Friend's husband died unexpectedly. Recipes / pro

scent of cedar

New Member
I just learned that a friend's husband died unexpectedly this morning. We (the ladies who know the woman) will be bringing food ~ lots of it ~ to the family for the next week or two.

If you can post recipes that are tasty, nutritious, and travel well, I will use them during this time. I am so out of cooking with just husband and I here that I cannot think of a thing.

Any good hotdishes?

The family is a large one, and all the kids will be coming home.

All I can think of right now is lasagna.

Meatloaf would be a good thing too, I suppose.

And stew.

French bread from Sam's Club. Oriental coleslaw.

(Just thinking out loud, here.)

Thanks in advance, everyone.

Also, is there anything anyone who has been through this kind of loss found particularly comforting during the initial phases of grief?



Well-Known Member
A baked ham, a big disposable aluminum dish of macaroni and cheese, jars of applesauce (or lots of little individual serving)
and a big greenbean casserole. Don't forget little rolls, mayo
and mustard so sandwiches can be made later. Think comfort foods
and big quantities. DDD

PS: Make sure the other friends are not sending the same items.
Oh, this kind of thing is never easy, and the grieving process is a long hard one. She will need all the support she can get.

If I may suggest, make and freeze some french toast or pancakes? This way mornings are taken care of.

Wintertime almost seems easier to make hearty dishes that travel well, like stews and casseroles (which get old quick). Maybe cook up some taco meat so that it only need be heated? Send along some shells or tortillas?

I'm sure some of our other gourmets will have more ideas.


Well-Known Member
You know what was the best dish anyone ever brought me? Homemade pimento cheese and a loaf of fresh bread. It was wonderful.

I second the hams, fried chicken, potato salad, mac salad, deviled eggs, things like that.


New Member
I know I would consider something that could be served hot or double as a finger food. Some people in grief find comfort in warming things up, or even doing dishes, but some in grief cannot handle even that. For some having finger foods they can mindlessly grab and eat works best- and also foods they can eat while visiting each other.
And since stress robs us of more nutrition, and places greater demands on the body,. consider preparing fresh fruits and vegs, as well, so that those can be just grabbed and popped in the mouth, like a fresh fruit tray or a veg tray with dip, they can set it out and nibble at it and share it with other family members as they walk around.
In my family it is very common to see a large fresh fruit tray, a large veg tray and a tray of homemade chocolate chip cookies- especially at a wake or visitation. People can grab these type foods and hold them and carry them and nibble while comforting each other or being comforted. For some in grief they may not have an attanetion span to sit and eat something requireing a plate or bowl or utensils. ANd they may be too restless to actually sit down.
The other ideas posted here are GREAT, awesome can easily add a fruit or veggie tray to any of those things. DO not forget turkey, too- a raosted turkey is great hot or sliced and cold.
DOn't forget beverages......fresh homemade lemonade or orange juice or a punch, (more nutritional value than coffee or tea, unless you puree fresh fruit to add to iced tea) and considering the weather, much more refreshing and appropraite.

Bless yoyu and your friends for being there for your friend in a time of loss.


New Member
A side note, today is my late mothers birthday, her 2nd since we lost her. For our dinner tonite, our main course is fresh tomatos from my garden- the first from my garden, and my first honor of my mother. My mother loved to tell us how she and her youngest brother would use their allowance to buy fresh tomatos and eat them out of hand like an apple. So- I thought it a perfect way to honor my mothers memory today. (we are going to add fresh sweetcorn and some lovely potatos we found, and have a veg dinner)
Yeesh goodness knows it is way too hot and humid for much else!!!!- so maybe I have fruits and vegs on the brain today?


New Member
I know you requested hot ideas, but what about a fruit salad? Big chunks of summer fruit mixed together. That's a good healthy snack. I know when my father in law passed away, and I got some fruit at the store, she really went after it. It was as if anything else was too heavy. A bunch of grapes, a few of the in season fruits - peaches, plums, nectarines, berries and bananas. Since different people like different things, this always goes over fairly well- especially if there are young ones around.

A vegetable tray, a cheese tray or a variety of good lunch meats- roast beef, turkey, ham, sliced chicken, and the little jars of fixings, as well as a variety of pickles and olives.

Finger foods or small bites tend to go easily, where things that might need to be warmed will be more trouble. Likewise, a tray of single bite sweets might be welcomed- they are good to replace depleted energy at times.

Fruit juices and soft drinks are also welcome. In warm weather, they will go fast.


