After just recovering from having a baby and then having major surgery I have been on the receiving end of a lot of help from others. Last Friday Jessica Turner did a great post on tips for when you’re preparing meals for others. We had meals coming to us for over two months and I learned SO MUCH from my friends. Things that really helped our family that I want to make sure to do when I’m trying to help a family in need. These are some of the kind things people did for us that I want to remember…
-If you’re the person in charge of scheduling meals, schedule them for every other night. People always make such a delicious big meal and there are almost always leftovers. It’s so nice to have the meals spread out so you can enjoy and eat everything.
-Call ahead and let them know about when you’ll be by. Obviously when people are bringing you food you are so appreciative that you don’t care when they bring it, but everyone was so kind to call or e-mail me and ask when a good time for us was or what time did I usually feed my kids. I ended up being so grateful for that because then I wasn’t upstairs bathing the girls or feeding Kole right when they came by. It also allowed me to, ya know, have the spit up wiped off my shirt ahead of time.
-Take something for the kids. So many people either made “kid friendly” meals for us or if they didn’t, they brought sides that my kids would like…rolls, fruit, some plain pasta with butter, etc. This was so nice. I never would have thought to do that. Little kids are always picky (mine are the worst!) and it was great to feed them with the meal too.
– Take-out is a great option. I had several good friends and neighbors who knew restaurants I liked and picked up take-out for us instead of cooking a meal. This was such a treat! It was also a light bulb moment for me. Why have I not been doing this all along!? Kenny will be bummed because the times I take others meals are some of the few times I actually cook. But let’s be honest here – something I’ve cooked isn’t helping anyone out anyway.
-Team up with a friend. Some of my friends made a meal together. One made the main dish and another did the salad, bread/rolls/rice, and dessert or vise versa. Great way to still take a nice meal even if you don’t have time to make everything yourself.
-Wait until things have calmed down. One thing my friends and I have talked about is how nice it is to have a meal brought by awhile after you have had a baby. (I was REALLY blessed this way because we had meals brought after I had Kole and again after I had surgery.) Right after you have a baby your family is usually in town and you are on a high from meeting your sweet newborn. Then reality check. All of the sudden the baby is 6-8 weeks old and fussy and your family and help are gone and you haven’t slept well for 3 months (because end of pregnancy is so freakin‘ uncomfortable!) and you feel like at any moment you may lose it. This is always a nice time for someone to bring a meal. :)
-If you don’t have time to make a meal, you can still do something to help. So many people sent me flowers or brought by dessert or treats. Friends brought by magazines to read while I was on the couch recovering. One friend sent me my own copy of New Moon. :) Another brought by my favorite lemonade, some cookies, and a Care Bear DVD for my girls to watch. So thoughtful! I turned on the movie for the girls when Kole was sleeping, ate a cookie, drank some lemonade and instantly felt better. Friends brought coloring books for the kids and picked up groceries and things I needed from the grocery store and Target. Another friend dropped off her 12 year old daughter several afternoons to play with and entertain my girls. Such a huge help to me and something my girls really looked forward to. I can’t tell you how many times I got home and found something like this on my doorstep –
some type of treat or little pick me up gift. Everything meant so much to me and was such a huge help. I made a note to myself that if I don’t have time to make a meal for someone, there are lots of ways to help and show you care.
-Last little lesson I learned…when people are going to be bringing in a lot of meals to your house, teach your family appropriate, appreciative behavior. One night a friend was bringing dinner and had called to tell me she was running late. Kenny got home from work and I said “so and so is bringing us dinner but is running a little late so we can wait to bathe the girls.” Kenny (totally kidding around and being his usual sarcastic self) made some joke about how she really needed to be on time because he was hungry. I rolled my eyes and he laughed at himself and we didn’t think a thing of it. So 20 minutes later my friend arrives and Ellie answers the door and says “Why are you so late!!? We’re hungry!” I could – have – died! As soon as my friend left I pulled the kids aside and reviewed what is and isn’t appropriate to say when someone brings a meal. Then I pulled Kenny aside and reviewed what is and isn’t appropriate to say in front of the kids. Nice.
