Making Someone’s Day and Dinner

When I had my two little ones, or even in times of stress, I’ve been very blessed to be surrounded by amazing family, friends and fellow church members who were thoughtful and helpful and volunteered to bring my family some meals. Growing up, I know our family always got meals when there was a new baby or if there was unemployment, illness or other stressful situations. Sometimes a good meal can help everything feel better!

I have tried to return those favors by taking meals to others when they need it. But there are definitely some things that help make it easier on everyone involved. Here is what I have learned:

*Find out if there are any food allergies, special diets or strong dislikes that you need to work around. You don’t want to spend all day making up a fabulous dish of your famous homemade chili just to find out that they gag on tomatoes or they’re vegetarian and can’t eat ground beef. And why bring them a gallon of ice cream or homemade mac n’ cheese if there is a milk allergy in their family? Also, speaking from experience, as a nursing mother there are often things you can’t eat because it can affect your baby (onions, in my case). Be sure to ask before preparing a meal if there are any special food restrictions you should be aware of.

*Think disposable. I remember when people brought me meals after I had my babies- it was so stressful if I had to keep track of what dishes were brought by who and then had to figure out how to return them! I’m ashamed to admit that some dishes didn’t get returned for a while! And I have a couple dishes that were used to take a meal to others that have never made their way back home. Chances are, if you are taking a meal to someone, they are sick or have a lot on their plate; and while it’s very considerate and helpful to take them a meal, it’s even more considerate and helpful if you can bring them a meal that has all disposable dishes! Buy the disposable aluminum pans, and use lots of Ziploc bags! It’s helpful if you can keep containers (such as an empty, clean tub of Cool Whip) on hand for these kinds of occasions- that way you have something to put the food in, but don’t have to worry about getting it back. If you really want to go the extra mile, provide disposable plates, cups and utensils so that there are absolutely no dishes to worry about! Just what every new mom needs;).

*Bring something that can be re-heated easily. I remember that sometimes as a new mom, I couldn’t sit down to eat right when someone brought my family a meal- I was right in the middle of nursing, trying to catch up on sleep, etc. If someone is ill they might also need to wait a little before they can eat. If you bring them something that reheats well, they’ll be even more thankful!

*Ask what time they would like the meal. In order to avoid the situation above, it’s helpful if you can ask the family when they would like the meal delivered. Your family may eat dinner at 5, but maybe their family doesn’t usually eat until 6:30 because that’s when Dad gets home! Accommodate them as much as you can.

*Create a cookbook in Cook’n for these occasions! It’s helpful to have a repertoire of recipes on hand that are tasty, versatile, and transportable. An easy way to keep track of all these is to create a cookbook in your Cook’n program that is labeled ‘New Mommy Meals’ , ‘Service Meals’, or something like that. When choosing which recipes to put in, remember the tips above. You want something that you can transport pretty easily and that reheats well- but you also want a little variety. Have some dairy-free dishes, non-spicy dishes, gluten-free dishes, vegan dishes, and remember that you may have to tweak some of the recipes depending on the family’s allergies and dislikes.

What other tips would you add? Has your family ever been the recipient of service like this? I’d love to hear about it!


    Camille Hoffmann
    Weekly Newsletter Contributor since 2014
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