We asked our regular contributors through e-mail What foods can a teenager cook for his parents to help their depression? We got many interesting responses. Here are some of them. We have just copied and pasted their responses, not editing them in any way.
1. Think of the favorite meal your Mother made for you and make them that. Tell her why it’s so special. I’m really sorry you’re going through this, my own Mum suffers from bouts of depression too and it’s very hard 🙁 I talk to her about special memories from my childhood and it seems to help.
2. Literally anything. Depression can be so draining that it’s exhausting to do daily activities, like cooking dinner. Just simply supporting them in the way you are is bound to help. You sound like a great kid – I hope you’re well and that your parents start feeling like themselves soon.
3. Ok, so, I’m a parent and I struggle with depression and mental health problems, and honestly, I think even if I just knew my kid had asked this question and was trying to think about how to take care of me, it would mean the world to me. (Well, at the moment he’s only 13 months old so I would also be pretty astonished, but you know what I mean.)
But I would also be a little bit worried, and I would want my kid to know that it’s not their job to fix, or even help, my mental illness. And I’d want to make sure that they were okay, and not taking on too many responsibilities that they weren’t really old enough to cope with. So, since you already have a bunch of good suggestions and recipes in this thread, I’m going to just suggest that you make sure you’re looking after yourself as well as your parents and that you ask for help if you need it. Good luck with everything.
(Also, pasta. It’s easy, it’s good comfort food, most people like it, and you can vary the sauce/sides to include protein and veg.)
4. I’m sure they would appreciate anything you cook them as long as you put time and effort into it 🙂
5. Something they consider comfort food. It’s different for everyone but start with the classics. Chicken pot pie for instance.
6. Someone else can chime in on whether this pasta dish can help with depression, but here’s my “adulting” recipe for three bowl pasta (three bowls because you will go back for seconds, and thirds; adulting because I made it up right after college).
1 box of Pasta: go with a thicker pasta, like ziti or rigatoni, cook it to the boxes instructions, but save some of the water. People say it should be like sea water, but those people have no idea how much salt is in seawater (it’s around 1 cup of salt per gallon of water for seawater). Don’t go that hard, but way more than a pinch.
Onion soup mix.
Green pepper and red pepper.
Here’s the instructions: Start the pasta water. Chop up the peppers, cut them into long strips. Heat a pan to a bit past medium. When hot, pour in a tablespoon or so of olive oil, then the peppers. Stir them around occasionally to cook them. At some point, your pasta water is boiling (and you have added a lot of salt!) and you can cook the pasta to the box instructions. Keep at the peppers, when they are less firm, throw in a clove of garlic (minced, I buy the pre-minced kind because I’m lazy). Whenever you’re happy with the peppers, turn them off and remove from heat. When the pasta is done, get at least 2 cups of the water out, and then strain.
In a big bowl, pour in about 1/4 cup of your pasta water and stir in the onion soup mix (one packet). Then pour in the pasta and the peppers. This is going to be a thick sauce, probably too thick, so add more of the pasta water until you think it’s right. When it’s to your liking, plate it up, and allow your guests to add as much cheese as they like.
It all takes about 20 minutes to make and is really simple. You can add butter or whatever if you want it creamy. Throw in some green onions if you feel like.
You can also use onion/mushroom soup mix. That’s a bit different, but you do you.
7. Warm and healthy, lots of vegetables. Doing more chores around the house could also be a generous way of showing support, I do as much as I can at home to help my mom’s stress.
8. Lasagne. It’s an actual science fact that no one can remain sad while eating lasagne.
9. Anything with potassium. Black beans are a great source of it (bananas really don’t have that much) a B12 supplement and a multivitamin. Food won’t solve depression but having the building blocks and the energy to work on yourself will go a long way. Plus the daily morning activity of taking your vitamins can be a tool to put yourself in a self-care mindset.
10. Old nostalgic homemade recipes would be a good bet. Any way of getting to know their old favorites?