Cookies, pies, cakes, brittles, fudge… Lasagna? Expand your typical holiday baking ideas and spread holiday cheer by bringing a meal to a single service member, a family who is moving, a family with a deployed loved one or a new mom!

For the single service member:
When choosing a meal to bring, think about the ease of re-heating (many have a lackluster kitchen at their disposal). Consider bringing a one pan meal such as lasagna, chicken soup, or a hearty chili. It is also good to pick a meal that will yield plenty for leftover lunches. Do not forget a few holiday cookies to round off the meal with something special!


For the family whose spouse is deployed:
Anything goes here! This family will be grateful for the little break and the one less thing on their holiday to do list! When I bring meals over to a friend I try to include three parts:  a main meal (I love to do pork tenderloin), a salad and additional side (baked sweet potatoes). No matter what you bring over, a thoughtful and healthy meal will make such a difference in their stress level and will make them feel good!


For the PCSers:
It is important for this meal to go well with paper plates and plastic utensils just in case all the real stuff is already packed. I think it is also good if this meal is healthy. This family will be eating a lot of fast food when they hit the road, so they will surely appreciate something with a nutritional punch.  The blog Annie's Eats has a great list of suggestions to make for new mothers and they will also work perfectly to bring to your friends who are moving.


If cooking is not one of your talents, do not fret, bring over an assortment of cold cuts and sandwich fixings or a pre-made meal from the grocery store. These meals are also good for bringing to a friend who has just moved in. I find tackling the unpacking of the kitchen takes the most work, and most would welcome a meal that can just be popped into the oven. These easy meal options save time and reduce the stress of finding all the appropriate pots and pans and scraping together pantry staples.


For the family with a new baby:
As a recent new mom (can I still claim that if my daughter is one?), it was so very helpful to have a meal prepared for us. It allows new parents to get in a little nap, or spend some quality time with their other children instead of throwing together a dinner.  Consider bringing over a meal that can be frozen. This will help them on a particularly rough day when cooking is not an option. One of my favorite food blogs just posted a list of freezer meals she made in preparation of her new baby. Check out her ideas here.

Food is a great way to bond with an old friend, get closer to someone new, bring comfort in a time of need, and can reduce the stress of the recipient greatly! Save the ones you care about from sad, holiday fast food eating and bring them a homemade (or at least heartfelt) meal!

Here are a few more meal ideas:
10 Make-Ahead Meals to Bring to Family or Friends
Healthy Make-Ahead Meals and Side Dishes
Have something to add to this story? Please share your insight in the comments!