It’s no surprise that I enjoy cooking and as a result, it’s probably no surprise to anyone that I enjoy cooking for others. It’s a long running joke that I basically push food on people like a grandmother would; the only difference being that I don’t have all the wrinkles (yet). So, it’s probably also no surprise that when a friend fractured her foot on Easter, I quickly messaged her to see if we could bring her family dinner so she would have time to rest and stay off her foot. She accepted (yay!) and I found myself in the kitchen Tuesday morning cooking and prepping a meal to take that would give her husband the night off and hopefully allow them to relax a bit.
To be honest, it’s been awhile since I’ve had the opportunity to deliver a meal to anyone and as a result, I spent a lot of time making sure I wasn’t forgetting anything or was being as thoughtful about the meal as possible. Here are my top 7 tips for YOU so you can use all your energy for cooking! 😀
- Ask about allergies or dietary restrictions. Trust me – as a nearly 20-year vegetarian, I appreciate when people ask what I can eat! If you find yourself with a response that you feel is really limiting (“We can’t have gluten, dairy, anything red, orange, green or purple.”), ask what their favorite meals are and plan to bring one of those.
- Aim for simple! Now is not the time to cook a beef wellington! Depending on the circumstances, even a loaf of handmade bread and sandwich meat, cheese and fixings can be perfect. Remember to cook according to circumstances – if a family is busy, you don’t want to delivery a fussy meal to them.
- Be savvy. Prepare a meal that can also be frozen. If your plans include preparing a casserole or lasagna, think ahead and package the meal in a container that can be frozen and include instructions for freezing and reheating. They’ll appreciate tiny details like that and it’ll allow them to make the most of your generosity.
- Do a little extra. I love going the extra mile so why should this be any different? If you committed to bring dinner, bring a small dessert, too. Or, think ahead and prepare a small breakfast item. (Think muffins (either sweet or savory), bacon wrapped eggs, frittatas, quiches. A lot of breakfast items are freezable and reheat really well!) This time, I included a quiche lorraine (and included reheating instructions) so that they’d have breakfast the next day, too.
- Deliver your meal in containers you don’t need back. Plastic tupperware containers and aluminum pans are really inexpensive and make great delivery vehicles. When you drop off your meal, make sure you mention you don’t need your containers back. If you do, it’s best to let them know. Even a simple, “I can be here at noon tomorrow to pickup my gratin dish. Do you mind leaving it outside?” works.
- When you deliver the meal, don’t overstay your welcome. Use that time to check in on everyone to see if they need anything else, but definitely don’t overstay! Remember, if you’re taking a meal to someone, they need the help – not the interference!
- Make a calendar reminder to followup. This one is a personal touch, but set a reminder on your calendar to check in with your friends after a week or so. Families are used to being helped a lot during a crisis but once that point passes, families often find themselves dealing with the aftermath weeks later. (Or, take a meal to a new mama where she’s often just home from the hospital and overwhelmed. In a week or two after the new baby excitement wears off, she may need help more than ever!) I often get sidetracked by other things, so I immediately set a reminder on my calendar to touch base with that friend after a week or two. See if there’s anything they still need help with or volunteer to pop over to help with cleaning or bringing another meal. Your friends will appreciate your thoughtfulness.
So, there you have it! My top 7 tips for bringing meals to others. Did I leave anything out? What are your favorite tips? What meals do you love preparing for others?