When we brought each of our babies home from the hospital, my mom stayed with us for a few days. But she had responsibilities to get back to, and when she left, we were on our own.
That’s when our church family stepped in.
Every night around 5pm, a hot, ready to eat meal would show up on our doorstep, along with a happy smile and not even a glance at our unkempt living room. We so looked forward to those meals! Especially by the time the third baby came along, recuperating from childbirth while doing bus runs and homework took it’s toll. We would have been eating McDonald’s every night, if it weren’t for the families that took time out to provide dinner for us.
Since then, I’ve been able to be one of those doorbell ringers, with a hot meal in hand. Whether it’s for a family that’s just added a new child to their family, or a family that’s undergone a big life change or transition, or when a parent is sick, I’ve learned a few things about making my delivered meal as convenient as possible for those who will be enjoying it!
Ask about allergies or other dietary concerns.
Make sure that the entire family will be able to enjoy the meal. If there are allergies or food sensitivities, plan your delivered meal around them.
Use disposable serving dishes.
Dollar stores have all sorts of wonderful aluminum pans and plates that often come with cardboard lids. Delivering your meal in containers that can be tossed means that your new mom friend doesn’t need to wash, store and return your casserole dish to you. It’s one less thing for her to worry about.
Make it a complete meal.
Take any kind of stress off of the parents by rounding out that casserole with salad or bread, a dessert and even a bottle of apple juice for the little ones. Make it as easy as possible for everyone to sit down at the table with as little prep as possible.
Include a full set of disposable plates, cutlery and cups.
If there are 5 people in the family, put 5 paper plates, 5 forks, 5 knives, 5 napkins, and even 5 disposable plastic cups into a large zipper bag. If you’ve used disposable serving dishes, the family won’t have to do any dishes at all. Win!
Add a special touch for young children.
When we had our second baby, one or two of the meals that were delivered to us also came with a special gift for our first child, a toddler at the time. They weren’t huge gifts – just dollar store books and small toys in a gift bag – but my toddler loved them! With all of the gifts coming and going for the new baby, he was so happy to receive gifts just for him. It was a special touch that made his adjustment to our bigger family much easier.
Drop Off The Meal and Run.
Don’t make your delivery into a social call. Stay outside and just hand the food over, along with any verbal instructions. Even if the family asks you in, politely decline. After all, they’re just about to sit down to dinner ;-). And I’m sure you know yourself, when a family is going through a transition, you don’t have time to tidy up or get dressed for the day. Inviting yourself into their home will likely cause more stress, which is exactly what we’re trying to cut back on.
When new neighbours move in, when a family separates, when a child is added to the family through birth, foster care or adoption, or when there’s been a death in the family – all of these are perfect opportunities to help out by providing a meal. Everyone needs to eat, and giving a family a chance to sit down together and enjoy a meal in spite of the upheaval in their life is a huge blessing, both to them and to the one providing the meal!
How about you?
Has there been a time in your life when others have stepped up to help by providing meals for your family?