|Home-made Chicken Noodle Soup in Gelato Containers|
At some point in time, everyone has some upheaval in their life and could use a little help with meals. Sometimes the upheaval is good; a new baby or moving into a new house. Sometimes it’s bad; illness, surgery, a death in the family. Regardless of the circumstances, bringing someone a meal during a time when something major is going on in their life is a great, practical way of letting them know you care about them.
Delivering a meal to someone doesn’t have to be a major ordeal, and you don’t have to be a gourmet cook in order to do it. A simple casserole can be enough to let them know that you’re thinking about them, and can go a long way toward making their day a little better.
My mom has always been really great about taking people a meal during times of need, and she’s really good at it. I’ve tried to learn from her, and have added a few things of my own over the years, so here are a few suggestions to make it better for everyone involved:
- Deliver the meal in disposable dishes. Chances are you’re delivering a meal in the first place because of something major (usually stressful) going on. Don’t add to that stress by causing someone to worry about getting your dishes back to you, or worry about breaking them. The bonus for you is that you don’t have to worry about when you’re getting your favorite baking dish back.
- Find out what they like to eat, and about any food preferences, allergies, styles of eating, etc. If you’re close to the person you likely already know, but just ask if you don’t, or aren’t sure about the rest of the family. Some people aren’t comfortable telling you they don’t like a dish you suggest, so I’ve found it helpful to offer several choices. I usually do something like list five or six different things I can make for them and ask them to choose which one they’d like. People seem to be more comfortable saying something like “Spaghetti sounds good” than “We don’t eat ham”.
- Don’t stay too long when you deliver the meal. There’s no one good rule here, so you just have to use your best judgment. Keep in mind that if someone is recovering from surgery or has just had a new baby they’re likely tired, and may not be up for much of a visit. Be very mindful of any treatments (like chemotherapy) that can compromise someone’s immune system. It may be better to meet a family member somewhere and deliver the meal to them. Ask what is most convenient for them.
- Make sure you bring any necessary additions to the meal. If you’re delivering a meal to family members in a hospital or hospice, make sure you provide paper plates, utensils, napkins, drinks, etc. If you’re including salad bring a bottle or two of dressing, etc.
- If you’re worried about your culinary skills (or lack thereof) consider teaming up with a friend or co-worker to deliver a meal. It might seem less overwhelming if the job is divided between two people.
Delivering a meal to someone during a time of need is great way to show you care about them. Don’t stress out about it. They will likely appreciate the fact that you care every bit as much as they will enjoy the meal.