The Best Meal Train Ideas

These are the best Meal Train ideas to bring to someone going through a major life event to show your support. From classic casseroles to hearty breakfasts to sweet treats, there's a dish here everyone will love.

This quick Chicken Broccoli Orzo Casserole is the perfect weeknight dinner solution that you can throw together in a hurry. It has everything you need in it: orzo pasta, broccoli, feta cheese and chicken. It's made with cream of celery soup, broth and spices to bring everything together in 30 minutes!
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Meal Train Recipes

No matter what someone is going through, bringing a meal to that person can be so meaningful.

Whether it's a person who had a baby, underwent surgery, is dealing with a medical issue, has experienced a loss or is going through a transitional time (like a move or career change), bringing them a meal during tough times can be so powerful and helpful.

Taking the meal planning off their plate and putting food onto it is a big relief, no matter what they are going through.

A meal train is a great way to support them during a difficult time. There are so many options for meals that you can bring to someone!

Breakfast items like muffins and casseroles, main courses like casseroles and soup, side dishes, snacks and desserts are all great things to bring to someone in need — and we've rounded up over

Want to organize lots of meals for someone? Here's how to organize an excellent meal train they'll remember.

Close-up photo of baked apple zucchini bread with cream cheese glaze in an oval serving dish. The loaf has two slices cut from it.

What Is a Meal Train?

If you've never heard of a meal train, it is a community-driven effort to provide meals for a family or individual in need, such as after the birth of a new baby, during an illness or recovery period, or any other major life event.

The meal train typically consists of a schedule with different people signing up to provide a meal on specific days.

The most common way to organize a meal train is through online platforms like mealtrain. Feel free to keep it old school and jot down people's information on pen and paper if that's your speed.

When to Bring Food to Someone

There are so many reasons you could bring a warm meal to a friend, coworker, neighbor or family member. They — and their whole family — will be so appreciative.

Here are some major life events that might be a good reason to send a meal:

  • new family member: just had a baby, adopted a child or welcomed an exchange student
  • medical: recent surgery, sickness, tough diagnosis or any ongoing medical issue
  • grief: experienced the loss of a family member or friend, death of a pet, miscarriage
  • transitional time: moving (friends or a new neighbor), career change, deployment or job loss
  • mental health: going through a difficult time emotionally
  • just because: If you love someone, do you need a reason?
closeup of the texture on blueberry muffins with streusel topping

Best Meal Train Ideas

The recipes below are my favorite dishes to bring to someone. When friends ask me what they should make for someone in need, I always send them these Meal Train ideas:

Best Meal Train Ideas

When organizing or bringing meals to a friend as part of a meal train, these few dishes are simple and nutritious. Some are even a lovely, sweet treat.

We couldn't stop there. Here are even more ideas to bring to your next meal train, broken up by type of dish:

Breakfast Ideas

Breakfast is a great meal to bring. Many people think "dinner" when it comes to bringing meals, but breakfast is just as welcome. It's often an afterthought for someone who is going through something big.

  • Coffee Cake Muffins with Coffee Glaze
  • Cranberry Orange Muffins
  • Simple Fruit Salad
  • Bacon Breakfast Scramble Bowls 
  • Mashed Potato Chorizo Breakfast Tacos 
  • Egg Muffins with Sausage and Kale
  • Gluten-Free Pumpkin Snickerdoodle Donuts
  • Bakery Style Raspberry White Chocolate Muffins 
  • Apple Cinnamon Granola 
  • Ham and Cheese Quiche 

Easy breakfast ideas: Bring over beans/grounds and creamer for their mornings or pick up an order of coffee drinks and pastries from their favorite coffee shop one morning. A Starbucks gift card works if you're far away.

Add this?Strawberry Vinaigrette Spinach Salad to your regular diner rotation! This salad has a spinach base, topped with walnuts, goat cheese, fresh strawberries, diced apples and finally tossed in a homemade strawberry vinaigrette dressing. The dressing is a perfect balance of sweet and tangy. This salad is perfect for any time of year, but especially satisfying for summer and fall!

Lunch Ideas

Like breakfast, lunch is also an afterthought. Here are some great lunch ideas for anyone going through something:

  • Grilled Turkey Burgers (with a side of Grilled Zucchini and Squash)
  • Spinach Turkey Orzo
  • Turkey Quinoa Stuffed Bell Peppers
  • Ground Turkey Sweet Potato Skillet
  • Strawberry Vinaigrette Spinach Salad
  • Spinach Salad with Mandarin Oranges and Berries
  • Chicken Broccoli Orzo Casserole
  • Broccoli Cheese Quiche 
  • Vegan White Bean Soup 
  • Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup 

Easy lunch ideas: Bring over a pre-bagged salad kit or offer to pick up lunch from their favorite spot. You could also send them a Grubhub or Doordash gift card for a lunch treat.

