It can be hard to know what to say when someone has surgery, but that’s okay because actions speak louder than words. If someone you love has surgery, don’t just write a sympathy message and call it a day.
Step up! Perform a meaningful action to show your support. Help with laundry and chores or drive your friend or loved one to doctor appointments.
Remember, your friend or loved one who’s fresh out of surgery may not have the energy to cook. Help by preparing meals. Here are some ideas for simple and satisfying meals you can drop off.
Tip: Unfortunately, surgery and medical intervention can't always save a life. If you've recently lost someone, our post-loss checklist can help you work through the tasks and challenges you might face.
Our Top Picks for Giving Homemade Meals
- TrueSeal Round Glass Food Storage Containers ($22.61)
- Non-Stick Bakeware Muffin Pan ($9.98)
- Vital Farms Pasture-Raised Eggs ($7.39)
- Everyday Value, Organic Gold Potatoes ($4.12)
- Happy Belly Shredded Cheese ($1.99)
- Anthony's Textured Vegetable Protein ($13.49)
- Fresh Brand Fruit Mix ($4.01)
- Whole Foods Market, Organic Salad Kit ($4.99)
- 10-Qt. Express Crockpot ($134.97)
- Bellemain Porcelain Ramekins ($15.38)
- Nature's Eats Blanched Slivered Almonds ($7.68)
- BetterBody Foods Organic Quinoa ($7.74)
1. Chicken Noodle Soup
Chicken noodle soup has to be the first on our list. It’s easy on the stomach and packed with protein and veggies. Consider pouring it into separate containers, like these food storage containers with airtight lids, so your loved one can pop a portion into the microwave for quick and easy reheating.
Don’t have a lot of time? Use a pre-cooked rotisserie chicken to ensure your soup is ready in under an hour.
2. Mini Meatloaf Muffins
Meatloaf is another comfort food option for someone who is recovering. It can be a bit heavy, so instead of making one large meatloaf, make a batch of mini meatloaf muffins with a basic muffin pan.
Any uneaten muffins can be popped in the freezer and saved for another time. Add a garden salad to create a more balanced meal. Just be sure to keep the dressing on the side so the salad doesn’t wilt.
3. Individual Breakfast Casseroles
People often focus on lunch and dinner when someone’s sick, but breakfast is the most important meal of the day! Breakfast casseroles are tasty, filling, and freeze and reheat very well.
Eggs, potatoes, and cheese form a great (delicious) base. Incorporate bacon or sausage if your friend or loved one enjoys meat. You can also make vegetarian breakfast casseroles with egg, bell peppers, onions, corn, or numerous other veggies.
4. Lasagna Roll-Ups
Lasagnas and baked pasta dishes may be a little overwhelming for a single person who is recovering from surgery. Lasagna roll-ups hit all those tasty Italian flavors with tangy tomato sauce, creamy ricotta, and al dente pasta.
They come in individual portions, so a few pieces at a time can be popped into the microwave and served. Include ground beef for meat-eaters or make a hearty vegetarian meal using spinach or a meat alternative like this vegetable protein.
5. Chicken Pot Pie
Is there any food more soothing than a chicken pot pie and its hearty filling, creamy gravy and flaky, buttery crust? It’s packed with meat and veggies so it’s fairly nutritious, too.
It’s also a stick-to-your-ribs favorite for people who need to gain weight after a lengthy recovery process. You can make a homemade pie crust if you’re feeling ambitious. If not, in the words of Ina Garten, “Store-bought is fine.” We like the Pillsbury crescent dough sheet as a quick storebought option.
6. Chicken Enchilada Casserole
Your friend or loved one’s doctor may have called for a somewhat bland diet, but after a while, that can get old. Tex-Mex style food is always a good addition to the menu.
It packs in lots of good flavors and isn’t overly spicy. A chicken enchilada casserole is always a great option because you can adjust the heat levels for your patient. If you're short on time, consider picking up some premade enchilada sauce.
7. Ham and Cheese Quiche
Quiches are one of those flexible dishes that can be eaten at any time of the day. They’re perfect with a fruit salad at breakfast or with a spinach salad for lunch or dinner. They also reheat beautifully.
Make-ahead quiche recipes can usually go straight from the freezer to the oven without needing to be thawed. You can also pack up some fruit or veggie side salads.
8. Asian Lettuce Wraps
Looking for something light and flavorful? You can prep some tasty Asian-inspired lettuce wraps. A meat-based filling can be seasoned with salty-sweet hoisin sauce and tangy rice vinegar as well as ginger, garlic, and sesame oil.
The flavor is very well-rounded. The filling can then be wrapped in tender butter lettuce leaves. Find a good recipe for Asian lettuce wraps, prepare the filling, and freeze it and reheat it in individual portions. Don’t forget to bring the lettuce!
9. Freezer Breakfast Burritos
Here’s another great option for a simple breakfast that can go from the freezer to the table in minutes. Stuff rolled up flour tortillas and fill them with things like refried beans, tater tots, scrambled eggs, cheese, and breakfast sausage.
You can also add wholesome veggies like onions, bell peppers, and tomatoes. Breakfast burritos can go straight from the freezer to the microwave and be ready in minutes.
10. Crockpot Sesame Chicken
Mmmm… Sesame chicken. Dice up large chunks of chicken and stir in broccoli and red bell peppers. Whip up a sesame chicken sauce and stir it in with the chicken and veggies.
Freeze the entire mixture in a large Ziploc bag. The patient will just need to put it in the crockpot and enjoy the satisfying aromas of an effortless home-cooked meal in his or her own home.
Just make sure your friend or loved one has a crockpot before dropping this off!
11. Macaroni and Cheese
Macaroni and cheese = An all-time classic comfort food. It’s also super easy to make. Are you preparing a meal for a family? If so, bring your best mac and cheese recipe over in a full sheet pan.
You could also split your go-to mac and cheese recipe into individual ramekins like these porcelain ones from Amazon for smaller portions if it’s just for one person.
12. Chicken and Wild Rice Casserole
A chicken and wild rice casserole with cremini mushrooms has a rich, earthy quality without a lot of added fat. You can also pack it with veggies like carrots, celery, and leeks for additional nutrients. Add slivered almonds for additional texture and crunch.
13. Cheesy Sausage, Broccoli, and Quinoa Casserole
A cheesy broccoli and rice casserole is full of comforting flavors. You can lighten it up by switching out white rice for more nutritional quinoa.
You can also add chicken sausage to round out this classic casserole and pack it full of flavor.
14. Homemade Pizzas
You can always offer to order pizzas for a friend while they recover. But if you can cook, take it a step further and prepare delicious homemade pizza.
You can make the dough from scratch or from a premade mix like this, then load it up with hearty and flavorful veggies, or keep it simple by making a white pizza with diced chicken. Frozen homemade pizzas reheat really well and they’re better than anything you’ll get from a lot of delivery joints.
15. Sausage and Vegetable Calzones
Your friend or loved one might have to go through physical rehabilitation. For those occasions, a handheld meal is great.
Miniature sausage and vegetable calzones are perfect for a patient on the go. Start off with some pizza dough, then add fresh herbs and vegetables, turkey sausage, and more to make it light and filling. Small handheld calzones make a tasty portable meal.
Simple Meals to Prepare for Someone as They Recover from Surgery
If your friend or loved one is recovering from major surgery, you can help more than you might think. Cooking and cleaning can exhaust a person who’s healing.
Cook up some delicious go-to favorites to help your loved one on his or her healing journey.