Teen Looks For Meals To Help His Parents Suffering With Depression And The Internet Delivers
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Redditor legaladvicethrowaway9 hit up his fellow Redditors and asked: "What foods can a teenager cook for his parents to help their depression?" a question which kicked off one of the most wholesome community responses on the internet.

"Literally anything."

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.


"It's different for everyone..."

Something they consider comfort food. It's different for everyone, but start with the classics. Chicken pot pie for instance.


"But I would also be a little bit worried..."

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.)


"I wish I had an answer for you..."

This post breaks my heart. I wish I had an answer for you, but the truth is we can't fix someone else's depression at any age.

Good on you for trying (that's what humans do). But if it doesn't work, don't blame your chicken soup. Depression is a bear.


"Do you have a crock pot?"

Do you have a crock pot? Slow cooker recipes are really easy to make, and they can eat as much or little as they want. Some of my favorites are chicken tacos, chicken and biscuits, and chicken tortilla soup.

Chicken tacos are very simple. Buy your favorite salsa (mine is Newman's Own medium, for this particular recipe). Add salsa, taco seasoning (packet or make your own), chopped cilantro, and 1 lb boneles, skinless chicken breast. If you want it spicy, add jalapenos and/or cayenne pepper. Cook on high for 4 hours. After 4 hours, shred the chicken (you can use 2 forks to do this) and mix it all together. Put it in taco shells with some cheese and avocado and it's delicious!


"If they ever told you..."


If they ever told you about something their parents made for them. They would definitely appreciate you taking a stab at a family recipe.


"I'm gonna guess..."

I'm gonna guess you're not usually the one cooking? Honestly a nice slow cooker meal will help the house smell great! Also very easy prep if you're unfamiliar with cooking. I'd suggest something like pot roast: get a cheap roast (chuck is always tasty), potatoes, carrots, beef broth and throw them in the slow cooker. Super easy! You can always add more/different ingredients like mushrooms, onions, rosemary, etc if you want to get fancier


Greens, healthy fats and some lean meat. The link between gut flora and mental health is real.


"Depression is a hard thing."

Depression is a hard thing. I have had it in the past and it can be a struggle just to get out of bed in the morning. The fact you want to help and be there is strong. It is not easy to help provide for people in the first place let alone the change in power dynamic that depression can cause. It isn't what you make that matters. It is that you are willing to help them in anyway you can. Just be there to talk if they want to talk or just hang out with them and BS about the weather or about what the dog did today.

Your presence matter that most. You being able to go I want to help you because I care about you THAT is what matters. Make them anything and sit down and eat it with them because being there matters more than anything else. It might be weird at first but as time goes on it will become easier. Showing someone with depression that you consistently care is one of the strongest things you can do to help with the maintenance of depression. Best of luck and you can do this! If this is about you and you need someone to talk to about this PM me!


"With love..."

With love, it's not your job to care for your parents. Your job is to be a kid and have a childhood. Part of being a parent is taking good enough care of yourself so you can be an effective parent. Do you have enough support yourself? Do you have a family member/family friend/someone that is aware that you are parenting your parents? Source - am a mother myself and had a mother with more than a few mental health issues.

Check out https://www.reddit.com/r/MomForAMinute/

Here are some easy recipes for you to have a look at, to round them out chuck in a side of garlic bread and a bag of salad (Taylor Farms do excellent bags o' salad with the crunchy toppings and dressing so it's dead easy and there's zero chopping). These are in regular rotation at our house and are easy and inexpensive to make.

  1. One pot mac n cheese - https://www.budgetbytes.com/miracle-mac-n-cheese/
  2. Carrot and coriander soup
    Take 500g of carrots and boil them. If you have a potato, you could chuck that in to boil as well. Fish the carrots out of the hot water and shove them in to the blender. Blitz until smooth, adding some of the water you used to boil the carrots if needed. Meanwhile, chop around 150g of cream cheese into cube and chuck in a mug. Add enough hot carrot cooking water to make the cheese soften and encourage this process with a fork. Chuck softened cheese and carrot water mixture in to blender and blitz. If you're feeling fancy chuck some garlic in to the mix. Chop up some fresh coriander and chuck in the blender and blitz - alternatively, a couple of pinches of dried coriander from a packet is grand. Optional - crispy bacon on top/ bacon sandwiches on the side. Nom nom nom.
  3. Fishcakes - you can sub out the maltzo meal for bog standard breadcrumbs and the salmon for tuna. They are a bit fiddly but yummy and they freeze well. https://www.nigella.com/recipes/salmon-fishcakes
  4. Creamy mushroom herb pasta - this is delicious https://www.budgetbytes.com/creamy-mushroom-herb-pasta/


"I hope this helps you..."

Fruit salad for breakfast, with yogurt and granola (I like grape nuts, personally, but whatever you/they like). Tea and lots of water. Maybe eggs if you're feeling up to it.

Lunch: sandwiches on wheat/multigrain bread - make sure to have veggies on there, lettuce and tomato for a traditional sandwich, but you can get creative here depending on your skill level, lots of water.

Dinner: a salad kit with the dressing inside makes a pre-dinner salad easy. I like to make Rice a Roni and throw in some chopped up spinach and roasted red peppers with some Italian sausage, but you can put literally anything in there. Load up on the veggies and pick you favorite protein (chicken/ground beef/sausage). SO easy and takes me less than 20 mins to make.

You got this. Keep it easy. For me and my depression, having a ritual (same breakfast every morning) was so helpful and became important, because it felt like I had something I could rely on.

