Losing a loved one is already an emotionally draining experience, and with all the organization and administrative things that need to be done afterward, food for the funeral reception is most likely the last thing on your mind. However, it’s an important element, as nothing brings the friends and loved ones of the deceased together more than reliving the happy memories they made with them over some warm and cozy food.
Food brings comfort, and in the time of mourning, that’s what many people need. So, here are some funeral food ideas you might want to consider preparing for a funeral reception.
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Funeral Food Ideas – What to Consider
Before we move on to specific funeral catering ideas, there are a few things you should keep in mind when choosing what to serve, including:
- How many people will you have to prepare food for? Are there any guests that have dietary restrictions that need to be catered for?
- What is your budget?
- Where will the funeral reception take place?
- Are you planning on preparing the food yourself, organizing a potluck, or delegating the task to someone else (e.g., a catering service)?
- What will the day look like? How much time there will be for eating can help you decide what type of food will be the best to serve.
After you answer these questions, you will have a better idea of what will work best for the funeral reception you’re organizing.
So, now that we have this out of the way, here are some funeral food ideas.
A Selection of Finger Foods
The food you serve doesn’t have to be an elaborate three-course meal. A selection of different foods will be more than enough. The funeral celebrants will be able to mingle with each other rather than have a specific group of people surrounding them as they would at a table.
Some common ideas for funeral finger foods include:
- Charcuterie boards – A classic charcuterie board is made of a variety of curated meats, vegetables, cheeses, crackers or baguette slices, and condiments. You can also add a twist to it by preparing a sweet charcuterie board rather than a savory one, with a variety of fresh fruits and dips, cookies, cupcakes, candies, marshmallows, and more.
- Fruit and vegetable platters – Cut up fresh fruits like kiwis, watermelons, pineapple, strawberries, etc. You can also opt for vegetables like celery and carrots and add a few varieties of hummus to dip them in.
- Sandwiches – They are quick and easy to make, and since there are many things you can use as filling, they will be great for accommodating the dietary restrictions of the attendees, as well as their vegetarian or vegan diet.
- Appetizers – Preparing a selection of appetizers, such as bacon-wrapped dates with goat cheese or cheesy pull-apart bread gives your guests a variety to choose from.
Easy to make and favored by many, casseroles are a great dish to have at a funeral reception – and since they can be frozen and reheated, they also make good leftovers for the family of the deceased that might not have the energy to prepare food during the time of mourning.
A good choice would be “funeral potatoes” – the name isn’t a coincidence, as it is often served as a dish at the after-funeral receptions, especially in the culture of the Mormon Church. Other widely-liked casserole types include:
- Chicken casserole
- Turkey casserole
- Meatball casserole
- Spaghetti casserole
- Green bean casserole
- Shepherd’s Pie
For a more substantial meal, afternoon tea might be exactly what you’re looking for. Provide the funeral attendees with a number of tea options (e.g., black, green, herbal, fruit, etc.) and coffee, along with sugar and cream. As for the food to serve with it, you can go for a more savory selection, with mini sandwiches or mini wraps or a sweet one with a variety of cakes, scones, and cupcakes.
The Bottom Line
Organizing a funeral can be emotionally exhausting when you have just lost a loved one, but it’s one of those things that cannot not be done – and one of the aspects of it is food. Serving the right food can make the attendees more open, encouraging them to talk with others about the loved one they just lost – celebrating the life they lived rather than just mourning the loss of it.
We only mentioned a few options, but the truth is that most foods would be more than fine for the occasion. You can also consider preparing all of the favorite dishes of the person who passed away – while they might not be with you physically, tasting the things they loved will make you feel like they’re there.