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I am friends with a family of 3 girls (ages about 10-18), and a father. The mother is staying with the 4th child in the hospital, and only comes home occasionally for a quick shower. The oldest daughter is trying to make meals but is struggling.

I’m going to take the girls and father some meals, but I’m not a very inspired cook. What are good meals to cook and take to a family? Especially if they don’t eat the meal right away and need to leave it in the fridge or freeze it.

I’d like to make them a few meals and drop them all off at one time that they can keep and eat over the next week or so. (They live over half an hour away and so it’s not easy to just pop over every evening.)

Edited by Garga
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Lasagna

Stuff to make tacos (precooked meat that can be reheated, taco shells, toppings)

Soups/chili - add cornbread or breadsticks 

Bagged salad mixes (check the sell by date, I have luck keeping the bags in my fridge for about a week)

 

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A deli tray with a variety of meats and cheeses, plus breads and salad. Whatever they don’t eat, they can use for sandwiches or just plain for snacking. Makes an easy grab and go. 
 

Soup, bread, salad.

 

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That's so sweet of you!  If you don't know of a particular diet that they have, then I'd suggest traditional American dishes:  lasagna (which can also be frozen), homemade chicken noodle soup, bagged salads, meatloaf, frozen veggies that are in a bag that can be popped into the microwave, chicken enchiladas, simple baked chicken/potatoes/carrots ... some that can also be frozen, or just re-heated...   I have some pretty simple recipes for all of those if you're interested.  🙂 

Edited by J-rap
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6 minutes ago, J-rap said:

That's so sweet of you!  If you don't know of a particular diet that they have, then I'd suggest traditional American dishes:  lasagna (which can also be frozen), homemade chicken noodle soup, bagged salads, meatloaf, frozen veggies that are in a bag that can be popped into the microwave, chicken enchiladas, simple baked chicken/potatoes/carrots that can also be frozen or just re-heated...   I have some pretty simple recipes for all of those if you're interested.  🙂 

The only diet “restriction” is that none of them like mushrooms.  🙂

Can baked chicken/potatoes/carrots be frozen? I was wondering about that as I happen to be making that for my own family tonight and have never tried freezing it. I’m making chicken quarters with bones.

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Maybe some freezer meals, that they can thaw & toss in a crockpot or oven sheet. (Spaghetti sauce, chili, soup, roast or chicken in a marinade/sauce). Things like lasagna or a casserole they can just toss the oven. Add a bag salad and frozen garlic bread.

I like the deli tray option. 

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3 minutes ago, Garga said:

The only diet “restriction” is that none of them like mushrooms.  🙂

Can baked chicken/potatoes/carrots be frozen? I was wondering about that as I happen to be making that for my own family tonight and have never tried freezing it. I’m making chicken quarters with bones.

I think cooked potatoes might change a bit. 

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32 minutes ago, Garga said:

The only diet “restriction” is that none of them like mushrooms.  🙂

Can baked chicken/potatoes/carrots be frozen? I was wondering about that as I happen to be making that for my own family tonight and have never tried freezing it. I’m making chicken quarters with bones.

I do freeze anything -- including baked chicken and potatoes, but potatoes are never as good after being frozen. 

ETA:  I just realized that the way I worded my suggestions sounded like I meant that this in particular could be frozen and still taste good.  🙂  I edited my original post!

Edited by J-rap
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casseroles.   I'm particularly fond of greek.   A spinach peta (can be precooked, or not - just shove it in the oven when needed.), or a pastitsio.  aka: greek lasagna.   (which I want dh to make, as I have neither the strength or energy to make one myself right now.)  

lasagna is a casserole.  also only needs a side salad.  my son has been complaining about lack of garlic bread (which can be made up, wrapped in foil, and then baked when needed.  I loath the premade ones from the grocery store.).

you could also make up spaghetti sauce, with salad fixings - then she could just cook the noodles when they're ready to eat.

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Like someone already suggested if they have a crockpot then you could do a bunch of crockpot meals that they can freeze and then just throw in the crockpot.  So much easier to me than bake something for an hour or whatever. 

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Chicken pot pie. I get one of those Al foil pans and purchase the pie crusts that you unrolled. It doesn't look super pretty, but it is yummy.  I use this recipe (https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/26317/chicken-pot-pie-ix/) - but I cheat and use frozen peas & carrots. I usually add a block of cheese because we enjoy a slice of sharp cheddar with it. 

