Thoughtful Meals Ideas For Grieving Families

When we are grieving, food is often the last thing on our mind. It’s very easy for grieving individuals to skip meals and have less interest in preparing meals for their family. This is why offering gifts of food is so popular when someone loses someone close.

Offering home-cooked food is a simple way to show your support and lighten the load for a family in need. You could offer frozen meals that are ready to throw in the oven, or pre-portioned snacks to help keep their energy levels up. You could even offer a food delivery voucher to allow them to pick their own meal.

What is the best food to give to a grieving family?

Giving the gift of home-cooked food is one of the simple ways to show your support and let a family know that they are in your thoughts. The meals don’t have to be elaborate or expensive, in fact, simple meals are often better. 

Always check in advance if any of the family members have any food requirements. Many of these meals can easily be made vegetarian, vegan or gluten-free. Here are some ideas for thoughtful meals to give a grieving family:


A homemade soup is warming, comforting and nourishing. It's also light enough that a grieving family member will be able to enjoy this even when food is the last thing on their mind. Pair this with a large crusty loaf of bread to complete the gift.

Chilli and stews

Like soup, chilli and stews are warming, comforting and nourishing. They're also easy to make in large batches so you can feed a grieving family for multiple days.

Pasta dishes

Pasta is another cheap, easy and filling meal that can be made in large batches. It's the perfect comfort food for anyone going through a tough time. This can also be pre-portioned and frozen, which is helpful if they have received a lot of food gifts.


A roast dinner is the classic comfort food. You can pre-portion it into meals, or package up the components individually so the family can reheat them at home and enjoy a home cooked family meal without any of the stress.

These are all meal ideas that can be easily reheated and don't require a lot of time or effort to prepare. This is important for grieving families as they may not have the energy or inclination to cook meals from scratch.

In addition to these meal ideas, you could also offer:

  • Pre-prepared fruit
  • Energy bars or granola bars
  • Homemade hummus or dip and chopped veggies, tortilla chips or pita chips
  • Fun snacks for children like Babybel or cheese strings
  • A food delivery voucher so they can order their favourite meals
  • A gift card to a local food shop so they can purchase any food items they need. You could also pick up food for them to prepare at home.

What is most helpful to a grieving family?

When you are trying to decide what food to give a grieving family, it's important to think about what will be most helpful for them. Simple meals that can be easily reheated are often the most popular as it means they don't have to do anything.

You should also make sure you deliver the food in a disposable container or one that you don't mind giving away. It can be stressful to keep on top of who gave you what dish, so don't hand over your mac and cheese in your favourite Le Creuset casserole dish.

If you're unsure what to make, ask the family if there is anything specific they would like or if they have any dietary requirements. You could also offer to bring over supplies so they can make their own meals. This gives them the option to prepare something themselves if they're feeling up to it, or to have someone else do the cooking for them.


Meals you can order for them

In the week that follows the funeral, families will often have a fridge full of food that has been kindly given to them. But after a while, when the casseroles run out, the visits may become less frequent. This can be the most difficult time for the family, as the support will drop away but they will still be grieving.

It can be helpful to order food for them during this time so they don't have to worry about cooking or going out to buy groceries. These meals will let the family know they are still in your thoughts. Try these takeaway options to let a grieving family know you are thinking about them.

  • Pizza: This is universally popular and can easily be made vegan, vegetarian or even gluten-free. You can also add a large side salad and dessert to make it a special occasion.
  • Chinese food: You don't have to know what everyone likes to be able to build an exciting food order. Choose a few different starters, mains and sides to create a comforting and delicious family meal.
  • Thai food: This is typically lighter than Chinese food and will have plenty of vegan and vegetarian options if this is a consideration. Again, you can mix and match different dishes to create a well-rounded meal.
  • Indian food: If you want to send over a heartier meal, then choose an Indian takeaway. There are so many options available that there will be something for everyone. Just make sure you specify any dietary requirements when placing your order.
  • Mexican food: Burritos and tacos are filling and can be made with different fillings to suit everyone's taste. You could also order nachos or quesadillas as a starter or side.

Food to take to a funeral

If the funeral or wake will be hosted in a family member's home, you could also consider taking food for the funeral. Check in advance to see if they will be putting out food and ask if there is anything you can bring. You could try the following ideas to keep things simple:

  • Sandwich platters: These are popular as they are easy to eat and people can help themselves without much fuss. You could make a selection of sandwiches with different fillings, such as chicken, ham, cheese or tuna.
  • Fruit platters: These look impressive but are actually very simple to prepare. Choose a mix of fresh and dried fruit, along with some nuts to create a healthy and hearty platter.
  • Vegetable platters: These are a great option if you are catering for vegetarians or vegans. Choose a mix of raw and cooked vegetables, along with some dips to create a tasty and filling platter.
  • Wraps: These are a good alternative to sandwiches as they can be made with different fillings and are easy to eat. There's also minimal clean up at the end, as guests can use paper plates.

Why is it important to send sympathy food?

Sending sympathy food is a kind and thoughtful way to support a grieving family. It shows that you are thinking about them and that you want to help in any way you can. It can also be a practical way to help, as the family may not have the time or energy to cook meals for themselves.

When sending sympathy food, it's important to consider any dietary requirements that the family may have. You could also ask if there are any specific dishes that they would like. If you're unsure, then a selection of different dishes is always a good idea.

Whatever you choose to send, make sure it comes from the heart and that you include a personal message letting the family know they are in your thoughts.