Taking someone a meal is such a generous thing to do. The meals people brought us seriously saved us over the last two months (and they all tasted so good!). We were beyond grateful and incredibly touched by the kindness that was shown to our family. I can’t wait to return the favor by remembering the tips above and doing the same for someone else. There are a lot of good people in the world and I thank God every day that I’m surrounded by so many of them.
16 thoughts on “Taking dinner to a family”
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This is an incredibly helpful list with some great suggestions. Laughed at the end … we’ve been there with our kids (and husbands!)
After having my first baby…we were waiting and waiting for the meal to come. Finally, at 7:00 pm when I hadn’t heard anything, we ordered pizza. Just a few bites into it there was a knock at the door. We quickly hid the pizza and turned on a fan and tried to look really hungry. Everyone is doing the best they can. And Erin…it is easy to be nice to someone as gracious as you:)
What great tips! Thanks for sharing. When I had my daughter one incredibly thoughtful friend brought me dinner on my first day back at work (12 weeks later). It was SO wonderful because it was a really hard day. :)
That is a really great list, thank you! Love that last story–so funny–well at least to an outsider! :)
These are great tips! Sometimes that is hard about the blogging world…I would have totally brought you a meal (but Ohio is a little far!). I loved getting meals after I had my son and I love taking meals to my friends when they need it. Glad to see you have such a support system!
This list couldn’t have come at a more perfect time! I am scheduled to bring dinner to a friend tomorrow night. I love the idea of take-out! That would be such a treat and less work for me :)
I think I’ll still make a homemade dessert so I can have some too! Wow.. I am sounding super selfish in this comment. Thanks for the tips!
Thanks for the reminders!!!! We all have room for improvement!!!! Another thing (that I think I learned from my MIL) is to take paper and plastic so the family doesn’t have to do dishes!!!! Great post!!!!
Ok, I would have died too if one of my kids had said that! Way to go, Kenny! Hope he learned his lesson! I hope it was a really good friend too! :) This is a great post Erin! I am just so thankful that you had so many good friends and ward members taking care of you- all the while I was worrying about you and wishing I could do something for you! Glad you love getting mail! :)
What a GREAT post! I really want to remember the tip of bringing kid-friendly foods! One thing I learned when helping out a friend in need is to just do it. Don’t want for the friend in need to ask for help.
and I am still going to bring you dinner when everyone has forgotten about you. but kole may be six months by then.
That is such a great list. We were blessed with 3 weeks of great meals by family and friends after Joy Lynn was born and you are right… It is such a blessing!
That is a great list, Erin! I am horrible at taking dinner, so I always opt for the take out or the restaurant gift card so they can use it when they want.
It’s about time for another dinner from me too….
And this time I will remember the ‘kid friendly’ part. STILL haven’t forgiven myself for forgetting last time.
I am Kath’s sister and love your blog…it’s so positive and fun to read! I too have had many dinners brought in over the last 3 months due to a hard pregnancy/baby in NICU etc. one thing some friends did for me is to bring in freezer meals to stick in my freezer for the time when no one was bringing dinner. Such a great idea..one that I will be repeating myself!
Hi! I’m a recent finder of your blog (project life related!). I should have made a first comment on a recent post – and you might not see this one anyway – but I wanted to add one more piece of advice:
*As the food giver, try your best to use disposable/throw away type containers.
My son was in the NICU for almost 2 months (he has Down syndrome and had several surgeries) – when we got home, it was so wonderful of those from church and husband’s work to bring us meals! However, I admit – though I do feel bad admiting this – it was kind of a pain having to return all those dishes. I know that sounds so ungrateful of me and truly it wasn’t a big deal to wash and track down all those people to return dishes, but now when I take meals, I use the aluminum casserole dishes. If I make a side salad, I even put that in a gallon ziploc bag! Especially for those getting meals because of illness, surgery don’t have one more thing they have to do!
However, I would have gladly washed some dishes this time with our second baby…somehow we were totally forgotten and never got a single meal from our ward (different one from last time):( Oh well, now I really know what’s it’s like to feel forgotten and I try my best to not let anyone else feel forgotten!