Chicken Tetrazzini -I use this recipe but leave out the mushrooms. I don't add the sherry, but everyone seems to enjoy it.  Add a bagged salad and a loaf of garlic bread, and you are good to go.  There are easier/quicker recipes!
https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/17646/chicken-tetrazzini-iv/

Calzones - I make a bunch of these - some just cheese, some with pepperoni too. I bake them, let them cool, and then put in freezer baggies. They can heat them up whenever they want, and since I make them about half size of traditional restaurant calzones, you can heat up one for a snack or two for a meal. Be sure to take a jar of pizza sauce (I don't put sauce in my calzones). 

Chicken Tortilla Soup - this recipe. I will cut the spicy stuff down unless I know the family likes it spicy. I don't add the cilantro to the soup, but I do take it when I deliver. I also take a bag of tortilla chips, shredded cheese, maybe sour cream and a couple of avocados. 
https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/218057/chicken-enchilada-slow-cooker-soup/

Chicken Enchiladas - no recipe, I just make them with a variety of things. I've also made vegan enchiladas with beans/rice/veggies. Those were a big hit. 

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I take burrito bowls, but that's a really easy, familiar meal for me, which makes it less stressful.

I do rice, beans, meat (or not; either ground meat or shredded chicken), lettuce, cheese, salsa, sour cream, and any toppings I have around.  Onions, peppers, cilantro, corn, avocado, etc.  I add a bag of chips and ice cream.  If i want to take more, I add muffins and fruit.  

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26 minutes ago, Bambam said:

Chicken pot pie. I get one of those Al foil pans and purchase the pie crusts that you unrolled. It doesn't look super pretty, but it is yummy.  I use this recipe (https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/26317/chicken-pot-pie-ix/) - but I cheat and use frozen peas & carrots. I usually add a block of cheese because we enjoy a slice of sharp cheddar with it. 

Chicken Tetrazzini -I use this recipe but leave out the mushrooms. I don't add the sherry, but everyone seems to enjoy it.  Add a bagged salad and a loaf of garlic bread, and you are good to go.  There are easier/quicker recipes!
https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/17646/chicken-tetrazzini-iv/

Calzones - I make a bunch of these - some just cheese, some with pepperoni too. I bake them, let them cool, and then put in freezer baggies. They can heat them up whenever they want, and since I make them about half size of traditional restaurant calzones, you can heat up one for a snack or two for a meal. Be sure to take a jar of pizza sauce (I don't put sauce in my calzones). 

Chicken Tortilla Soup - this recipe. I will cut the spicy stuff down unless I know the family likes it spicy. I don't add the cilantro to the soup, but I do take it when I deliver. I also take a bag of tortilla chips, shredded cheese, maybe sour cream and a couple of avocados. 
https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/218057/chicken-enchilada-slow-cooker-soup/

Chicken Enchiladas - no recipe, I just make them with a variety of things. I've also made vegan enchiladas with beans/rice/veggies. Those were a big hit. 

Bam, for the calzones, what dough do you use?  Can I use that refrigerated pizza dough at the grocery store?    
 

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1 minute ago, WildflowerMom said:

Bam, for the calzones, what dough do you use?  Can I use that refrigerated pizza dough at the grocery store?    
 

I don't see why that would not work. I make my own from this recipe - https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/20171/quick-and-easy-pizza-crust/ This recipe is really easy and it's always been successful for me. 

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2 minutes ago, WildflowerMom said:

Bam, for the calzones, what dough do you use?  Can I use that refrigerated pizza dough at the grocery store?    
 

Not Bam, but I use refrigerated pizza dough or Pillsbury French Bread Dough (that's been hard to find for me since the pandemic started). 

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When my mother's mother died, my mother's office sent over a very large spread of sandwiches from a catering company. Yo, that was a lifesaver. We ate nothing but those sandwiches for half the week. (It wasn't my grandmother's death that threw us so much for a loop, but my mother suddenly finding a lump the very same day and rushing around to make doctor's appointments. Still, it's the same principle. SANDWICHES.)

I'll take a moment - not that it helps the OP here - to point out that this is a reason all kids need to learn to cook before adulthood. If there are two parents in the home, and they have one adult child, then there's no reason that all the cooking should be done by the new adult during this time of hardship unless Dad is also at the hospital or pulling double shifts.