A white platter with chicken piccata and angel hair pasta with a blue and white napkin.

Meal Train Dinners

Dinners are a popular meal train choice to bring, because no one wants to spend time over the stove when they're going through something tough. (Even happy things can be tough.)

  • Easy Ground Turkey Stir Fry
  • Sweet Potato Turkey Burgers
  • One-Pan Chicken Piccata
  • Baked Chicken Meatballs 
  • Italian Wedding Soup
  • Grilled Chicken Fajitas
  • Pan-Seared Peach Balsamic Chicken
  • Slow Cooker Pulled Pork 
  • Shrimp Stir Fry Freezer Meal 
  • Chili Pot Pie With Cheddar Drop Biscuits 
  • Ham and Potato Soup 
  • Cheesy Zucchini Ribbon Lasagna 

Easy dinner ideas: Pick up the fixings for tacos or burgers, even if it's a box of frozen burgers or chicken that they can heat up. Don't forget to grab a bag of lettuce, cheese, salsa and sour cream. Or Venmo them some cash to grab takeout from their favorite spot.

Overhead shot of roasted green beans in a baking dish seasoned with oil, salt, and pepper. A blue and white striped cloth accents the top right corner of the photo.

Side Dish Ideas

It's always a nice idea to include some side dishes with your main dish. Here are some of our favorite ideas:

  • Oven Roasted Green Beans
  • Easy Oven Roasted Broccoli
  • Roasted Rosemary Potatoes
  • Easy Cheesy Potatoes
  • Easy Pasta Salad without Mayo
  • Goat Cheese Rosemary Drop Biscuits
  • Bacon Potato Salad Without Mayo
  • Slow Cooker Bacon Jalapeño Creamed Corn
  • Crispy Sheet Pan Potatoes
  • Balsamic Vinegar Sweet Potato Kale Sauté
  • Honey Roasted Whole Carrots 
  • Gluten Free Buttermilk Cornbread 
  • Oatmeal Dinner Rolls 

Easy side dish ideas: Many grocery stores pre-package side dishes like mashed potatoes and veggies, so pick up a few for them to enjoy alongside a rotisserie chicken.

Chewy cinnamon cookies with cinnamon sugar on top arranged in a stack.

Desserts & Snacks

Something sweet to snack on or to enjoy after a meal is an excellent way to show your love and give them a boost of comfort. Here are some of our favorite recipes for treats to make:

  1. No Bake Buckeye Bars
  2. Cinnamon Cookies
  3. Mini Lemon Cheesecake Bites
  4. Coconut Lime Cookies
  5. Cereal Bars 
  6. Chocolate Chip Pudding Cookies
  7. Mini Apple Spice Rum Cakes
  8. Pumpkin Snickerdoodles
  9. Cheerio Bars
  10. Strawberry Vanilla Cupcakes
  11. Chocolate Covered Strawberry Brownies
  12. Peanut Butter Protein Balls 
  13. Walnut Coconut Hemp Seed Bites 

Easy dessert ideas: Whip up a box of brownie mix or grab some treats from a local bakery. You could also send them a cookie delivery from Crumbl or Insomnia Cookies.

Easy snack ideas: Put together a box of assorted munchies, like popcorn, nuts, chips or cookies. Boxes of granola bars or protein bars are also super helpful for busy families with a lot going on.

Looking for an easy breakfast to make for a crowd or to prep for the week ahead? This spinach veggie egg casserole is packed with veggies and can be customized to include meat or be vegetarian! This is the kitchen sink of breakfast casseroles that can be customized to use up those veggies in your fridge! Get ready for a delicious, filling breakfast for the whole family to enjoy.

Meal Packaging Tips

There are a few other tips you'll want to follow when packaging your meal:

  • Reheating Instructions: Let the recipient know the best way to reheat your meal. Whether that's in the oven at a certain temperature for a set amount of time or even in the microwave.
  • Label Containers: Write the dish's name and the date it was prepared. This will help the recipient keep track of what meals they have and how long they've been stored.
  • Freezer-friendly containers: Thanks to this meal train, your friend will receive a lot of food. They'll need to freeze some of it to keep it fresh. So make sure your containers are freezer-friendly!
  • Portion the meals: Portion the meals into individual servings to make it easier for the recipient to reheat and eat. This also helps to ensure there's enough food for everyone in the family.

Let me know in the comments your favorite dishes to give and receive during tough times!

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  1. Pingback: You?ll Need These 7 Moving Essentials On Move-In Day - Life Storage Blog
  2. Thanks for including my Ham and Cheese Quiche! This is such a great list of recipes, pinned it to reference later!

    1. Thanks Sharon! Your ham and cheese quiche looks delicious, I can't wait to make it!