If there were a sixth love language, I’m pretty sure it would be food.
I mean, sure, you could file “meals” under Acts of Service or Receiving Gifts. But serving food to others (and consuming it) so deeply nourishes not just our bodies, but our souls, that it truly deserves its own category.
Your grandma makes your favorite dish when you visit because it reminds you of home. We serve food to the hungry because it’s a basic need. We tote covered foil pans to friends who just had a baby or lost a loved one because they need support while caring for others.
We make our kids’ favorite foods because… oh, right, because we want to peacefully enjoy the real meal we prepared for ourselves (reluctantly guilty).
And we share recipes to spread the joy we find in a special dish.
Making food for others is my “giving” love language because it feels like I’m doing something in situations where I feel helpless otherwise.
Preparing food is also a way I can serve during this season of staying home with two little ones, bound to their needs and schedules.
Here are some of my favorite recipes to love on new parents or friends walking through a difficult season. Each of these can be made a day in advance, and makes enough for leftovers or doubles as a meal for your own family.
Side note: In case your friends eat gluten-free like me, the first two are inherently GF and the remainder can be made with GF pasta. Be sure to ask about allergies and food aversions before dropping off a meal.
Chicken Enchiladas (Shauna Niequist). Instead of rolling a dozen enchiladas, this is easy-peasy with a layered, lasagna-esque structure and always a hit.
Classic Stuffed Peppers (Delish). Simple and satisfying, this dish provides six individual servings full of the major food groups: meat, cheese, rice and vegetables.
Baked Ziti with Summer Vegetables (Cooking Light). This casserole oozes with comfort and joy of pasta and cheese balanced by five cups of vegetables. I add a half-pound of ground turkey and a can of tomato sauce for a heartier and, well, saucier dish.
Perfect Spaghetti and Meatballs (Smitten Kitchen). Several variations in this recipe allow you to customize it to your taste. The meatballs soaking in a simple homemade sauce are just divine.
Chicken Spinach Salad (Taste of Home). The only one on the list that’s served cold, this dish bursts with fresh flavors: mandarins, grapes, cucumber, spinach, chicken, snow peas, celery, and artichokes with a sweet dressing.
Easy additions are fresh or frozen bread, a bagged specialty salad, kid snacks, and a pan of cookies or brownies. Put everything in foil or reusable containers you don’t need returned, and write any baking instructions directly onto the top foil with a sharpie.
Loving others with the language of food shows that you see what they’re going through and you’re here for them. Even when you can’t fix their stress or grief or exhaustion, you can fix them a meal.