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Lasagne to be frozen

Roast, carrots and potatoes can be refrigerated and reheated over the week

Grilled chicken breast- I use this in lots of things,  by itself, in tacos,  salads, 

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Tanaqui said:

I'll take a moment - not that it helps the OP here - to point out that this is a reason all kids need to learn to cook before adulthood. If there are two parents in the home, and they have one adult child, then there's no reason that all the cooking should be done by the new adult during this time of hardship unless Dad is also at the hospital or pulling double shifts.

I really don’t know what Dad is doing in all this. I’m not sure why he’s not cooking meals, but...whatever. I’m friends with Mom and so I’m going to help out Mom who is worried for her kids at home without her, and her 18 yo calling her all upset because she ruined dinner. 

Edited by Garga
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Certainly. We should all help our friends and neighbors whenever they need it. That's the difference between a community and the end stages of Survivor.

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I don’t have any great ideas that haven’t been mentioned, but since mom isn’t there, I highly recommend putting reheating instructions on anything you take.  Having to guess the best way to heat food won’t help their stress.

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Stews and stew-like meals that can be make in big batches and then frozen in smaller meal portions are easy to make and are easy to reheat.

And they are especially easy if they can serve them as one-pot meals with meat, beans?, veggies, and a starch incorporated.

Bill

 

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Take whatever you decide then add in 1 or 2 more meals or snacks or partial meals or snacks.  Include a note that not only mentions their situation, but also outlines the included food.  Think outside the box.  If you provide dinner, then include breakfast and a few snack items as well or a couple of low $ amount fast food cards so they can pick up a meal on the go or coffee.

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Soups, casseroles, tacos, spaghetti, chili. . . 

 

Quiche or meat pie or spanakopita?

 

My family loves what the kids call snack plate and the adults call charcuterie, where we bring out small dishes of snacky things like cheese, meats, olives, pickles, dips, chips, crackers, fruits, you name it.  Sometimes we make a couple of frozen appetizers to go with them.  Aldi has tons of that sort of thing.  

 

And yes to sandwiches.  A friend once brought some platters of sandwiches, pastries, and fruits/veggies, and that was fantastic for grazing.

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, Tanaqui said:

Certainly. We should all help our friends and neighbors whenever they need it. That's the difference between a community and the end stages of Survivor.

I didn’t mean that you weren’t right. Sorry if I sounded like I was dismissing what you said. I didn’t mean to.

I honestly have no idea why Dad isn’t stepping up, and I do wonder at it. The couple have had very traditional roles in their marriage, so he might be completely clueless or unable to feed himself? Or he’s honestly just so stressed out about the medical situation that he’s not thinking clearly? I mean, his kid’s in the hospital, so, he could be falling apart. I got all the info through quickly texted messages that Mom was sending to me and so I only know the cliff’s notes version of what’s going on. 

I’ve made sure that my boys know how to cook all the meals we eat, especially the ones they like best and will probably cook when they move out on their own. I think it’s really important that kids can cook enough to feed themselves when they’re on their own as adults.

Edited by Garga
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Posted (edited)

I decided on three meals: 

1. lasagna with garlic bread

2. a chicken stew/soup thing with corn chips on top

3. chili with corn bread and veggies

Dessert/snacks: an apple pie, some nutella with bread, and a bag of cookies. I know...all sweet things, but I thought maybe the kids would just want some sweet kid food while they’re worried about their sibling.

 

If they need more food, then next week, I’ll probably do some sort of sandwich/meat/cheese platter and some taco/mexican types of food. We’ll see what the needs are. The medical issue is complex and I’m not sure how things will stabilize for them.

Edited by Garga
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1 hour ago, athena1277 said:

I don’t have any great ideas that haven’t been mentioned, but since mom isn’t there, I highly recommend putting reheating instructions on anything you take.  Having to guess the best way to heat food won’t help their stress.

Yes, I was thinking that, too. Good idea.

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15 minutes ago, Garga said:

I decided on three meals: 

1. lasagna with garlic bread

2. a chicken stew/soup thing with corn chips on top

3. chili with corn bread and veggies

Dessert/snacks: an apple pie, some nutella with bread, and a bag of cookies. I know...all sweet things, but I thought maybe the kids would just want some sweet kid food while they’re worried about their sibling.

 

If they need more food, then next week, I’ll probably do some sort of sandwich/meat/cheese platter and some taco/mexican types of food. We’ll see what the needs are. The medical issue is complex and I’m not sure how things will stabilize for them.

This is so thoughtful and generous of you and I'm sure it will be very much appreciated.  

