Kitchen Stewardship | A Baby Steps Approach to Balanced Nutrition

Eat Well, Spend Less: The Gift of a Meal

July 19th, 2011 · 43 Comments · Frugality

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The gift of food is often the greatest gift to receive.

It doesn’t cause clutter.

It saves the recipient time and money, and lends itself to a nice, peaceful evening.

It (had better) taste great, and palate-pleasing never hurt anyone.

It covers many of the 5 Love Languages: is a gift of service, affords the person more quality time to spend with their loved ones, and is certainly a gift in and of itself, which also allows the regular cook in the house to give a gift to the rest of the family: a good meal. (photo credit)

This month’s Eat Well, Spend Less theme is entertaining and hospitality on a budget, and while other gals will help you throw a great party, I get to share my thoughts on sharing meals.

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An Opportunity to Serve

Many moms are too busy to devote time to a regular volunteer project, and moms of very young children may actually be working against their vocation if they try to be involved in too much outside the home. For moms who used to serve their church or society often before they became mothers, though, there can be a feeling of uselessness or emptiness while home raising the littlest ones.

Sharing a meal with another, whether the person is ill, homebound, grief-stricken, or has a newborn baby (would that be “all of the above”?), is a perfect act of service for another mother to undertake. Besides that, delivering the meal gets everybody out of the house and often affords a little face-to-face interaction with another adult, a nice perk.

On the other hand, making a meal to share is something that anyone of any age or status can do, and sharing a homemade meal is truly a gesture of love and kindness.

I’ve been a mom for six years now, and I’m certain I’ve taken dozens of meals (a hundred?) to other new moms and people in need. Our moms’ Bible study always organizes meals for new moms, so that outlet alone can keep me busy. At one point a few years ago, I knew sixteen pregnant women at one time!

I’m definitely in the stage of life where I have the opportunity to serve my God and my friends by sharing the gift of real food.

This post is sponsored by Plan to Eat, an online meal planning system to simplify your cooking and food shopping.

What do I Make When I Share a Meal?

If you often have the opportunity to share a meal, I highly recommend making a master list of your best “meals to share” that fit the “travel-worthy” criteria. It totally helps the brainstorming phase when it’s time to sign up for a list for a new mom or ill friend. Some people I know always bring one of two dishes, which makes the decision-making process easier, too!

If you’re lucky enough to be using an online meal-planning service like Plan to Eat, you can tag meals that are easy to take to others as you think of it or as you enter the recipe, and then when the time comes, just click that tag and you’re presented with a list of dishes from which to choose. Refine by the ingredients you have on hand and what’s in season, which Plan to Eat will also help you do, and you’re in business!

Here’s my personal list of meals to share:

  • Chicken Barley Leek Soup – took to a mama just a day or two before she gave birth to twins and a friend with cancer and felt great about nourishing their bodies for a day!
    leek soup 1
    I just uploaded this recipe to the Plan to Eat database – if you have an account, click HERE to save it to your recipe book, or grab the 30-day free trial and use this recipe to see what it’s like. The “bulk ingredient upload” makes adding recipes really, really fast. Just be sure not to copy and paste straight from a website without permission. Write your own directions and take your own photos.
  • Salad with Grilled Chicken – a great summer dish, especially for a mama who only has the newborn babe and no other possibly picky children to feed. “Fill the grill” with marinated chicken and bring it cold with as many cut, fresh vegetables as you can muster. Try a new homemade dressing to go with it!
  • Buttered Noodles for the picky kids – if you know you’ve got a family whose kids only eat white foods or fast food or pancakes and pasta, go with it. Bring a zippered bag full of cooked pasta, some butter and Parmesan cheese. This isn’t the time to preach nutrition, and at least you can serve Mom and Dad healthy adult food this way.
  • Cream of Vegetable Soup – so simple and inexpensive to make, you can use this as a side or main dish. Add cheese (I like sharp cheddar) and ham or chicken to make it a really full meal.
    image
  • Tuscan Bean Soup – another super inexpensive meal; pretty much requires grilled cheese sandwiches, though, so be sure your recipient has someone in the house who can grill them (provide bread and sliced cheese plus other fillings like tomatoes or mushrooms).
  • Three Bean Soup – one friend asked for this recipe after her bean-hating kids gobbled it up! A hearty side or sandwich fills out the meal, or even tortillas and wrap fillings for make-your-own.
  • Turkey Vegetable Chili – heavy on the vegetables, but generally kid-friendly if they’re not too particular.
  • Katie’s Healthy Chili – the basic chili; be sure to shoot low on the spices unless you know the family’s tastes.
  • Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup – you probably already have your favorite recipe, but make sure you use homemade chicken stock for nourishment and cost savings.
  • Garlic Soup – focus on this one for those who are feeling under the weather. Sixteen cloves of garlic will give them a good start on the way to feeling better!
  • Katie’s Simple Cabbage Soup with Secret Super Food – not for everyone, but for families with a depth of palate, this soup is a great summer/fall soup with farmer’s market veggies.
  • Black Bean Soup -  simple and loved by all. Bring a small carton of sour cream and a big old bag of quality tortilla chips for dipping with this one. Quesadillas are another excellent side option.
  • Veggie Bean Burritos – an easy meal to take in glass jars and allow the family to assemble. Also a good gluten free option to take with brown rice. Be sure to include assembly instructions.
  • Homemade Chicken Nuggets – I brought these to a friend who already had three little ones running around, along with Homemade Baked French Fries and rolls. I wanted everyone to love the food yet have real ingredients coming in the house!
  • Sausage, Beans and Kale Soup – I’ve taken this one twice to a friend who I knew wouldn’t be scared of green things floating in her soup!
  • Sausage Zucchini Bake – easy to assemble ahead of time and very well-liked by anyone I’ve ever shared it with, including kids. Plus, it’s not a superbly time-intensive meal to make and uses fresh summer ingredients.
  • Easy Chicken & Biscuits Casserole – to make ahead, you have to bake the casserole and bring the biscuit dough separately with assembly instructions.

