Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Taking Them a Meal

5 weeks ago I had a baby. 5 weeks prior to having a baby I was put on bedrest.

The people in our church have loved on us and blessed us beyond measure. Almost immediately after news was out that I was on bedrest, a list was started, people started signing up, and meals started being delivered. Not only did they bring meals, they came over and cleaned my house, helped me clean out the room that was going to be the nursery, and even took things to Goodwill for me.

One week after having the baby (family was here for a week to take care of us), the meals picked back up.

I totaled it up and we have had 8 weeks worth of meals delivered to us, 3 times a week. Again, I cannot stress what a blessing it has been to have this.

Now I'm a prideful person and really didn't want to let people help me, especially when I was on bedrest, but thankfully, these people know us and love us and wouldn't take no for an answer. I've always been honest on here so I need to tell you that for the past two years or so (since I started back to work), I've been terrible about bringing meals to people, even people I'm friends with. I didn't have time to cook for my own family, much less someone else's. After people taking such good care of us, I am ashamed of myself. I was always too busy or didn't have time or they lived "too far" from our know, across town. Even when I did take a meal to someone, I did it terribly. One person I cooked two bags of one of those skillet meals (the frozen ones) to take. Another person I even took them two pans of Pizza Hut pasta. I don't think there is anything wrong with taking people already prepared meals, but I do think there was something wrong with my attitude and laziness regarding the situation. I am ashamed.

Never again will that happen. In fact, I've even made Hubs promise me he wouldn't let me make ANY excuse the next time someone needs a meal, or their house vacuumed, or their laundry folded.

With all these people bringing us meals, I had several moments when I thought, "What an awesome idea!" Because of this, I have decided to make a list of suggestions and ideas (mostly for myself) for the next time someone needs a meal. Feel free to use these yourself, share them with others, or even pin it if you feel like it is worthy of that. Please keep in mind, these are just things I saw when people brought us a meal and I wanted to remember the good ideas. This does not mean I wasn't INCREDIBLY grateful for anything and everything people brought us, but really it is just tips for myself for the future.

First of all, disposable containers are such a blessing. Don't get me wrong, people (myself included) will be extremely grateful for whatever you bring them, but it seems that everyone has the same kind of tupperware and it is really difficult to remember which container belongs to which person and there is the added bonus that the person doesn't have to worry about the clean up.

Second, speaking of dishes, throw in some paper plates and plastic utensils. We had so many people do this for us and it was such a blessing to be able to just throw everything away and be done with it.

Third, if you have time, put the recipe(s) with each container, so that when they LOVE what you brought them (they will!), they can store the recipe and make it at a later time for their family. Plus, the added bonus is that if they have any kind of allergy or are just curious about what all is in it, they have the list of ingredients at the tip of their fingers. This doesn't have to take a lot of time. If you got the recipe off pinterest, just print a copy of it and throw it in with the stuff you are bringing. If it is a family recipe (or one you just have on a recipe card), you can use your printer/copier/scanner (if you have one) and make a quick copy. The same thing would go if you got it out of a cook book, just make a copy.

Here is an adorable printable package you can get to go with the meal you are bringing: Gifting Dinner Printable Package

Another awesome idea is if the recipe makes a fairly large dish, use two smaller containers; one for now and one to freeze for later when the meals stop coming. On the frozen one, be sure to write what the dish is and the cooking instructions because it may be a while before they get to it and they might forget.I still have probably two weeks worth of meals in my freezer thanks to our amazing church family.

If you bring a salad, throw in a bottle of dressing too. They may have their own favorite that they'd prefer to use, but they might not have any dressing on hand, or in our case, what they have might have expired in 2007...LOL.

If you know the mom is nursing, feel free to bring a higher calorie meal. If the mom is bottle-feeding, you might want to skip bringing something slathered in mayonaise or grease. We never had an issue with this and I wouldn't have turned ANYTHING away, but it is a nice idea to remember. We had several people ask if we wanted something a little healthier or if it mattered and to me, at that point, food was food and as long as it wasn't McDonald's, I'd gladly eat it.

People usually bring a main dish, some sort of veggie (usually a salad), and a dessert (cookies, brownies, or my favorite-rice krispy treats). A couple of people were so thoughtful and also included something we/I could have for breakfast. Now this doesn't mean you also have to throw together a breakfast casserole along with all the other stuff you are cooking. Our Pastor's wife brought us a bag of bagels, a thing of cream cheese, and some fresh fruit. Several other people brought us muffins of various varieties. It doesn't need to be anything difficult.

We even had several people bring us a gallon of tea. Now, with us being as southern as we are, we were overjoyed to have tea delivered to us. Now, not to brag, but I make some almost perfect sweet tea, so I think I would just make some and throw it in a jug to take over instead of buying some at Publix, but if you are in a hurry, some from the supermarket would work just fine, especially if you live where you can buy a gallon of Milo's sweet tea.

Also, most people have gone to using . If your group/person is using this site, go look at what the others who are signed up for that week are bringing. Now often, it will say TBD (to be determined) but if the other people for that week are all bringing chicken, maybe you should make something with beef or pork. Again, they will be so thankful for whatever you bring, but it is something to consider.

If you are taking a gift for the baby (which is not necessary) and there is an older sibling, you might consider taking something small for the sibling too. So many people were so sweet to include our Ansleigh. It doesn't have to be anything big or flashy--just something to show that you remember the other kid exists too.

Second (and third) time moms, often have a little bit of an easier time than first time moms. I think it has something to do with knowing what to expect and having a little experience. But just because they already have one child, doesn't mean they don't need help. I am learning that with two, there is a fine balance in making sure both kids have what they need, are taken care of, and are both getting plenty of your attention.

If you are going to have a little bit of extra time, ask the mom if there is anything you can do to help around the house. Most of us don't want to clean our own house, much less someone else's house, but it doesn't take long to wipe down the counters for them or run the vacuum over the main living space. I would NEVER have asked anyone to clean my house for me, and even when they asked, I often said there was nothing to do, but I was blessed just by the offer. Plus, most people that wanted to clean for me knew me and knew I would say no so they just came in and washed the dishes in the sink really quickly or grabbed a Clorox wipe and wiped down the counters.

Everyone, even stay-at-home moms (who sometimes have a little more time to cook), are busy. Sometimes taking someone a meal can seem like a lot of work that we often don't have the time for. If you can plan ahead for a few of these little extra things, it might make it easier to do a little more. And a lot of people need to bring the kids with them when they drop the meal off so don't feel bad if you can't clean up for them. No one expects someone to bring them a meal and clean their house, but it can be an added blessing so if you can plan ahead to maybe have the hubs watch the kids, you might have time for it. Or, bring the whole family along. We LOVED it when the doorbell rang and the whole family was there for a quick visit. I'd have people stay hours if they could have so they company was a wonderful blessing as well.

If you really do not have time, or are going to be out of town, or there is some other reason why you can't help out, grab a gift card to a local restaurant and put it in the mail for them. We got a couple of gift cards and are using them now. It is awesome to be able to get out of the house for a meal and not have to pay (or not have to pay as much).

Hopefully you will enjoy these tips and someone will be as blessed as we have been, and hopefully, I'll be able to return the blessing to someone soon.