If you have a friend or family member who has recently had a joint replacement surgery and you are wondering how you can help... delivering a healthy and nourishing meal is a great way to lift their spirits, reduce their stress, and be a great help to someone following their surgery.
The best meals to bring friends after elective joint replacement surgery need to be:
- easy to heat up (ie. not too heavy or cumbersome of a dish)
- easy to serve- considering if they will need use of both arms to cut the dish
- consider dietary needs or restrictions
- if someone had a shoulder surgery- consider meals you can eat with one hand
- nourishing & delicious
Allergies or dietary needs to ask ahead of preparing a meal:
- vegetarian or vegan
- shellfish or other allergies
Precautions following joint replacements that can make cooking difficult:
If your friend had a hip or knee replacement they will initially be using a walker to manage moving around their house.
This can make it difficult to carry dishes around and safely move around a kitchen. Delivering a dinner or easy lunch items will take such a burden off of your friend and allow them to recover.
* bonus tip: if you bring single use plates or utensils or offer to pick up dirty dishes then your friend won't need to fuss with cleaning dishes
If they are recovering from a shoulder surgery, there will be a period of time that they can not use both arms making it difficult to cut foods. I would stay away from delivering lasagnas, steaks, pork chops, or anything that requires stability of both arms to cut.
Without the use of both arms, most people have a limit of how much weight they can lift following shoulder surgery.
Rather than delivering a large baking dish that requires reheating, consider packing individually portioned meals that would be light weight and easier to reheat with the use of one arm.
If your friend is dairy-free:
Gluten and Dairy Free Pasta Salad by Amber Cobbs
- 1 box gluten-free pasta
- 1 diced orange bell pepper
- 1 medium white onion
- ½ bag broccoli slaw
- ½ cup halved cherry tomatoes
- 1 medium cucumber, chopped
- ¼ cup pistachios
- ½ cup feta crumbles
- 1 cup cooked bacon, chopped
- 3 tbsp mayonnaise
- ½ tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 2 tsp Every day seasoning from Trader Joe's
- Cook pasta according to instructions, strain, and set aside in an ice bath
- In a small bowl, mix together dressing ingredients.
- Remove pasta from ice bath and strain, then pour into large bowl.
- Chop vegetables and bacon and add to strained pasta.
- Stir in dressing, add salt and pepper, and refrigerate for 2 hours before serving.
If your friend is gluten-free:
Try a Greek Quinoa Bowl , a healthy BBQ chicken casserole, or a Spaghetti Squash Lamb Bolognese by Alden from What Alden Ate.
Lamb Bolognese over Spaghetti Squash by Alden
- 1 lb ground lamb or ground turkey
- 2 shallots, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 ½ cups mushrooms, chopped
- 1 can crushed tomatoes
- 3 tbsp tomato paste
- 2 tsp dried italian seasoning
- 1 handful fresh basil
- Heat a skillet over medium heat and add ground lamb, cooking until browned.
- While lamb cooks, chop shallot, mushroom, and garlic- then add to skillet with salt and pepper.
- Once lamb is cooked, add crushed tomatoes and tomato paste.
- Add basil and Italian seasoning and mix together.
- One bubbling, reduce the heat and allow to simmer for 10-15 minutes.
- Top with fresh basil and parmesan cheese (optional!) to serve.
If your friend is vegetarian or vegan:
A favorite vegetarian dish is this Soy Chorizo Spaghetti Squash, consider supporting a local pizza place, or try a nourishing cream of broccoli soup.
Shoulder Specific Joint Replacement:
If you or your friend is planning a shoulder replacement I highly recommend keeping easy lunch items on hand in the fridge.
Some favorite choices are cooked tortellini, tuna or chicken salad with crackers to dip in, or turkey and cheese roll-ups.
These are all easy and quick lunch that can be eaten cold.
- Pre-cut fruit
- Vegetables or pita chips & hummus
- Hard boiled eggs (peeled if shoulder replacement)
- Tortilla chips with guacamole & salsa
Drinks: Stick with hydrating and low sugar beverages
- Water bottles
- Coconut water (Ask first on this, people either love it or hate it)
- Sparkling water
- Iced tea
- A healthy & crunchy Brownie Brittle Recipe
- This Pumpkin Pie Dip (Dairy-free) that is great served with apple slices or graham crackers
- Healthy Double Chocolate Chunk Cookies by Liz Moody
I hope this list is helpful for you to find the best meal to bring a friend after surgery.
As a certified occupational therapy assistant, one of my favorite activities to work on with patients is learning to navigate their kitchen before going home.
Maintaining balance with a walker while cooking or trying to navigate a kitchen with one arm can be a difficult adjustment following a surgery and delivering a meal can be one of the best gifts you can offer a friend.