New Member
LOL - fedup- you musthave been posting the same time as I was, with the very same thoughts and rationales I had, LOL.


New Member
DO remember that in the first few days many people may be there and be supportive, but next week, or a month from now- there likely will be less people there being as supportive, and for many who are grieving it is maybe a month later where it REALLY begins to be lonesome, once shock wears off some etc. Maybe someone could bring something to share at that later time, as well.......even if it is not every day, just tomake sure this friend does get something nutritious in her- and to have some reason for her to have contact with the outside world.


New Member
I'm so sorry to hear of your friends loss.

One thing I've heard needed is toilet paper. I know wierd, but I have a friend whos daughter was killed walking home from school and when everyone came into town suddenly, they ran out of paper products first. She now always buys toilet paper and paper towels, along with plates, bowls, cups, napkins and plastic serving stuff. She says its a must have when you have a house full of unexpected guests. Oh, and ice. They run out fast with all the guests.

Onto food. I have a few recipes I have made in the past that travel well, freeze well and reheat great.

Breakfast Casserole (I usually buy a large aluminum pan with a lid to make this in so dishes don't have to be washed/returned)
2 lbs. breakfast sausage (browned & drained)
4 slices of bread (torn into small pieces)
1 c. grated mild cheddar
1 c. grated sharp cheddar
12 eggs (beaten)
4 c. milk
2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. dry mustard
Grease (spray with Pam) the aluminum pan, spread bread pieces on bottom, sprinkle sausage, mix remaining ingrediants in bowl and pour on top. Cover and refrigerate overnight (if you don't have time, you can skip this process, but it does taste best if done) Next morning cook uncovered at 350 degrees for 1 hour or until no longer jiggly and top is browned.

Often times sodas are the #1 drink during a time like this and that can be hard on some peoples bodies. I like to buy a gallon of water, pour half the gallon into a pot, add 2 Lipton Family size ice tea bags, pour cut up mint leaves (from the spice isle) over the top and bring to a boil. As soon as it stops boiling, remove it from the heat and allow it to cool. Strain the mint out and add 1 1/2 cups of sugar to the tea, then pour it back into the remaining water. This is great warm or cold, the added mint is great for upset tummies too which happens often between all the food provided/eaten and all the emotions.

Taco Soup (this freezes great & you can bring it in large ziplock bags to avoid any cleaning of dishes for them)
2 lbs. ground hamburger meat (browned & drained)
1 medium onion (minced and cooked with meat)
1/4 tsp. minced garlic (cooked with meat)
1 pkg. dry fiesta ranch dressing mix
1 pkg. dry taco seasoning
1 can diced rotel
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can tomatoe sauce
1 can whole kernel sweet corn
1 can ranch style beans
1 can pinto beans
Cook the meat, onion & garlic together, drain. Stir in dry seasonings over meat. Add all cans, DO NOT drain those, the juice adds flavor. Cook on medium heat. This is great served days later. We serve it with cheese, fritos and sour cream.

When a friend of mines husband passed away I made a tray of meats and cheeses and purchased bread, mayonnaise and mustard too along with a package of assorted individual sized chips. This was easy for them to throw together and for picky eaters it was a great way for them to make their own lunch.

scent of cedar

New Member
Thanks, to all who have replied. :smile:

We will be seeing her through after the kids go home and the commotion dies down, as well.

You have sent me some wonderful ideas ~ I will pick up a ham and/or turkey tomorrow. Condiments are such a good idea too, and something I would not have considered.

And toilet paper and napkins!

The soups sound delicious, and packing the food in freezable, non-returnable plastic containers is a great idea.

Fresh fruit and soda and probably a can of coffee, too ~ and cream.

Janet, the fresh bread and cheese idea was great. I can get those French loaves at Sam's ~ and some crackers too.

This lady is in my Book Club. There will be twelve of us pitching in, so the expense and the time commitment will not be so great for any one of us.

Thanks again, everyone ~ I knew you would know what to do!



Well-Known Member
I'm so sorry. Don't expect her to eat much, but I know the family will be a different story. After a few days, it might be nice to take her for a drive just to get her out of the house and all the gloom.

Try making some chicken noodle soup. Although lots of people don't eat "soups" much in the summer, it's still nutritious and even a small amount is good for you.

hearts and roses

Mind Reader
Sending many hugs and support to your friend, her family and yours.

You've gotten some nice ideas. I really think the practical and easily frozen and thawed dishes are best so she can use them later. Quick breads & loaf cakes are good to have on hand and can be frozen as well. Quiches work well also.