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23 minutes ago, Garga said:

I decided on three meals: 

1. lasagna with garlic bread

2. a chicken stew/soup thing with corn chips on top

3. chili with corn bread and veggies

Dessert/snacks: an apple pie, some nutella with bread, and a bag of cookies. I know...all sweet things, but I thought maybe the kids would just want some sweet kid food while they’re worried about their sibling.

 

If they need more food, then next week, I’ll probably do some sort of sandwich/meat/cheese platter and some taco/mexican types of food. We’ll see what the needs are. The medical issue is complex and I’m not sure how things will stabilize for them.

Now I want to know what the chicken stew/soup thing is with corn chips on top!  My dh's family always serves chili with corn chips on top.

Edited by J-rap
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Chicken spaghetti reheats wonderfully. I second the sandwich tray or a meat/cheese tray. If they eat fruit, some precut fruit would be good. Also, shepherd's pie, tater tot casserole. I have been making sheet pan dinners and they freeze and reheat well. 

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You've already gotten lots of good ideas. I'm not surprised the man can't make meals happen. My dh's idea of putting on a meal would be frying a log of deer for manwich or ordering pizza. He can also grill burgers. For him to do this, the food needs to be in the house.

What's a little more odd is that the 18 yo can't make the meals happen. What you might do is offer to sit down and help her meal plan and take her shopping. You could even do it by skype. And make it easy. Like you buy a rotisserie chicken and eat it with a bag salad. You buy meat and eat it with manwich and frozen french fries. Cook spaghetti and warm frozen green beans. Frozen fish plus a bag of frozen quinoa. Won't be glorious, but it's food. 

Just thinking if this problem is going to go on multiple weeks, that's the kind of help she'll need. She might need help to set up the Walmart grocery app and place an order that her dad can pick up. That way they have the groceries for her to do this.

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I took my neighbor many meals and her kids later told me that their favorite one was the breakfast for dinner meal that I sent. I sent a breakfast casserole, fruit salad, and sweet rolls. 

Have you organized a meal train so other friends can join in? 

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, J-rap said:

 

Now I want to know what the chicken stew/soup thing is with corn chips on top!  My dh's family always serves chili with corn chips on top.

It’s called 8 Can Chicken Soup, because you’re supposed to get all the ingredients from cans. I don’t though. I replace the cans with real versions of the food, when possible. 

Here’s the recipe as written:

1/2 tsp garlic powder (I use 5 or 6 cloves garlic)

1/2 tsp onion powder (I use a whole real onion)

15 oz pinto beans, rinse drain (but you can soak and prep your own beans)

15 oz black beans, rinse drain (see above)

15 oz sweet corn, drain (I use frozen)

14.5 oz tomatoes (I use the canned)

12.5 oz can chicken, drain and shred (you can use real chicken)

10 oz green enchilada sauce (I use the can)

4 oz diced green chiles (I use the can)

14 oz chicken broth

1 package taco seasoning

1/2 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp chili powder (but I use turmeric instead because I like it better)


I saute the garlic and onion and then just dump the rest in, bring to a boil, then let it simmer for 20 minutes

You can top each bowl with sour cream, corn chips, or avocado as you like. 

It’s not quite as thin as soup and not quite as thick as stew. It’s sort of in between. And it freezes wonderfully.

Edited by Garga
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43 minutes ago, PeterPan said:

 

What's a little more odd is that the 18 yo can't make the meals happen.

Totally off topic but my kids couldn't cook at 18.  My sons are older now (26-30) and two of them are excellent cooks.  The other eats healthy and cooks for himself but he doesn't like it and makes it as easy as possible.  My daughter is 18 and she can cook just a little bit but will have to learn more this summer since she'll be making her own meals in college next year.  

I do think they *should* have been more independent in the kitchen at 18, but they were all so busy and not interested in cooking that I never pushed it.  

 

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58 minutes ago, Garga said:

It’s called 8 Can Chicken Soup, because you’re supposed to get all the ingredients from cans. I don’t though. I replace the cans with real versions of the food, when possible. 

Here’s the recipe as written:

1/2 tsp garlic powder (I use 5 or 6 cloves garlic)

1/2 tsp onion powder (I use a whole real onion)

15 oz pinto beans, rinse drain (but you can soak and prep your own beans)

15 oz black beans, rinse drain (see above)

15 oz sweet corn, drain (I use frozen)

14.5 oz tomatoes (I use the canned)

12.5 oz can chicken, drain and shred (you can use real chicken)

10 oz green enchilada sauce (I use the can)

4 oz diced green chiles (I use the can)

14 oz chicken broth

1 package taco seasoning

1/2 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp chili powder (but I use turmeric instead because I like it better)


I saute the garlic and onion and then just dump the rest in, bring to a boil, then let it simmer for 20 minutes

You can top each bowl with sour cream, corn chips, or avocado as you like. 