I hope this helps you - both these comments as well as the ability to do this, and the ritual of it. Just don't put too much pressure on yourself. Keep it easy.


"I had psychotic depression."


I had psychotic depression. The idea is to boost your serotonin and dopamine production. You want protein which boosts the production of both dopamine and serotonin. This means meats, fish, eggs, dairy, nuts, etc. The amino acids found in meats cannot be produced anywhere. You have to eat it to get it. I know I didn't offer any specific meals for depression but just looking at the ingredients offers a world of possibilities. All you have to do is make a dish with protein as the star of the show.


"Like a lot of other people said..."

Like a lot of other people said, they'd love anything. Get a box of Kraft Mac and Cheese and I bet they'd be happy with you!

I'll give some easy bare-bones ideas though if you wanna actually take time to cook. I recommend looking up actual recipes though if you wanna try these, because I don't wanna make a visually overwhelming post with super intricate instructions haha

Chicken Parmesan Boil a big pot of water. Bread and fry chicken breasts with Italian bread crumbs (I buy mine from target) in a separate on, pour your chosen spaghetti or marinara sauce on the bottom of a casserole dish, put the fried chicken breasts in it, top with a bit more sauce and sprinkle lots of mozzarella and/or Parmesan cheese. I like using mozz more. As that's baking, you should cook some spaghetti noodles. Drain the noodles and after the chicken is done, you serve the noodles, spoon out some of the sauce from the dish on top of the noodles, and top with the super crispy chicken breast that has all this melty cheese on top. It's super good and very easy if you're new to cooking!!

Beef Stew If you have a crockpot, this is even easier than the last. Go out and buy some beef stew tips (should be by the other packaged meat), carrots, red potatoes, and other veggies you like. Onions maybe! I don't like mine with onions lol. Campbell's makes pre-made beef stew sauce in packets like this and it literally has the instructions on this packet. It's really easy. Throw the beef in, top that with the veggies, and then pour this on top. 4h on high or 8h on slow :)

Potato Soup A vegetarian option if you or your family does not like meat, but this dish is super customizable where you can add in pretty much anything you want. Bacon, carrots, celery, onions, cheddar cheese, whatever you'd like. For the sake of being quick though I'll just explain with only potatoes.

Peel, dice to bite size chucks, and boil 5-7 golden potatoes. Put the potatoes in the water before you boil though so they can start to cook as the water temp gets hotter. Once the potatoes feel soft enough by poking with a fork (or even eating a bite), drain half of the water and add in your choice of milk. I grew up with regular 2% but my boyfriend is vegan so we use unsweetened almond milk. Add in instant mashed potato flakes slowly. I know this sounds bad but it makes the broth/soup part thicker and tastes better.

Just add in a bit and stir it, add in a bit more, and stir it until you're happy with the consistency so you don't end up with...well...mashed potatoes lol. I add in butter (again, your choice) and season with whatever I'm feeling that day. Usually salt and pepper, onion powder, celery salt, white pepper, and chives. My bf adds red pepper flakes and his vegan sour cream.

These should all be pretty easy! Otherwise, dude, just go out and get a rotisserie chicken and some Bob Evans mashed potatoes hahaha. They'll love the hell out of you. I think your parents raised you well and if I had a kid like you, I'd feel so so happy that they turned out so amazing and caring



Chicken noodle soup! You can buy chicken stock, egg noodles, a rotisserie chicken, and some frozen veggies, throw it all together in a big pot on medium high heat and let the noodles cook through. It turns into very comforting "homemade" soup and saves very easily in the fridge or freezer for leftovers.


"Common sense treatment aside..."

Common sense treatment aside (ie seeing a doctor), just pretty much avoid junk food. There might also be a benefit in trying either adding or cutting out certain foods to see if they're problematic or beneficial. Each body is different and will tolerate some foods better than others. Figuring that out for me helped with my depression.

Any changes you'll want to give at least a couple of weeks, so just be patient. Make sure the nutritional benefits are balanced out somewhere else too (ex. Dairy = calcium + vitamin D; research alternatives for those things)

Also, I'm sorry for the situation that led to this question. You're clearly doing your best. Please take care of yourself too.


"Lasagnas and pasta with meatballs..."

Lasagnas and pasta with meatballs or sliced sausage are simple recipes with great results. The resulting dish looks like you spent double the time and effort, it's filling, and toss a salad and a loaf of Italian bread in and it looks like a restaurant meal.


"Anything would be amazing..."

Anything would be amazing, I'm sure. Just, do the dishes when you're done lol.

I'm a mom and I suffer from depression, if my boys were old enough, and asked how they could help, I'd just say "do the dishes". Honestly a full sink or dirty kitchen is such a terrible thing to come home to, or wake up to. It literally defeats me. Yet it's so simple. But it's not.

You're awesome for just recognizing that she suffers, and amazing for wanting to help.


"Your parents..."

Your parents have done an excellent job for you to even ask this question!

As for my answer, its already been said; but stick to the classics and keep your meals filled with veggies and food with nutrients just for that little boost. Your effort alone will kick it out of the park and even if the first couple meals dont go well, you'll know how to improve time and time again.


"As a chef..."

As a chef, I can whole heartedly say that whatever it is, as long as you put effort and care into it, it should that your trying to help, not just dinner meals, something simple like a Roulade or lemon tarts as snacks between meals just makes people feel better because it proves your thinking of them and making things for them.