About two months ago, I had my fourth child, a 7 pound baby boy. It’s true, I haven’t received many baby gifts, but instead gotten something so much better, the gift of meals. While recovering from birth and getting used to a newborn back in the house, the last thing I want to think about is “what’s for supper”.
From babies, to surgeries, to illness, or even just because, the gift of a meal, such a comfort in a time of need. Here are a few simple tips and tricks to help create the perfect meal for someone in need:
1. Use containers that don’t need to be returned. Having to remember who brought what, and where return dishes can be daunting. Try to gift your meal in containers that the person can keep forever. Consider a aluminum casserole dish for the main course, and recycled glass jars or ziplock bags for the sides.
2. Drop of the meal at a time that is convenient for them, and don’t linger. Don’t expect to sit down, visit long, or cuddle the new baby. There will be time in the future to catch up, and your friend’s time and privacy needs to be respected. Also, when at all possible, leave your children home as to avoid adding more chaos to the situation.
3. Bring a meal that will keep or freeze well. In the case that they don’t eat the food quick enough, or want to save half for later, consider a meal with longevity, such as casserole or soup.
4. Think about the whole meal. In addition to your main dish, make sure to add a loaf of bread, fruit, and by all means don’t forget dessert! Make sure to include any condiment or sauce that will complete the meal and make it delicious.
5. Make it easy on yourself. Keep in mind that not everything has to be made from scratch (but if that’s your thing, feel free to go that extra mile). Include a loaf of crusty bread from the grocery store bakery, a premixed bag of salad, and a simple pint of their favorite ice cream.
6. Double it. If you’re going through the effort of creating a fantastic meal for a friend, make two of everything, and dinner’s complete for your family as well.
7. Make it pretty. Including a special touch such as fresh cute flowers, cute napkins, or even a bottle of their favorite wine. Always include a little handwritten note, letting your friend know you’re thinking about them. And please, let them know you don’t expect a thank-you note in return. Because you already know they’re thankful…
8. There’s an app for that! Many hands make light work. Create a meal train amongst their community for friends, family, and neighbors. Set up a delivery schedule for your friends, until he or she is back on their feet.
9. Keep it simple. Make a meal that isn’t too complex to serve. Only include food that can easily be eaten in bed, on the sofa, or one handed while mom is nursing the baby.
10. Know your audience. Is it a breastfeeding mom who is avoiding spice? Or a friend avoiding gluten or dairy? Also, don’t forget the kids. The last thing a new moms wants to do is make her other children a meal because the gifted meal wasn’t kid friendly.
Remember, you need not be a trained chef or world class baker to pull of a thoughtful gift of a meal to a friend in need.
Emily Elling is a corporate interior designer who lives in central Indiana with her 4 rugrats and drug making husband of 9 years. When she’s not taking care of the monsters, she can be found barefoot in the kitchen or hiding in the isles of her favorite thrift store buying other’s peoples crap. You can read more from Emily on her blog, DesignHer Momma.