January 24, 2012

Food With Thought …

Occasionally I get the chance to cook a meal for another family whose mom is out of commission due to a new baby or illness in the home. I’ve done it enough now to have a little routine down.  Here’s how I make it easy on me and hopefully tasty for them:

1. Keep the menu simple.  I have a picky eater at my house. I know what it’s like when someone else brings us a meal that my children aren’t used to. They get all weird and unsure and suddenly their appetites disappear. So when I cook meals for other families, I make “normal food” instead of trying to get all gourmet up in their faces. My rule of thumb: NO WEIRD INGREDIENTS!

2. Check for food allergies. I don’t need to be responsible for sending someone to the ER! A simple phone call will let me know if I need to leave any ingredients out or on the side.

3. Use throwaway containers. I long ago abandoned sending my own dishes to another’s home.  Who wants to wash, and then remember return all those dishes? Not me! I stock up on foil pans from Costco or Gladware from Target and let the mom know she can keep it all or toss it out when she’s done.

4. Make it healthy. Sometimes when mom’s out of commission, healthy eating goes out the window too.  I try to include fresh fruit, a big salad, a main dish {lasagna this time}, a loaf of bread or rolls and of course, a special treat for after dinner. I buy some of these items prepared like bread or take & bake cookies and try to make the rest from scratch because I think kids miss ‘home cooking’ when mom is otherwise engaged.

5. Have recipes at the ready. I keep a mental list of main dish recipes for taking a meal in to other families – homemade spaghetti sauce, lasagna, chicken & rice casserole, chicken enchiladas. These are the old standbys. They’re yummy, easy to prepare and normal {see Number 1}.

6. Give Mom options. When arranging to deliver the meal, I give the mom a few options – would she like me to bring it hot and ready to eat at a specific time or would she rather bake the main dish herself so she can determine the best time for her family. Basically I want to know what is going to make her life easier.

7. Always double it.  If I’m cooking dinner for one family, I might as well make it for my own too.  I just turn the kitchen into a meal production plant and get ‘er done – two of everything. It’s one of the only times I have dinner ready for my family by the middle of the afternoon, which is really awesome. Then my kitchen looks like this, which is not as awesome. But dinner is on the table for a mom in need, so it’s all good. {Yes, I used scissors to cut the lasagna noodles which were too big for the pan!}

So that’s how I do it.  What’s your go to meal for a friend in need?

PS. I didn’t write this post to say “Hey, look at me, I make dinners for other people because I’m so service oriented and awesome like that.” I wrote it to say “Hey, making dinner for someone else can be easy if you get a routine down and just do it!”

PPS. Let’s play I Spy. Do you see the toothbrush?


Apis Melliflora said...

I follow the same 6 steps as you when I make & take to others. I also add some chocolates and, if for a non-LDS family with a new Mom, I try to include a bottle of Great Lakes beer for the Dad.

My standards are rotisserie chicken & cheesy noodles; Vegetarian Red Sauce Penne or Pasta whistles with ham & peas. Always a salad & fresh fruit.

The Queen Vee said...

Excellent advice, DF.

TracyS. said...

My favorite recipes to send are homemade soup and a loaf of crusty bread and salad. Unfortunately, I am not so good at doubling recipes. A few times I have dropped off a meal with a friend (yesterday, in fact) and then came home to eat the same thing with my family only realize the sad truth: It only works if you double ALL of the ingredients:)

Great tips, I'll have to give them a try next time.

Kernal Ken said...

Toothbrush: between the envelope and the right hand jar of sauce.

Bells said...

I like to engage another friend of the family to help and we split up the meal making, that's a little easier sometimes. I have also made up freezer meals and have a stash ready to go. I ask them if they want this to go into your freezer to heat up at your leisure or do you prefer it piping hot at 6pm? Some go to meals have been teriyaki chicken and rice, spaghetti and meatballs, pulled pork sandwiches and the crock pot stand by of creamy italian chicken, ground beef stroganoff is easy too.

Apis Melliflora said...

Talked to a friend yesterday who was taking dinner to a new Mom & family and she was planning on ordering take-out for the family.

Here's what I love about that: even if you're crunched for time or don't feel like cooking that day, you can still find a way to reach out to a family in need.

Aiketa said...

hahahah I loved your P.S! ;)

I like the idea of helping someone in need by bringing them food. Here, though, it's not that common nowadays. But from time to time, it happens.