Taking Meals to Friends

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Today’s guest post from Jacinda offers suggestions for planning to take a meal to a friend. Today I hope you’ll share recipes that travel well, whether that’s on vacation, to a potluck or to share with a friend.

Being part of a church group provides me with many wonderful opportunities to help provide meals to others. Whether it’s having a baby, mourning a death in the family or just giving someone a break from a stressful time, bringing a meal can be one of the most comforting yet personal ways to show that someone cares for them.

If you are a person that gets the chance to do this often for others, you may know that it can be challenging on a budget, and hard to manage and organize the planning of the meals. Planning ahead and organization are definitely the keys in making meals for others a delightful, not daunting task.

What to make?

Make easy to assemble, and easy to eat meals. This might not be the time to be a gourmet chef, but to just stick with the “classics” of meals. Here are a few great ideas for what to bring:

  • Casseroles/One Pot Dish: These can be put into foil or tupperware containers, and be an all-in-one meal.
  • Tacos/Burritos
  • Roast Chicken
  • Marinated, Grilled Meats
  • Pastas
  • Salads

Scheduling of Meals

A great trick for making meals for others easier on yourself is knowing ahead of time when you will be bringing the meal. This way you can plan accordingly, and fit it into your own meal planning schedule.

If I am bringing a meal to someone soon, I fit it into my monthly freezer cooking days, and assemble and make the meal at that time. I then freeze it and have it ready to go when the time comes.

photo source

Planning of Meals

If you are part of a group that supports others in need, or maybe a part of a family that takes turns in visiting elderly or disabled family members, you know that half of the battle is figuring out who is going to bring what to the person in need.

Make Use of Technology

Take Them a Meal is a great website that a friend in our group started using for our class when we had people needing meals. It’s a free service that lets you set up meals for other people, all in one place.

  • People bringing the meals can sign up for a specified date, and provide needed information.
  • The person receiving the meals can see everyone’s phone numbers, dates, and any meals that they will be receiving.
  • They can also list any dislikes or food allergies.
  • The site also sends out emails to remind you a day ahead of who is coming to bring a meal.

Giving the gift of comfort to others is such a joy, and these tips have helped me enjoy it more because I know that no matter what my financial situation or time constraint, I can still be of some help to someone else

— Jacinda and her hubby live in NC and can be found writing about life as a homemaker at  Homemaker Handguide where she teaches you “Fancy Living on a Frugal Budget” through couponing, cooking, and anything else.

About Jessica Fisher

I believe anyone can prepare delicious meals—no matter their budget.

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  1. A homeless woman just asked for money from me for food on the street a few minutes ago. I said, “You want me to buy you some food?” She said, “Yeah.” I said, “Okay come in the deli with me.”

    We walked in and I got her a nice turkey sub.

    • @Anthony from CharismaticKid,
      I love that you did that. In the wintertime, I keep brown bag lunches in my car to give to the homeless as we see them. Just simple cracker packs, granola bars, fruit cups, puddings etc along with a bottle of water and a plastic utensil. I wish there were a way to do this in the summertime, but in Phoenix, there is just no way to keep anything like that in my vehicle.

      In the interest of honesty, these are not foods I keep in my home or would buy for my family. However, they are appreciated without fail by all the persons I have ever given them to along the road.

  2. Nice post! It is always good to give :0)

  3. foodtidings.com is another website that allows you to schedule meals for people. I’m guessing that Take Them A Meal is much the same.

    I love taking full salad meals to families. I can take it over early in the day. I package everything separately and they can assemble as they are ready to eat and if there are pickier eaters in the family, they can build the salad to their individual tastes.

    The most important thing I’ve learned through years of taking meals and a few babies worth of receiving them as well, is to use disposable containers! It is never fun to have a stack of dishes sitting around your home for months waiting for the opportunity to return them to the owners, provided you can even recall who everything belonged to originally.

