Providing Meals Outside the Home
Whether you feel like spreading a little love with a homecooked meal, are taking care of a sick family member or providing food for new parents, there are certain things you can do to make sure your gift is a blessing and not a burden. If you want to leave your friends begging for more, follow these 10 tips when providing meals outside the home.
1. When giving food to others it is important to consider their likes and dislikes, as well as any allergies they might have to certain foods. Just ask, they will tell you.
2. Whether you make the meal from scratch or buy it from the local restaurant, either is appreciated. The key is to make sure it is prepared and ready to consume. If you are delivering food to a sick friend, asking that person to assemble ingredients and spend time making dinner probably defeats the purpose of why you are offering to give them a helping hand. The key is to reduce the amount of work so they might receive a little respite.
3. Unless you know the ingredients for their favorite sushi, stick to basic comfort food. This is usually the best choice, especially if someone is recovering from an illness.
4. Bring everything in disposable containers. In years past, this would have been frowned upon. It was not uncommon for food to be delivered in the giver’s favorite casserole dishes. If you were the young mom home with a newborn, it would have been easier to order take-out than be burdened with cleaning containers and making the arrangements to have everything returned. The key is to reduce the homebound person’s workload, not increase it.
5. Label every item. People like to know what they are eating. This becomes more relevant if there are children in the family. The individual can pick and choose what they like.
6. As mentioned above, bring the meal ready to eat, but do include reheating instructions.
7. Make sure your quantity is large enough to feed the entire family. If one spouse is home recovering, the other spouse is now serving as care giver. They both need a helping hand. If children are in the mix, knowing there is one night that no one needs to think about the evening meal is an added blessing. I think it is always nice to bring enough for leftovers, too.
8. If you can, bring the entire meal, including sides. I do not just bring a lasagna. I bring the salad, dressing and rolls, too. Adding a dessert is an extra treat. Mentally go through the meal. If you were eating what you are providing, is there anything missing? Maybe some butter for those rolls? Salt and pepper for the salad? The bigger the load you can carry, the greater impact your gift will have.
9. For a little extra pop, ask yourself if there is anything else you could bring to brighten the day. When delivering the dinner meal, maybe include a bag of their favorite pastries for the next morning. What about a basket of snacks? Their favorite coffee? All gifts are appreciated, but it is nice to go that extra step and ask what you would love to receive if you were in their place.
10. When you agree to deliver a meal, whatever you do, do not cancel! It seems this would go without saying, but I see it happen too often. A person has signed up through their bible study class to deliver a meal to new parents. Something happens at work and they are delayed so they are unable to follow through. They cancel on the couple at the last minute, and the new parents now must scramble around to put food on the table. Will they starve? No, but when we do not follow through, we have now added a burden when our goal was to eliminate added work. If you find your plans truly keep you from delivering the homecooked meal, then place an order from a restaurant that delivers. This may cost more money, but you committed to provide a service, and it is important to follow through.
In our COVID-19 world, I will add one extra tip. If you are making the meal from home, it is good practice to wear a mask and gloves. Let the person know you took the appropriate precautions to protect them. A family member or friend who is ill might be wary about consuming outside food in which they did not have control. Making them aware of the steps you took to protect them will bring the comfort they need.
Food is a gift that God has given us, and healing seems to take place when we join each other around the table. “You satisfy my soul with the richest foods. My mouth will sing your praise with joyful lips.” Psalm 63:5. Make the giving of food an important part of your life. A hungry world needs us to be the hands and feet of Christ.
Together with you,