Comforting dishes you can make for someone going through tough times

Comforting dishes you can make for someone going through tough times

When your world seems like it’s falling apart — and just dragging yourself out of bed and into the kitchen to pop a few Oreos into your mouth can seem like a daunting task — shopping for and cooking something can seem downright impossible. If your friend or family member is going through a terrible ordeal, making something delicious and delivering it to their door with a cute little note may not scare away the monsters, but it can provide sustenance for the difficult (and hopefully healing) days ahead. These are the dishes New York Times cookbook editors and writers love to prepare for their loved ones.

When someone I care about is stuck or trying to cope with something difficult, I often make lasagna for them. Most people like it. For meat eaters, I make a combination of Regina’s Schrambling recipe and this recipe from Alison Roman; For vegetables, I like Martha Rose Shulman. Either way, it’s large enough to provide multiple meals, or to feed a larger group, which eliminates at least one thing my friend has to worry about. Plus, my oldest son, who is 8, loves helping assemble the lasagna, which makes it a gesture from our family. Brett Anderson

I crave casseroles topped with gooey cheese when I’m down, so, when someone I love is struggling, I love whipping up a tray of these amazing enchiladas from Rick A. Martinez. They also freeze like a dream, so you can portion them into serving-sized containers that can be thawed and reheated as needed. Margo Lasky

recipe: Chicken dough sheets

I like to bring bags of cookie dough for friends’ refrigerators so they can have a warm, fresh cookie whenever they want. You can make this beautiful piece from Millie Peartree, or your own. That’s the nice thing about cookie dough: most recipes are highly freezable. Christine Chambro

Since grief can either eliminate or increase hunger at unexpected times, I like to give food that freezes well and feels nourishing. I pack the bacon and collard greens in pint containers, and seal the biscuits in an airtight bag. These oatmeal chocolate chip cookies also come in a bag and don’t even have to be thawed if you get a craving, but reheating them in a toaster oven gives them a comforting warmth. Genevieve Coe

recipe: Pulled pork

When a family member or friend doesn’t have time to be in the kitchen, I rummage through the refrigerator and pantry and whip up sancocho, a hefty protein and root vegetable soup meant to warm the soul. Von Diaz’s recipe is a great base to work from. Use whatever you have on hand. Once done, the soup can be frozen and reheated on the stove. Be sure to remind your loved ones to add a few drops of hot sauce for extra flavor. Gina Fernandez

recipe: com. sancocho

The last thing I want to do when I’m in a mess is clean, chopped produce, so I like to show up with Ali Slagle’s Fruit Salad Containers and a hearty chopped salad like Hettie Loe McKinnon’s Southern-inspired Salty and Sweet Broccoli Salad. This improves when he sits. The mother in me loves knowing that I helped them get something green and solid into their bodies. Margo Lasky

recipe: Broccoli salad

There’s such a thing as a comforting cake, and I think this almond cake by Lindsey Shere of Chez Panisse Desserts is a perfect example. Easy to make, love, and even better the next day? It’s also thin, but structurally sound enough for a subway ride in a large suitcase, or a bumpy car ride in someone’s lap, meaning you can easily transport it to the person you love without worrying that it will fall apart. The fruit and cream topping in Melissa Clark’s version would make it extra special, but the cake doesn’t Owns to wear. It’s perfect just the way it is. Tejal Rao

recipe: Almond cake with peaches and cream

There’s something inherently soothing about soup—and it’s much easier to reheat than a casserole. This can be lunch or dinner, served plain or with rice, garnished or not, and served cold or hot. Julia Mosquin

I love protein-packed salads like Julia Mosquin’s Chicken Salad (egg salad or tuna salad are great too) that can be picked up throughout the week. They can eat it straight from the container in the refrigerator or put it in pita bread or wrap it with a handful of potato chips. Margo Lasky

recipe: Chicken salad

When my buds need some boost, it’s time for mochi cakes. Hetty Lowe MacKinnon’s recipe is soothing to both the giver (it’s six ingredients and comes together in the time it takes to preheat the oven) and the recipient (the sweet rice flour gives the cakes a unique bounce and chew, plus they’re chocolatey.). Add nuts if you have them, or don’t – they’re a perfect refreshment just as they are. Mia Leimkuhler

recipe: Mochi brownies

It’s easy to make a few pint containers of Tejal Rao’s simple and convenient toor dal and pop them in the fridge — and it’s even easier for your loved ones to defrost them and have a comforting meal. Bonus points if you bring them tempering items (ghee, curry leaves and other whole spices) that they can quickly fry and add to the dish. Becky Hughes

recipe: Phase D

This is a gift that keeps on giving: There are up to six servings in Genevieve Ko’s recipe, so it can be eaten throughout the week (for any meal, really) and can also be portioned and frozen. And for the person who does it, it’s quick and easy to customize to fit whatever you have in your refrigerator drawer. Melissa Knevik

recipe: Loaded with baked frittata

Hard times inevitably lead to dinner being postponed – last-minute delivery from the only place open, yesterday’s pizza cold from the fridge, and one scrambled egg. Having a jar of Genevieve Ko chili on hand means instant spice, brightness, and texture to any meal that might be thrown together, which is why I’ll cook a big batch at the first sign of distress. Mia Leimkuhler

There’s a reason why “chicken soup for the soul” has become a thing: a brothy bowl of noodles is the food equivalent of a big, warm hug. Plus, Ali Slagle’s recipe freezes beautifully, so lucky recipients can store it in the freezer for later in the week, or month, if they still don’t want to cook. Melissa Knevik

recipe: Chicken vermicelli soup

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