I was asked by a friend to post some suggestions on what to do when asked to bring someone a meal. I’ve heard it from more than a few people that whenever they are asked to participate in a meal registry, they feel nervous…overwhelmed…fearful…Will they like my dish? Will they throw it out? Will their kids eat it? Will I make enough? The list of self-doubting questions can go on and on! However, there is no need to fear the prospect of bringing someone food! I have a handy list of the do’s and don’ts for blessing someone with a meal. Here we go!
First, I would like to take the chance to introduce all of you to a FABULOUS website. If you are anyone you know is having a baby, you NEED to sign them up for this site! Head on over to mealbaby.com You can completely customize the meal gifting experience for your friend. You can select the days of the month they need/would like a meal, add in their likes and dislikes, food allergies, number of people you will be feeding, etc. It is a terrific resource, and really simplifies the process of trying to organize meal delivery.
The Do’s and Don’ts
1. Pay attention to the family’s likes and dislikes! If they say they dislike garlic, don’t make 40 clove chicken. If they aren’t a fan of red meat, don’t bring Beef Stew, etc. This seems like an obvious don’t, but often people become so used to preparing a dish a certain way, that they may not notice they are including an ingredient the family you are preparing it for doesn’t care for. So, pay attention, and don’t try to sneak something in they might not like!
Watch for allergies as well! If you know someone in the family is allergic to nuts or has a gluten allergy, be sensitive to that, and make sure to include their needs in your planning.
2.Don’t try out a new recipe on them! When you are preparing a meal for someone else, it is not the best time to try out a cooking experiment. While I am all for playing around in the kitchen, it is best to stick to something you KNOW you cook well!
3. Stick to the Classics! It is best to prepare something that is typically a crowd-pleaser. Think about the types of food served at All-American or Americanized ethnic restaurants. Consider, “would their children eat it?” before you prepare it. Things like pastas, chicken, traditional casseroles are typically safe bets. Things to avoid are seafood, spicy foods, or overly ethnic dishes like curry.
Here are a few of my top picks for Meal Gifting
Here are a few other alternatives for you:
- Make your favorite version of lasagna or spaghetti. Almost everyone (and their kids) will eat these safe classics.
- Bring the fixings for tacos. Bring over shells, tortillas, beans, taco meat, cheese, and all the veggies.
- Bring a Take and Bake Pizza! (You do NOT have to be a cook to bring someone a meal!)
- Along those lines, call and ask them what type of subs they like, and hit up Subway.
4. Bring a WHOLE Meal! We have been lucky enough to have been blessed with lots of meals following the births of our children. One thing that we loved each time was when someone would bring us a truly complete meal. Don’t just bring a main dish. Take along a side dish, a fruit or vegetable dish, and rolls or bread. If you bring a number of items, the people you are serving are more likely to find something they like. A picky child receiving the meal may not care for the main dish, but if you brought fruit salad, rice, and rolls, the mother might not have to go to the trouble of fixing mac and cheese.
5. Bring the EXTRAS! Another thing we really loved was when people would bring us the little extras. Bring a dessert! Especially if the woman has just had a baby or a surgery, it is likely that she won’t be in the kitchen whipping up a cake or some cookies. Even if you are not a baker, send along a store bought treat. Trust me, the family will love it! We even had a few people send along a drink with our meal. Consider sending some flavored water or a 2 liter of soda. The extra thought will go a long way.
5 1/2. Think about an extra meal: If you are already sending a family a dinner, think about sending along breakfast for the next morning. Pack up a tin of muffins, a coffee cake, or a brunch bake that will be ready to throw in the oven in the morning. Almost no one thinks of sending a breakfast, and a good hearty breakfast is something that new parents need. (Also, if the family has other children, the tired mom will very much appreciate not having to get up and make breakfast for them!!)
If the family does have school-aged children, consider throwing in a lunchable, a box of goldfish, fruit snacks….some things a mom could quickly throw together for a lunch. Others have also sent along a special treat for our older children, just to make them feel special….and it worked! Just use the opportunity to think about the family’s meal needs for the whole day, and try to meet them. (It’s fun and they will appreciate it!)
You may also consider thinking of the Dad, and doing something nice for him. Dads often get overlooked in the wake of a new baby. Send a little gift card to a coffee shop, his favorite candy bar, or some snacks for his office fridge.
6. Be on time and don’t forget! Above all, if you committed to bringing a meal, make sure you do! If you are going to cancel for some reason, make sure you let the family know in advance so they can make other arrangements, and won’t be sitting around waiting for food!
7. Get Details – Call/Email/Text and ask what time they would like their meal. Ask if they would like it brought warm, or if they would like to heat it up themselves. If you are wanting to visit, check and make sure that is okay. Be considerate and thoughtful. They will appreciate it!
Blessing a family with a meal is an immense kindness! We have appreciated every bite of food someone took the time to make for us. I hope the next time you are asked to bring a meal to someone, or know of a family in need of a meal, you won’t shy away! (And don’t think that just because a few others have volunteered, that you can’t! We’ve had times where we had three full weeks of meals, and LOVED it!) Happy cooking ladies!