What to serve at a funeral reception can vary according to a family’s preferences, where one lives, and the cultural or family traditions that come to mind. For example, families in the American South enjoy casseroles while those in the northeast may want Italian fare like spaghetti and meatballs. 

It’s a little harsh on the ears but as you probably already know, but the funeral is not about you. No obligations exist, in terms of you having to bring food. The purpose of bringing food to a funeral home reception is to ensure the family doesn’t have to worry about what to eat, entertaining, or anything of the sort.

Knowing this, your funeral food ideas shouldn’t outshine or be an extravaganza! Often, something simple and plentiful is more than enough. Here are seven general funeral food ideas to keep in mind, regardless of what dish you’re assembling.

1. Soups

You want to bring something that’s affordable so that it doesn’t look like you overspent. Foods that comfort are best, as well as those that are easy to prepare, easy to reheat, and easy to eat. Comfort foods like soups are one of the best funeral food ideas that you can prepare.

The purpose of bringing food to a funeral reception is to ensure the family doesn’t have to worry about what to eat, entertaining guests, or anything like this. You’ll want to verify simple details, including where the funeral reception will be and how many people will attend.

2. Classy Buffets

For some funerals and especially if there’s a large number of people in attendance, a meal buffet’s a more common option than finger foods. Traditional buffets like this can be more affordable to arrange and easy to prepare. They can also provide the family plenty of food left, in most cases.

Another option to the ‘buffet’ is a make-your-own sandwich or sub-station. Purchasing cheeses and meats in bulk saves time on preparation, and creates a simple eat option. Just remember to keep the funeral food ideas classy.

3. Casseroles & Pastas

Does it reheat well? If so, it’s a dish to consider for a funeral. Pasta dishes and casseroles are so popular for this exact reason. They can also be frozen, if a family chooses to take them for left-overs. Potatoes are always a hit at these functions as well, for this exact reason. If you have a family recipe or something unique along the lines of a potato casserole, this may be the right funeral food to bring.

For casseroles, keep in mind that you might not get the plate or container back. Some families may keep them for some time. After losing a loved one, no one wants to be pestered by people asking for their kitchen plates back so whatever you’ve decided to serve, if you’re bringing, be sure to leave it on a plate or in a container you’re not necessarily attached to seeing returned.

4. Cookies & Brownies

The topic of dessert at funerals is somewhat controversial. It’s not a time to celebrate which desserts can come off as. Some will say it’s best to avoid them. Others very much enjoy the sweetest desserts. It’s ultimately up to you to bring something along the lines of cookies or brownies.

If in doubt, consult the family or someone you trust. If you bring in a cake, remember you may also have to bring in some plates and cutlery to enjoy. Make it easy for people to consume, whatever you bring.

5. Funeral Catering

If you’re organizing a funeral, you may choose to have it catered. This trend is rising. It’s an acceptable way to simplify the funeral food process. An experienced caterer with these events can also advise on what’s appropriate, how much to buy, and arrange the logistics.

Just keep in mind you don’t want to overextend yourself financially for the occasion nor physically. If you believe catering’s the best way for you to feel alright in attendance, there’s nothing wrong with that.

6. Tray of fruit or vegetables

This suggestion is also one that is not always agreed upon but some may see it as an option. It doesn’t hurt to bring some cut up finger food-style veggies or fruits on a tray. On a table of casseroles, pastas, and potatoes, having some vegetables and dip there can be helpful especially to those who are vegan, vegetarian, or who may want to partake.

Your funeral food ideas may not get the same attention other dishes get, but it can be helpful in adding some balance to what’s available.

7. Simple Beverages

It’s a sombre occasion so you don’t want to be bringing by fruit smoothies or similar colorful, celebratory drinks. Any beverages should be relatively straightforward, like coffee, iced tea, lemonade, or similarly simple drinks.

The last tip we want to offer for funeral food ideas is to not go crazy with cooking up a foreign recipe or something you’re not comfortable putting together. Give them something that tastes excellent and that’ll be a comfort. Show love and support with something you know – without question – how to cook.