I think those items we all need week to week are nice also such as household necessities and kitchen staples.



Roll With It
Mashed potatos. Universal comfort food.

Chicken pasta salad:

cook 1 pound pasta (penne, rotini,bowties, NOT spaghetti)

During the last 5 minutes of cooking add 1 (16 oz bag of frozen veggies (your choice) to the pasta and water.

Drain pasta and veggies.Put in a large bowl. Add 2 cups chopped cooked chicken. Stir to mix.

Pour in ranch dressing (or italian if you like) and stir. All the pasta, chicken and veggies should be coated with dressing.

Sprinkle cheese of your choice on top and serve. We like cheddar cheese.

Tip 1: If pasta is cool or cold it will absorb less dressing. I serve it either way and get raves.

Tip 2: WalMart and Sams have big jugs of dressing. If you make this often buying the big jug is a money saver.

Tip 3: Serve in an ice bucket. They are insulated so hot foods stay hot and cold foods stay cold. I get them at garage sales or thrift stores for less than $3.

So sorry for your friend's loss. Hugs to both of you!


scent of cedar

New Member
Just for FYI purposes? As the family was not aligned with any particular religion, there was no pattern for them to follow, no one to tell them what to do next as they walk through the initial phases of grief. What they have done is truly amazing, and I wanted to share that with all of you. Right now, the immediate family has come together. People from the community (like me, with my ham) are stopping by with food and then, leaving again. The family has planned a catered celebration (to be held in a tent in the yard) of the husband's life for this weekend.

I am amazed. This family has created for itself an intimate time for immediate family to grieve and to laugh and remember (creating the displays and reviewing the stories of this man's life for the celebration to come).

The celebration itself will be a marker for entering the next phase of grief.

After the celebration, after the friends have gone home, the family will be alone again to put the memorabilia away ~ and then, they will go, too.

At that point, the women will come together to see the widow through these next few months.

It's been an amazing thing to see and be part of.


hearts and roses

Mind Reader
It sounds awesome. I would much rather celebrate life in this way and be surrounded by loving family and friends than sit in a funeral parlor, dressed in black and weeping. But, everyone does it in their own way, right?

I love the way this family is dealing with his death and healing amongst one another.


When we lost dad suddenly this spring, we were inundated with sweet desserts and lunch meat. We had some one bring a large (actually, 2) beef roast with carrots, potatoes, and onions in a disposable tray. It was already cooked, just had to be heated, and was packaged such that we put the whole thing in the oven for an hour or so. When we finally wanted to eat, it was a very welcome dinner. We all got so tired of ham (tho don't get me wrong, we were glad to have anything we didn't have to "prepare" - those first few days are just awful - its hard enough to walk into the kitchen)
Another favorite was the tater tot casserole.

Another family gave us certificates for the local pizza joint, which we ended up using after visitation. It lasted 2 hours longer than scheduled and it was actually a fairly happy time, all dad's friends and family sharing good things - so we grabbed pizza on the way back to mom's (at 11 at night).

The next week, a lady brought a huge pan of "maidrites" and hamburger buns. Maidrites are loose hamburgers, they're good, they're as fast as lunch meat (but aren't lunch meat), and easy.

Bring a couple pounds of hamburger to boil in water, cook til crumbly and brown
Drain water and fat
add a can of chicken brother and boil til the liquid is gone
Sounds silly, but they are veyr good (some recipes use Pepsi)

And we were very thankful for the paper plates and plastic silverware that folks brought.


Well-Known Member
I just had another thought. A tray of bagels and cream cheese
in the morning with fresh fruit in a disposable tray. I needed
"comfort" this morning and the bagel shop brought it to me. DDD


Well-Known Member
Barbara, I think your friends' family has chosen a wonderful way to remember their loved one! How much better it is to turn it into a celebration of his life!

My cousins' husband planned a celebration like this for himself BEFORE he died! He had fought cancer for years and had really had a rough time of it - never once did he complain! He was a wonderful man, a real "original". He had been a member of our family for 45 years, had a wicked sense of humor, and was really a character! He had donated his body to a university medical school so there was no actual funeral. But a week after he died, they held a memorial service for him at their church and a covered dish dinner afterwards. There were HUNDREDS of people there ... family, friends, neighbors, former co-workers, hospice staff that had cared for him. And the dinner went just as he would have wanted it ... everybody had brought their old pictures and started telling their favorite stories about him, some of the pranks he had pulled and the more outrageous things he had done. So there were all these people eating and talking and laughing themselves silly at the memories he had given them! It was wonderful!