Meals are one of the most loving gifts you can give to someone during a life changing event. Friends have brought us meals during the good times and the bad so from those experiences I've written my top tips for making meals for others to show your love and support.
I started this post with new parents in mind as it is a part of Lemon Lime Adventures' Ultimate Guide to Baby's First Year. Friends and family brought us dinners when D was born but even before that they were generous with home cooked food deliveries during Violet's diagnosis and death. At times you are so overwhelmed, exhausted, stressed, elated, or busy with a life changing event so meals may be the first thing cut from your to do list. Yet you need to eat to take care of yourself and you need to feed your family. A friend dropping off a well timed meal can be just what you need to feel surrounded with love and it often reminds you that you are in fact famished!
Since we've been fortunate enough to receive meals during life changing events of our own I've since organized and prepared meals to take to others. I know how much it meant to us so I love to pass on this favor to important people in our lives!
Here are my tips for organizing a meal rotation for a family experiencing a life changing event:
- Use social mediaAsk your friend if you can post through their social media accounts that you'd like to organize a meal drop off schedule for them. Often other friends and family would like to participate as well so coordinating is the key to not getting several meals on one day and none the rest of the week!
- Schedule every other day (and make extras for leftovers)
Plan for meal drop offs every other day and skip holidays. When it's your turn to bring the meal consider making extras so they can have lunch the next day from the leftovers!
- Check out Meal BabyThere are several meal registry websites available (feel free to make your recommendations in the comments) but my favorite by far is Meal Baby. In one place you can organize everything you need to pull off a successful gift of several meals for a family by sharing the link with the meal providers!
- Consider allergies and dietary restrictionsIt's very unfortunate when one family member can't eat a meal for whatever reason. Ask if anyone has allergies, if someone is gluten free or maybe a vegetarian, and consider medical reasons why the family may not be eating as they typically do (new medications, treatments, or breastfeeding mothers often change their diets). Simply say, "I'd love to bring you a meal. Is there anything anyone in your family can't eat right now?"
- Packaging the mealTypically we only use reusable, non-disposable dishes and food storage containers. That being said when D was born one of the best gifts I got from my neighbor BFF was a package of paper plates. It was permission to indulge in convenience while he was a newborn and frankly I welcomed and needed it! If you are just too green to package your meal in a disposable container purchase the packaging as part of the gift to the family. Make it clear that you do not want the containers returned to you. I was very stressed out about keeping containers straight and returning them to the correct person.
- Personalize your giftI don't remember much about the early days after Violet's diagnosis but I do remember a friend who brought a meal with macaroni and cheese and applesauce for E in case she was a picky eater like most toddlers can be at times! Including bread and dessert (which is often overlooked when bringing a meal) is extra thoughtful! Write a note of support on the foil that covers the casserole along with the directions for reheating.
- Think outside the boxBring breakfast instead of dinner! Add trail mix for a snack for tomorrow! Pin Blessed by Brenna's 10 Meal Ideas to Make for Others That Aren't Lasagna for future reference. Include frozen cookies that a caregiver can make with an older sibling while mom rests with her new baby! Take the kids for lunch so mom can sleep (or shower) while the baby naps or have the kids to your house for dinner so the parents can get a night to themselves.
- Be mindful during drop off
Some families will welcome a visit and let you hold the baby but some may be overwhelmed (and unshowered with a messy house) so maybe they'd rather you leave the meal on the doorstep and run. When you call or email to ask the best time to drop off the meal you can try to get clues about the family's wishes but when in doubt drop the meal and go!
- Consider a gift cardIf you live too far away to drop off a meal or you don't love to cook give a gift card to a restaurant. Make sure there is a location close to their home. Even Starbucks can be a welcomed surprise for a family to pick up after a night without a lot of sleep!
- Prepare for the unexpectedI double many of our meals when I'm cooking to freeze half. These are my go to meals on busy nights for our family but they also provide a freezer full of gifts when someone we love is hit with a sudden unexpected life changing event.
Have you been blessed with meals from friends and family during a time of need? Please add your suggestions in the comments along with any recipes that were a favorite!
For more ideas of how to surround a family (even your own!) with love as they welcome a little one visit the Ultimate Guide to Taking Care of New Parents.
Taking Time For Mom
5 Things New Parents Really Need BPhotoArt
Ways to Reset When Suffering From Postpartum Depression Trust Me, I'm a Mom
Ways to sneak in me-time when you have a new baby Mom Favorites
Look Better Feel Better Plain Vanilla Mom
5 Fast Ways to Refresh as a Mom Peace but Not Quiet
How to be Supportive When Birth Doesn't Go as Planned The Realistic Mama
Getting Through the First Months: 5 Golden Rules for New Parents Let the Journey Begin
10 Post Baby Must-Haves That No One Talks About Pink Oatmeal
Gift Ideas For New Parents
Gift Ideas for Parents of a Newborn Baby Powerful Mothering
Mother Blessing for Expecting Moms All Done Monkey
Little Mommy Luxuries - Must Haves for Every New Mom The Eyes of a Boy
Tips for Newborn clothes La Cité des Vents
Never Go Wrong With Fantastical Flowers Conceiving Piper
Hand the Baby Over to Dad: Fun Bonding Activities for Dads and Babies The Jenny Evolution
Frugal Tips for Parents
6 Tips for Getting Dinner on the Table After Having a Baby The Stay-at-Home-Mom Survival Guide
Frugal Living: Our Tip Five Tips for Saving Money with a BabyBare Feet on the Dashboard
Tips for Parents of Multiples/Preemies
5 Things You Need to Know About Preemies True Aim Education
Parenting Multiples Bambini Travel