fresh company and 'normal' life stuff may be what they want most right now.

My 2year old cousin passed away in very unfortunate circumstances when I was a child. My mother spent countless hours talking to my aunt about her memories of Yasmin. My aunt always commented on how nice it was to actually be able to talk about her lost daughter - everyone was too scared to bring it up with her.
Like I said, a harder option but if you're willing to invest yourself you may create a beautiful new relationship out of a tragic event.
kimhw May 8, 2014
Your poor neighbors. No one should loose a child.
But in the mix of this they are going to have many visitors. I always like to pack a large basket with lots of fresh fruit, cheese and crackers, a case of water, lots the pocket sized tissues, paper plates and napkins(no one wants to do dishes), coffee cups, coffee, Advil, tums, gum, if they have pets add dog biscuits or cat treats....
You get the picture.
These people are being forced to host all their friends and family while mourning. So just lots of host friendly items.
bigpan May 8, 2014
Albeit sad, life will have to get back to normal and normal for most is to be busy in the kitchen. Having said that I would put together a basket of ingredients for a specific meal...all the items required as fresh veg and salad fixin's, along with a printed recipe card - and - a bottle of nice wine.
If you select a pasta dish, then buy a jar of antipasto, dry pasta, jar of imported italian sauce, etc. Put the meat in a sealed container that can be refrigerated until needed. Like wise you can select a pot roast, maybe some pork chops and bbq sauce (summer is just around the busy in the kichen, dad busy with the grill).
Getting "busy" is one of the better steps in the healing process.
Stephanie May 8, 2014
Very thoughtful of you.. I would roast a big tray of sweet potatoes, onion, garlic, squash whatever else.. and maybe throw in some beans. Lemon, herbs, oil, chicken stock.. 400 for 1-1.5 hours .. Healthy and gets better and better a few days in the fridge
creamtea May 7, 2014
I've made lasagne or roast chicken for mourning families, with a salad side. I agree about either fruit salad or cookies for dessert.
arcane54 May 7, 2014
I agree. Light is good and the ability to portion just what you need when you want it is helpful. Grief is heavy enough.
SeaJambon May 7, 2014
Heartbreaking. I'd go with hearty soups, maybe some fruit salad and cookies. Standard comfort food, although they are probably beyond food comfort. Just being there is huge; don't be hurt if they just pick at food without much appetite.
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