It’s not quite as thin as soup and not quite as thick as stew. It’s sort of in between. And it freezes wonderfully.

Thanks!  I'm going to try this!

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I support the idea of meal train. 

If this is an ongoing thing, is it possible for them to buy an Instant pot ? It has so many videos on Youtube of easy, one pot meals. You can saute in it, once all the ingredients are put in, you just add some liquid, set the timer and it cooks by itself. It keeps things warm. It is something my 4 year old is able to manage mostly on her own. Lots of videos online of various cuisines with nutritious and easy meals. 

Will the 18 year old be able to do something like that with her sisters ?

Thank you for organizing and showing up with food. It is a supreme blessing and a kindness especially as the most recent recipient of a meal train during vaccine recovery organized by a kind friend helped enormously both body and soul. In my culture, there is a blessing associated for this very act known as annadatta sukhibava meaning oh provide of food, may you be blessed. 

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2 hours ago, PeterPan said:

You've already gotten lots of good ideas. I'm not surprised the man can't make meals happen. My dh's idea of putting on a meal would be frying a log of deer for manwich or ordering pizza. He can also grill burgers. For him to do this, the food needs to be in the house.

What's a little more odd is that the 18 yo can't make the meals happen. What you might do is offer to sit down and help her meal plan and take her shopping. You could even do it by skype. And make it easy. Like you buy a rotisserie chicken and eat it with a bag salad. You buy meat and eat it with manwich and frozen french fries. Cook spaghetti and warm frozen green beans. Frozen fish plus a bag of frozen quinoa. Won't be glorious, but it's food. 

Just thinking if this problem is going to go on multiple weeks, that's the kind of help she'll need. She might need help to set up the Walmart grocery app and place an order that her dad can pick up. That way they have the groceries for her to do this.

I will stick up for the 18 year old.  A friend’s daughter could it cook at all ( burned water, microwave dinners and all) until she was 20 and something just clicked.  Meal planning and showing her repeatedly was just over her head at the time. Now she is a fantastic cook.  I can see if she had the added stress of cooking for her family making it worse. 

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3 hours ago, PeterPan said:

What you might do is offer to sit down and help her meal plan and take her shopping. You could even do it by skype. And make it easy. Like you buy a rotisserie chicken and eat it with a bag salad. You buy meat and eat it with manwich and frozen french fries. Cook spaghetti and warm frozen green beans. Frozen fish plus a bag of frozen quinoa. Won't be glorious, but it's food. 

Just thinking if this problem is going to go on multiple weeks, that's the kind of help she'll need. She might need help to set up the Walmart grocery app and place an order that her dad can pick up. That way they have the groceries for her to do this.

I agree. This is something that might be really helpful. There is curbside pickup and door delivery of grocery commonly available now, so they can pull it off with some instruction and guidance. You could make a list of things that are easy meals that anyone can make in their family. I would even suggest that you print out a list with those and drop off along with the food that you are sending them:

- bagged salad, bottled dressing

- frozen pizza with a bag of frozen veggies (peppers) as extra toppings

- Buying pre-washed produce like green beans, baby carrots etc and microwaving them and adding salt and pepper and olive oil as a side

- baking frozen french fries, sweet potato fries etc

- Quesadilla with cheese and frozen corn sprinkled with taco seasoning

- grilled cheese sandwiches with premade tomato soup from the grocery store (canned, cartons or deli)

- avocado toast

- hummus and vegetables or chips for dipping

- fresh ravioli and tortellini from the deli section which only requires boiling for a few minutes

I will post more if I can think of more easy meal ideas.

Edited by mathnerd
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I think we all need to give this family some grace.  They have a sick sibling, mom isn't there, and lots of worry and uncertainty.   

 

I thought of another easy meal- pulled pork sandwiches.  I use the Pioneer Woman recipie.  Can be frozen or refrigerated.  I usually make with PW Baked Beans and slaw.  

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I sometimes like to take breakfast things loaves of quick breads, baked cheese grits, easy to heat sausages, breakfast casserole) ... sometimes a lot of people bring dinners and similar dishes (it seems like everybody has a baked pasta dish- lasagne, ziti, stuffed rolls) ... it is well recieved. 

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