Almost three years ago I experienced a devastating loss when my best friend lost her 9 year old son. No one is ever ready for something like that because it hits you so hard and so fast and it literally takes your breath away and leaves you reeling. Having not ever gone through anything this devastating before I was so grateful for those who stepped up to help us through those first couple of weeks as we muddled our way through all that needed to be done. In particular, having meals delivered to the house was an amazing blessing to the family.
Here are some tips I learned throughout the process that I thought might be beneficial to others wanting to prepare a meal for someone in need. Of course that need doesn’t have to be the loss of a loved one. It’s also a huge blessing to new moms to receive the gift of a meal, or the new family next door welcoming them to the neighborhood, or a friend celebrating a birthday or simply needing a pick me up after having a down day or for a family trying to get back on their feet after recovering from the flu. The list goes on and on.
Bringing over meals is a nice and generous idea but wouldn’t it make life easier if you knew what everyone else was bringing so as not to make duplicates? It is definitely possible now through online sites that allow you to coordinate and organize meal delivery with others. There are many to choose from.
Two that I’ve used in the past are Food Tidings and Meal Train. Both allow one person to set up a schedule and send out email invites to others asking them to sign up on any of the available days to bring a meal to the family. In addition, each volunteer is asked to record what type of meal they’ll be bringing which is particularly helpful for alleviating duplicate meal types back to back. It also allows you the opportunity to know whether there are any family likes, dislikes or allergies and how many people will be in attendance. Also particularly helpful are the email reminders that go out so you don’t forget what day you signed up for.
Other sites that offer similar services:
You might immediately think of the Lasagna as the perfect meal to bring to a family. I understand this as it’s a comforting and delicious one dish meal that is easily portable and freezes well. However please know that many people are also thinking this very same thought and so to avoid Lasagna abundance I’m going to include a few alternative easy casserole recipe ideas below.
My personal go-to meal when delivering a meal is Creamy Caesar Chicken Pasta Bake. It’s so easy to throw together and everyone loves it. I’ve made it at least 30 times over the years and received many compliments on it. This exact recipe is no longer available online but thankfully I printed it out (whew!) and so I’m including a picture of the recipe here for you. As you can tell this recipe has been handled a few times.
I usually add some garlic bread and a veggie of some sort as well as dessert.
I boxed it all up for delivery.
Here are a few other casseroles that are very good.
It’s also a nice touch to include some garlic bread and an easy dessert with the meal if you can. Please remember it doesn’t have to be fancy or even elaborate, whatever you are able to do is so appreciated. With so many other details to worry about, not having to think about food is such a huge blessing to the family. Even if you don’t have time to prepare a meal bringing over baking of any kind (homemade or store bought) is helpful as the family will have plenty of visitors popping in and out of the house all day long.
Use Disposable Dishes:
It is so important not to add additional stress onto the person you are trying to bless especially when multiple people are involved supplying meals. Using disposable dishes means recipients don’t have to worry about remembering whose dish goes back to who. With someone new possibly bringing dinner each day the dishes start to accumulate pretty fast and take up valuable space in the house. To return them is just one more thing for the family to think about. If it’s not possible for you to use disposable dishware offer to come back the next day to pick up your dishes.
Even when there is a schedule sometimes recipients can get overwhelmed with all the food coming in. That’s why it’s always a good idea to make a meal that can be easily frozen for later if necessary. Bringing over a meal that freezes well and can be cooked and heated later means that if the meal isn’t needed that particular day they can simply stick it in the freezer for another time when it will be needed. Most casseroles freeze well. Please read my freezer post for freezer tutorials and more recipes.
Make Sure to Label:
Always include clear cooking instructions on the food you bring written in permanent marker. Tape or write instructions to the top of your meal container. In addition to the cooking temperature and time, you will also want to include the name of the dish as well as highlight some of the main ingredients in case of allergies.
Such an amazing gift! Have you blessed someone lately with food? Do you have any other suggestions or recipe ideas you’d like to add? Please feel free to add them to the comments below.