I recently took on a new volunteer position with my church leading a meal hospitality team. This is my lane, friends. I love serving others in a tangible way with a meal. The purpose is simply to help someone in need by providing a ready-made meal. In times of need, it is an incredible blessing to see a friendly face and receive a meal.
In our busy, fast-food, and frantic society, we’ve lost the art of a home-cooked meal and the joy it can bring by sharing it with others. I have a heart for in-home hospitality, but let’s chat about the why and how to serve others in a life-changing situation. When a friend is in need, everyone wonders, “What can I do to help?” One answer is to provide a meal!
Serving others with a meal is a wonderful way to show love and encouragement to a family who could use some support. From a death in the family, surgery, unexpected job loss, or birth of a baby, you can practically serve others.
You can easily put together an organized meal delivery using a few methods. I am going to share my favorite way!
Organizing meal delivery
Meal Train is popular website that helps you plan, organize, and schedule meal deliveries for a family in need. It is truly so simple and easy, doing it any other way would waste a lot of time, and I am not into that!
If you’re the one organizing for a family in need, here’s how to get started.
Set up a Meal Train
It’s very simple. You can set up the service in minutes, then you can share the link by text or social media and have people sign up for specific dates to bring a meal.
Find out the family’s details
Get their address, how many people you will be feeding, and the duration of time. Typically I suggest a week’s worth of meals for a time of loss, 5 days for a surgical procedure, 14 days for an extended medical condition and/or new baby.
Ask about allergies and intolerances, likes and dislikes
Ask if they have any dietary restrictions or if there are particular foods they prefer or avoid. This is important and you can list these in the meal train for those helping to fulfill the need.
Determine drop-off options
I like to have meals dropped off by 5 p.m. the day of. A quick text from the person delivering the meal with the time it will be dropped off is always appreciated. I prefer to deliver the meal or leave it on the porch; talk about what works best for the person receiving it.
Meal delivery tips
When you are serving others with a meal and ask for volunteers, it’s great to give some suggestions with these tips.
Use disposable containers
The last thing a family needs to do is wash and return dishes. So use disposable containers or be sure to explain that the dishes are theirs to keep and reuse. You can buy simple dishes at second-hand stores or use disposable. I share some of my favorite ones to have on hand here.
Choose a meal that is easy to reheat
The family may not know ahead of time if they will be away or overwhelmed with food on your meal delivery day. So pick a recipe that can be frozen and reheated while still tasting great.
Here are 55+ comforting recipes that are easy to make.
List the ingredients for each item
Include a detailed list of all ingredients; this helps to address any potential allergens or dietary issues.
Make plenty of food
Be aware of the number of people in the family and anticipate the possibility that they may have relatives visiting. Bring enough food for the family plus some. They can always enjoy the leftovers for lunch the next day.
Double it up
Consider making a second meal to go into the freezer for a later date. This is by far my favorite practice as it gives me flexibility when a need occurs—I can have a meal prepared without adding extra time to my schedule.
Include any instructions
How to prep, heat, freeze, and/or reheat. Make it simple!
Don’t forget sides, dessert, and perhaps drinks
Craft a well-rounded meal by including tasty sides, then finish it off with a touch of sweetness. I love adding some homemade cookies or a bag of my favorite chocolate-covered almonds! I often will grab a salad mix if I have made a casserole, simple for them to toss and eat.
Add a personal touch
Write a note wishing them a great recovery or letting them know you are praying for them during this time. Giving a bible verse in the note is a wonderful encouragement. Add anything more that you feel could brighten their day.
Popular meal recipes
I love batch cooking, as I stated above. These recipes are easy to make and to double and triple in size and have available.
- White Chicken Chili
- Instant Pot Beef Stew Casserole
- Salsa Stewed Beef and Rice
- Layered Shepherd’s Pie Casserole
- Instant Pot Butter Chicken
- Vegetarian Enchilada Casserole
- Pan Roasted Chicken and Vegetables
- Slow Cooked Barbacoa Beef Tacos
I know that a seemingly simple gesture such as serving others with a meal can make a huge difference in the lives of those around us. Bringing a meal serves a need to nourish the body, often when it is not the top priority. We can love well when we share with others.