Those first three months… sometimes five months when you have a newborn. Those weeks following the death of a family member. The spinning of unsettledness in a new home. The processing and healing after a miscarriage. The craziness of a season of difficulty. A stay in the hospital. The aftermath of a separation or divorce. The first trimester of a pregnancy. The ins and outs of Depression. Your mind. Your mind is muddled. The things you cared about, you know those things that people around you are talking, writing, pinning, and making plans about… yeah, those things, you really could care less about. And what’s even more maddening is that you’re frustrated at yourself for not caring because normally you do but you can’t muster it up within you. So you find yourself heaping more of a burden on yourself because you shouldn’t still feel like this. You should be at least making it through today… and you can’t seem to do even that.
It’s true. Many of us have been there. Many of us have done just that. Many of us want to hug you as you’re going through it now. Hopefully many of us want to bring you a meal.
My mother in love said the other day “I haven’t cooked in weeks. I don’t have any desire to and usually I do this time of year.” I said, “Judy, you’re grieving your dad. It hasn’t even been a month since he died. That’s totally normal for you to be feeling that way.” So the next time we got coffee I got her a slice of Starbucks pumpkin loaf. Oh that bread… it’s divine! It can soothe an aching heart if but for a few moments. A few days later I had a whole loaf of homemade pumpkin bread made by her very hands. It’s not that she’s not grieving anymore, it’s just she’s slowly feeling like herself again…. one recipe at a time.
From losing a child to bringing home 5 babies in 5 years. I have been the blessed recipient of many meals from incredible people. Here are a few tips I’ve discovered from those experiences.
1.Sign up or Make a Meal Train using these awesome sites that you can email and have ALL the info on it for the ones receiving meals, time frames, dietary needs, even shows what others are bringing them so that they don’t get 3 days of chicken pot pie in a row.
Here are a few of my favorite ones to use.
2. When you make someone a meal, if you’re a good friend or live close by use your own dishes/pans. If you’re not sure when you’ll see them again, take it over there in disposable or reusable containers they can keep or throw away. I try to keep about 5-6 of those .99 bags that are super sturdy (I get mine from TJ MAxx or Joann Fabrics) and then when I need to take something to someone I can use something I know won’t break on me and something they can keep and reuse.
3. If the family has children bring dinner over earlier rather than later. We can usually hold off for an hour or two to eat… but kiddos normally can’t.
4. If you’re not a cook. Bring them over a few bags of groceries. (It’s almost just as hard to make it to the store as it is to cook, so bring a rotisserie chicken, a pasta salad from the deli, some berries, a bag of apples, eggs, can of biscuits, muffin mixes, Cookies,) That’s been super helpful when someone has done that for us in the past.
5. If you’re not sure you can even make it to a grocery story, Order dinner from a restaurant, email or call them with their menu and tell them to pick out dinner and you’ll pay for it. Restaurants like Chili’s or Outback or even a local burger joint are great ideas for these type of meals. This can really come in handy if you’re serving a family who is vegan or has dietary needs and you can ask them what restaurant they like to go to. It’s often easier than finding a recipe that fits their needs if you’re not used to cooking that way.
6. If you can, bring something easy for breakfast the next day as well. This can be a quick batch of muffins, or a box of waffles or eggs and biscuits and a container of OJ. That takes even more pressure off to have things together the next day. It’s so helpful!!
7. Bring them their favorite beverage or bottled water. Ask them if they drink alcohol. Rarely will someone put on a meal train or a church meal list Bring Wine or Beer!! But sometimes that is something that can add a relaxing touch to their dinner.
8. If you can’t bring a meal… be the afternoon Godsend!!! After losing Asher, I had a friend who every wednesday afternoon would come by and bring me a Cinnabon Roll (heaven in a roll!!) and a little vase of flowers. For weeks she did that, and you know what… during a time where I often didn’t know or care what day it was I started looking forward to Wednesdays. It was healing. Sometimes bringing someone Starbucks mid afternoon would be just what they needed to make it the next few hours when going through a hard day. Don’t ask them can you bring them anything… just text them and say “Are you home? If so, What’s your Starbucks drink of choice?” And go… bless them a ton and it only takes a few dollars and a few minutes of your time.
9. IF… only IF they welcome you to stay and eat with them or visit for a little bit…. don’t stay too long. Sometimes muddled minds need company. Sometimes they want to share a meal with friends. So that’s important but it’s kind of like recovering from surgery. You start to feel a little better and then often over do it and you forget how exhausting normal everyday stuff is when you’re healing. So stay… just leave about an hour earlier than you think you should.
10. Have a few go-to recipes you like to use for Meal Trains and stock up on a few of the things that you need but not might keep around. For me it’s brown gravy sauce. My go-to recipe is Meatballs and rice. THE BEST Meatballs and Rice you’ve ever had. It’s pure comfort food. But when I go to the store instead of picking up 2-3 packs of sauce… I try to buy 10. They don’t take up much space and it’s something I know I have when the time comes. It’s easier to have my husband grab a big thing of ground beef than send him searching for gravy packets too.
Check out MY PINTEREST Board of Meal Train Ideas!
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