  4. We are blessed to have a great group of friends who are always ready to bring a meal when we are having a bad day/week/life. One of the things I really appreciate is that they will often not just bring dinner, but they will bring something for breakfast too, like banana nut bread or a quiche. So thoughtful!

  5. Thanks for another roundup. That website sounds amazing. What a novel way to keep track of meals you’re organizing for a neighbor or friend.

  6. I linked to a bacon potato torte, just add a side of veggies and you are good to go!!

  7. Pamela J says

    Meal Train is another website to sign up for meals. Our MOPS group sends out meal requests on it and I find it easy to use. It is such a nice gift to receive a meal. I second the disposable container comment.

  8. Hattie says

    I have a list of recipes that I can double so that I am making our dinner at the same time that I am prepping a meal for someone else. Lasagna, chicken pot pie, and chicken enchiladas are great for that (in disposable containers, with appropriate sides/ condiments included). I usually bake a big dessert or double a smaller dessert and include that. Or, if it’s warm weather season, I stock up on extra ice cream when it’s on sale and then I can take a half gallon of something yummy from Breyer’s for dessert. Cuz who doesn’t like Breyer’s?:) If it’s the case of a new baby, I also typically bake something breakfast-y (muffins, coffee cake, etc.) and include that with the meal because I know that it may be a while before mama feels like baking. And cereal gets old after a while.

    Our church usually sets up an email chain for meals when they’re needed. We ask about food allergies/preferences and then the meal makers try to coordinate (“reply all” is great for that:))so that some poor new mommy and daddy don’t have to eat chili four nights in a row.:)

  9. Polly says

    Our church uses “Take them a meal” all of the time, especially when it’s time for a new baby to arrive! We have the new parents write specific things they like to eat that are home cooked and even ask them to give specific ordering directions to their favorite restaurants. Then we cut and paste their info into the text that gets sent out through the site. Everyone’s happy!

  10. Amy says

    My husband is gluten intolerant so he cannot always eat the meals people have made for us. We appreciated it so much when a family brought us a gluten free pizza and another family baked potatos with all the fixings. I think the idea that someone thought specifically of you is what makes you want to help someone else later on.

  11. Kristin says

    is also an awesome source for an online calendar – someone sets it up and sends out the link for people to sign up. It has a place to list food allergies, likes/dislikes, map to location, and even sends you an email reminder the day before you’re signed up. It’s great to plan out a month in advance for someone with minimal coordinating.

  12. Our next door neighbours recently had a death in the household and I knew that they wouldn’t feel like cooking the day after the death, so that night I made a huge potato salad. And I got a turkey out of the deep freeze to defrost in the sink overnight and then hubby and I got up really early the next morning and put the turkey in the oven. By 2 pm the turkey had finished cooking and hubby carved it. We took half the sliced cooled turkey and potato salad to the ladies next door and we had the rest for suppers and lunches over the next two days.

    With the weather being so hot here, cold turkey and potato salad were much appreciated as a meal that didn’t even need to be heated up. And it wasn’t even something where they had to think about a meal time. Just anytime someone was hungry they could dish themselves a plate.

  13. As someone who’s delivered and received many, many meals, these are definitely great tips.

    I really love the technology that’s available now–just in the last few years–to make the coordinating easier. When I’ve just had a baby, or when I had a sick child, the first thing to send me over the edge was any kind of logistical planning–even if it was planning for someone else to make me my own dinner! Those websites make the process so much easier for everyone.

    One more thing: I used to be concerned that I didn’t have the time to make a meal, or that the family wouldn’t like what I would make. Now, if I want to take a shortcut, I plan the meal around a store-bought rotisserie chicken. I never would have thought of it, but someone brought one to my family after a new baby, and I’ve been going that route ever since.

  14. Since I am always on the go I am always looking for snacks that travel well. Thanks for hosting the link party and the tips for bringing meals to families.

  15. this is such a great topic. i always use my fallback- meatloaf (which i didn’t post here, as i haven’t blogged on it yet!) and cookies. it’s good to get fresh ideas.

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