We Need You to Cook
Benjamin Franklin once famously said, “Nothing is certain except death and taxes.”
Obviously, Franklin wasn’t a Mom.
A Mom would have added many more things to that list. I for one, think it should go like this:
Nothing is certain except death, taxes, and your kid saying, “Can I have a snack?”
No matter what surprises and curve balls life throws, one thing remains the same: people gotta eat.
Bringing a meal to a friend in need is a pretty standard gesture where I’m from. It’s a wonderful way to show you care. I’m sure many of you don’t need convincing, but here are some reasons to bring someone food.
- It Takes Something Off Their To-Do List
Cooking s a big undertaking when you think about it. Choose a recipe, shop for ingredients, prep time, cook/bake time, don’t forget the salad because you need more greens in your diet, etc, etc…. When someone is dealing with a crisis, they have bigger things to think about.
- It Keeps Them Healthy
When someone is grieving or going through an emotionally tough season, they often eat poorly. Fast food, microwave food… or they forget to eat entirely. A well-balanced meal helps them keep their strength up, and helps keep colds at bay.
- It’s Comforting
There’s nothing quite like eating a hot tasty meal that’s been made with love. Especially if it’s a staple “Comfort Food,” like chicken noodle soup, or mac & cheese. Yum!
So I think we all agree that food is a great way to help a friend in need. Now, here are some tips to make that gesture even more meaningful.
- Use Disposable Dishes
Tin foil pans from the Dollar Store are you best friend in this situation. Leaving your own dishes obligates someone to wash them and return them (not to mention remembering who they came from!) when they already have more pressing things on their mind.
Another thing I frequently do is save my pickle jars to have on hand for food-giving. They are absolutely perfect for transporting soup, stew, chili, and spaghetti sauce.
Also, consider a pre-bagged salad from the grocery store, or make your own in a ziplock bag instead of sending a bowl.
- Ask About Dietary Restrictions
And then follow them!
The last thing you want to do is put your friend through and allergic reaction on top of what they are going through. In addition, someone who has just had surgery may be on a Doctor-prescribed diet.
Keep in mind that allergens are sneaky and like to hide.
Soy hides in many sauces. (It also goes by other names, like tofu and MSG.)
Dairy hides in canned soups, salad dressings, and baked goods. (Look also for “Milk Ingredients” on a label.)
Gluten hides in canned soups and broths, gravies, seasoning mixes, and so many more places. (Look for ingredients like flour, wheat, barley, and “malted” anything.)
Eggs are obviously in most baked goods, but also like to hide on anything that has a breading or coating, like chicken burgers/fingers.
Be sure to check the ingredients of your ingredients, and when in doubt, ask.
Always be sure to label what is in the dish (including common allergens), and add instructions on how to reheat it (especially if you are dropping off a frozen dish, not a hot one). It doesn’t hurt to add your name and phone number too, in case they need to ask you about ingredients.
- Think Outside the Casserole
Chances are, you aren’t the only one reaching out. That could mean a freezer full of shepherd’s pie and lasagna! Get creative, and try something other than a classic, one-pan meal.
Box meal components up separately for a “regular” meal. Example: chicken and sauce in one, rice or potato side in another, and a bagged salad.
Try a hot dip with nacho chips and sliced raw veggies.
Use pickle jars to bring over soups and stews with a side of fresh buns from the bakery.
Bring a build-your-own taco bar. Cook the meat ahead of time, then send it with shells/tortillas, a small jar of salsa, a bag of pre-shredded lettuce, and a bag of pre-shredded cheese. Everything but the meat can be bought and given as-is from the grocery store, which means less work for for you, and a nice change of pace for them.
Skip the “meal” altogether, and bring something for snacks, breakfast, or the kid’s lunchboxes instead. Scones, muffins, cookies, breakfast burritos, and homemade waffles to reheat are all nice to have on hand. They can even put them in their freezer for a day they are needed.
- Don’t Forget Dessert
When I had my babies, many people from our congregation brought food. (Our church has a whole team in place to cook for new moms–how awesome is that?)
We were treated to many wonderful dishes, but one stands out in my mind nearly eight years later. A friend brought a plate of homemade mixed baking with her meal. Those cookies and squares were serious comfort food and obviously met a pretty big emotional need, since I still remember them after all this time.
Now when I make meals for others, I try my best to bring dessert too, just to make someone’s day.
Obviously, if someone is diabetic or has been told by their Doctor to avoid sweets, don’t tempt them. I trust you to use your discretion.
- Can’t Cook? No Problem!
You don’t have to be a chef to share a hot meal with a friend. Picking up takeout is a great gesture too (and might be a welcome change from casseroles.)
One time, a friend ordered pizza for us from our favourite pizza place. She even got extra-larges so there would be leftovers for lunch the next day. My kids thought it was the best thing ever!
You could also go with a restaurant gift card for someone that is doing a lot of traveling back and forth from hospitals for treatments, or to visit a loved one in long-term care. They are probably eating at cheap fast-food places to save money, so why not treat them to something a little nicer?
- Consider Making it a Group Effort
Gather a few friends to cover a whole week of meals for someone. That way, you can collaborate and not send duplicate meals.
There is even a great website for this called Meal Train.1 It helps you schedule meals, keep track of food allergies and preferences, sends participants reminder emails when their turn is coming up, and provides you with a sharable link so it’s easy to get more people on board.
I hope these suggestions are helpful as you cook for others.
I would love to hear your own tips and meal/recipe ideas in the comments below!
1. I am not affiliated with Meal Train, or receiving any commission for sharing it. I am recommending it because I think it’s great!
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