Great Meals for Friends

For a friend in need or just because, these healthy recipes travel well and make great gifts for others.

Tips for Making Meals for Friends

Photo: Johnny Autry

Tips for Making Meals for Friends

It's a lovely gift for any friend who could use a night off from cooking. For tips on making meals extra special, we talked to contributor Marge Perry, who offers these ideas:

• Don't make it a surprise—talk to your friend about what day works best for the delivery. Anticipation of the meal is part of the fun.
• Be sure to include a menu so recipients know exactly what they're getting.
• Provide disposable plates, utensils, and napkins so cleanup is easy.
• Bring food in a casserole dish that's part of the gift; don't make the recipient responsible for returning your dishes. Alternately, use disposable containers.
• Provide heating/freezing instructions.
• Include a small treat for other family members: dog bones or cat toy.
• Tuck in a time-consuming puzzle to keep a toddler busy while Mom tends to a newborn or wraps presents.
• Include a separate package with tea bags and candles for peaceful moments: nice for new moms.

Chicken and Sausage Gumbo

Photo: Iain Bagwell

Chicken and Sausage Gumbo

This Cajun-favorite is easy to transport and even easier to devour. Looking for a little something extra to bring along? Our corn muffins are a good option.

View Recipe: Chicken and Sausage Gumbo

Greek Chicken and Barley Salad

Photo: Becky Luigart-Stayner

Greek Chicken and Barley Salad

Dress up a Greek salad by adding barley to the cucumber, tomato, feta, and kalamata olives. Packaging idea: Tie a ribbon around a pretty serving spoon and include it with this one-dish meal.

View Recipe: Greek Chicken and Barley Salad

Penne Rigate with Spicy Sausage and Zucchini in Tomato Cream Sauce

Photo: Johnny Autry

Penne Rigate with Spicy Sausage and Zucchini in Tomato Cream Sauce

Use cauliflower or roasted peppers if your meal recipients don't like zucchini. For an extra special gift, give in small, individual ceramic dishes for your friends to keep.

View Recipe: Penne Rigate with Spicy Sausage and Zucchini in Tomato Cream Sauce

Chicken Tamale Casserole

Photo: Randy Mayor

Chicken Tamale Casserole

This casserole is a quick and easy swap for more traditional tamales - but just as delicious. Be sure to include a recipe card when you bring this meal for friends. It will be a gift that keeps on giving.

View Recipe: Chicken Tamale Casserole

All-American Chili

All-American Chili

Perfect for a cold day, be sure to bring this chili to a friend complete with all the fixings: shredded cheddar, chopped onion, and sour cream. Package each topping individually so that everyone can make up their bowl to their own preference.

View Recipe: All-American Chili

Chicken and Rice Casserole

Photo: John Autry

Chicken and Rice Casserole

Although the yellow and green squash give this hearty one-dish meal a colorful appearance, you can use one or the other, if you prefer.

View Recipe: Chicken and Rice Casserole

Wild Mushroom Pastitsio

Photo: John Autry

Wild Mushroom Pastitsio

Perfectly giftable, this rustic casserole has something for everyone: creamy sauce, earthy mushrooms, and a cheesy topping.

View Recipe: Wild Mushroom Pastitsio

Old-Fashioned Chicken Noodle Soup

Photo: Sang An

Old-Fashioned Chicken Noodle Soup

Bring a bowl of warmth to a friend with this classic American comfort food. Flavorful stock, fresh-cooked chicken, traditional vegetables, and egg noodles lend starchy body to the broth of this favorite soup.

View Recipe: Old-Fashioned Chicken Noodle Soup

Beef Pot Roast with Turnip Greens

Photo: Nina Choi

Beef Pot Roast with Turnip Greens

Cipollini onions are small, flat Italian onions. If you can't find them, substitute pearl onions. Other large full-flavored greens like mustard greens or kale will work, as well. This slow-cooker recipe is a winner when you're looking for a time-conscious meal to make for a friend.

View Recipe: Beef Pot Roast with Turnip Greens

Tortilla Meatball Soup

Photo: John Autry

Tortilla Meatball Soup

If you can't find fresh corn on the cob, substitute 2 cups frozen corn kernels, and broil them with peppers. Your friends aren't the only ones who will get a yummy gift when you cook this recipe: Hang on to the extra chipotle peppers and use them to spice up a pot of beans, rice, stews, or canola mayonnaise.

View Recipe: Tortilla Meatball Soup

Creamy Chicken Salad

Photo: John Autry

Creamy Chicken Salad

Poaching the chicken keeps it moist and succulent, so you'll need less dressing to bind the chicken salad. Tote along rolls and a fresh green salad to the complete this friendly meal.

View Recipe: Creamy Chicken Salad

Rachel's Special Occasion Lasagna

Rachel's Special Occasion Lasagna

Stock a friend's freezer with this lasagna recipe—just leave thawing and baking instructions so it's ready to go whenever a quick and hearty meal is needed.

View Recipe: Rachel's Special Occasion Lasagna

Pork and Slaw Sandwiches

Photo: John Autry

Pork and Slaw Sandwiches

The pulled pork sandwich is a crowd-pleasing classic, and cooking the roast in a slow cooker makes this dish incredibly easy. Bring the pulled pork over with all the fixings: buns, coleslaw, and extra barbecue sauce.

View Recipe: Pork and Slaw Sandwiches

Sweet Potato Chicken Curry

Photo: Becky Luigart-Stayner

Sweet Potato Chicken Curry

Sweet potato elevates this chicken curry. Steam jasmine rice and pack in a separate container before bringing this meal to a friend.

View Recipe: Sweet Potato Chicken Curry

Basic Beef Stew with Carrots and Mushrooms

Basic Beef Stew with Carrots and Mushrooms

This classic beef stew recipe has all you expect in beef stew: tender chunks of beef, carrot, and potato. Yet the cremini mushrooms are a wonderful surprise. The slow-cooked flavor will show your friends just how much you care.

View Recipe: Basic Beef Stew with Carrots and Mushrooms

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