Planning Meals for Sick Friends

When your friend is fighting cancer, or any particular illness, one of the most helpful things you can do is deliver a meal or two. It doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, a simply presented, but delicious meal might be just what the family of a sick loved one needs. If you are feeling intimated by the process or just aren’t sure where to start, here are some simple ideas for delivering meals to friends in need.

meals for sick friends

Treatment Considerations

Be aware of treatments your friend may be undergoing. Some cause pain in the mouth or throat that make it difficult to swallow. If your loved one needs a softer diet, consider soups or bisques that are pureed and full of flavor. You could also get creative and bring breakfast with a fruit

The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society recommends cancer patients who are suffering from nausea from chemotherapy or other treatments eat more frequent, smaller meals throughout the day. Consider bringing casseroles, pasta dishes, stews, or other meals that are all in one and can be served in small portions throughout the day.

 Health and Safety

Cancer treatments can compromise the immune system of patients. Keep nutrition in mind when you deliver meals for sick friends. Choose dishes that are packed with nutrients and healthy ingredients that will support the health of everyone with every bite. Depending on the time of year, choose seasonal fruits and vegetables for salads and sides.

Because immune systems can be a bit weaker during and after cancer treatments, avoid potential food borne illness in raw or undercooked foods. Take extra care to cook meat and wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly.


Consider the needs of everyone who will be enjoying your meal. Talk with a friend or family member to find out if there are any allergies or sensitivities among those staying with or visiting your friend with cancer. Look for alternatives, such as gluten-free flour or lactose-free milk, when creating your meal plan, to avoid specific allergies.


To ease the burden on the recipients of your meals, deliver it in reusable or disposable containers. Most grocery stores carry aluminums pans for baking casseroles, brownies and more. Reusable plastic containers are available at many stores at a reasonable price. Because they stack well, they also make it easy for traveling. For a beautiful presentation, pick up inexpensive serving plates at a thrift store or off-price department store. Make sure you leave a note that tells your friend that she is welcome to keep the containers.


Stick an address label or note on each container with all the descriptive information your friend needs for eating and serving each dish. Information might include reheating instructions, serving instructions, ingredients, and tips for enjoying it, such as recommended dressings or toppings.

Don’t Forget

When you deliver a meal to a sick friend, make it complete. Include all the condiments they might need, even if you think they might have them. If your friend has been in the hospital or busy with cancer treatments, the family may have run low on certain ingredients. If your friend doesn’t have a big group visiting or if you are particularly close, you may want to offer to bring dinner and eat together. Sometimes the company and conversation are as nourishing as the meal.

To ensure a healthy rotation, get your friends and family together to plan meals for your friend with cancer. For more tips on supporting friends in need, check out our post on what to say to friends after surgery. If you aren’t sure how to get started, here’s a Lotsa webinar with specific information on creating a community to plan meals.

Remember, if you are looking for ways to help a sick friend, you can always create a Community to organize friends and family during times of need. We’re always here to help.

Photo by He and She Eat Clean