When it comes to helping someone in need, I have found a humbling grace when taking a meal to a friend. It wasn’t always this way. I’ve had seasons in my life when cooking for someone else would put me over the edge because I found myself so challenged to cook for my own family. Seriously. Its not something I’ve always loved to do. And in those years I had no problem sending over a rotisserie chicken, bag of salad and fixes, a loaf of fresh bread, bottle of wine, and some bakery fresh treats too. But over the last few years I’ve found myself more willing to follow recipes to make more than the every day family fare and more people in our lives who could benefit from this helping hand. Different that the meals you cook for a Mom with a new baby, when your kids hit their teen years and a family needs a hand, meals from others are a huge relief because your people need to eat real food and lots of it. In fact, I experienced this first hand last May when I had my foot surgery. The meals my friends brought to feed my family were so comforting because by providing them they weren’t only feeding us, but they were also caring for me.
So while its easy to say “I’m too busy to cook for my family ~ how could I possibly cook for someone else’s?” Actually its a lot easier than you think. Here are my tips for taking a meal to a friend in need:
Ask About Favorite Dishes
Nothing worse than offering to help and then sending the one dish that no one in that family will eat. From food allergies to picky eaters, vegetarian preferences to no comfort food in case they’ve had enough casseroles for a lifetime, its okay to ask the recipient what they would love to have. If you are part of a care committee or group cooking for a friend over a long period of time, this is even more important to make sure there isn’t a freezer full of lasagnas or mac n cheese that will never disappear.
Ask for a Preferred Day and Time
Because your are helping someone during a time of need, schedules could be tricky. Check your calendar to see when its easiest for you to cook a double meal and then give your friend a few dates to pick from to see if any of those will also be helpful for her. If you are having trouble making that work you can always provide a meal on the weekend or make one to deliver on Sunday that is just as easily eaten Sunday or any other day of the week.
Choose Servingware Wisely
I’m always torn between sending dishes that will look nice on my friend’s table knowing they might the in a sea of paper goods and longing for a nice dinner. Or being practical and using disposable serving ware that they have no obligation to return. Depending on the circumstances, keeping track of whose dishes go where is just one more burden they may not need to carry. If this is the case, there are tons of great disposable servingware solutions on the market to accommodate casseroles and baked items in all the same measurements you are used to and only sending servingware to a home where you know returning the items will easily be done. If you are helping someone you don’t know well then its always best to go with disposable.
Label Servingware and Tote Bags
The best way to make sure you receive those items back is to put a cute label with your name clearly marked thanks to your sharpie or monogram. (You know how I love a good monogram!) That way its easy for anyone who might be doing the dishes to organized dishes into stacks to go back. Make it easy on them by leaving a cute tote or picnic basket as well so again anyone can do dish delivery and transport your items home with ease. If you are sending an item that could just as easily be frozen for later in the week, be sure to add the date for everyone to see.
Include a Note of Encouragement
Before you deliver your goodies, take a moment to write a quick note of encouragement sharing your well wishes and love. Then when do you drop by, stop short of ding dong ditching and step inside your friend’s home only to give any directions about reheating or serving the meal when the family is ready to eat. Don’t stay for more than a few gracious moments, simply ask if there is anything else they need or another time when a meal might be helpful. Let your recipient do the talking. If they want or need you to stay, it will be very clear and make sure you leave yourself open for time to listen or help as needed.
In today’s busy world having homemade dessert with dinner is a gift. Even if its not homemade, a pie, a pan of brownies, or even muffins that could double as a breakfast treat the next day go a long way to care for your friends. After all, who doesn’t love dessert?
Oddly, I’ve found that offering to cook for a friend in need has made me more willing to cook for my own family too. By choosing recipes I can easily double up, I find myself wanting to make sure I send something flavorful for the grownups, edible for the kids, and enough to give them leftovers for another meal in a few days. Somewhere along the way, it dawned on me that this is what every family needs no matter if they are in a time of need or simply trying to get through another insanely busy week. As is so often the case, while focusing on how we can serve others, I find myself unexpectedly blessed as well.
Check out the Polyvore Board above for some of my favorite finds for how to make the logistics of taking a meal to a friend run more smoothing. And if its recipes you need, our Recipes Pinterest Board is always growing with my favorite finds. Just this past week I made a simple meal with Corn Flake Chicken Strips, Cherry Tomato Salad, and Home Made Mac N Cheese and two houses could have not been more pleased. Tell me…
What is your favorite meal to share with a friend in need?
Thanks so much for stopping by ~ we’ll see you next time!