You probably noticed a lot of soups. Because soups are easy to double, usually cost-efficient and so easy to transport and reheat, I bet 80-90% of the meals I share end up being soups, usually with rolls or biscuits and a salad. And yes, even in the summer. Some soups are perfect with fresh summer produce!

Easy side dishes to share:

sprouted whole wheat rolls (2) (475x356)

Sharing Meals Philosophy

My system has refined itself over the years as I’ve transitioned to a healthier “real food” diet and gotten more savvy about meal sharing. I take a few things into account when I gift a meal to another family:

1. How much does the meal cost?

I don’t want to be stingy, but if I can keep the meal within a lowereatwellspendless_150 budget, I feel like I can be more generous with quantity, which is more fun on the part of the recipient. I used to take lasagna all the time because it seemed like (a) casseroles should be easiest to reheat and (b) it was a gift to take a meal that takes a lot of preparation, but then I priced it out at over $11 with all those cheeses and started to think better of that one!

Now I try to cut down on the meat, rev up the homemade foods, and generally be conscious of the cost of the meal I’m sharing.

In this light, I opt for things like:

  • soups
  • bean-based dishes
  • vegetarian fare
  • simple homemade bread or rolls

You can input the cost of each meal in Plan to Eat as you enter it to keep yourself accountable on this one.

2. How easy is the meal to reheat?

I want the dinner to taste as good as it did at my house and have, overall, very little hands-on time.

  • more soups!
  • simple casseroles that are easily made ahead
  • nothing like stir fry or fajitas
  • generally not things that require much assembly time
  • cold salads

3. Can I include a complete meal, not just a main course?

When we received meals after baby number two, I was always so happy when everything came along, from the salad to the sides. Receiving a main course only is still a wonderful gift, but then having to figure out what else to serve to round out the meal can be tricky if you don’t know what’s coming until late afternoon. I try to include:

  • a salad, even if it’s just lettuce, baby carrots, and maybe one other cut Christmas salad - smallerraw veggie (I usually hope that the family has dressing on hand but sometimes include some of my own homemade dressings)
  • appropriate sides, especially rolls or biscuits if I’m taking soup
  • cut fruit when I have some on hand
  • dessert is optional – our Bible study always includes dessert, but I’m thinking that the new moms are probably receiving more sweet treats than they (or their husbands) should probably have. I think I’ll skip dessert from now on and hope I’m not the black sheep!
  • A nursing nest treat just for mom, occasionally when inspired! I’ve included a small dish of homemade applesauce, a few homemade granola bars or power bars from Healthy Snacks to Go, a pumpkin muffin or even a special bag of cut cucumbers or something, just so mom has a quick snack to grab when baby is already screaming mad. I work with whatever I have on hand as if the person was visiting and I shared a mid-morning snack.

I also make sure that the day before I need to take a meal somewhere, our family’s dinner is that meal. I can just make double and it simplifies menu planning and prep/clean-up. That way I’m also very cognizant of what would complete the main course to finish out the meal since I have to do it in practice at our kitchen table.

4. How can I include nothing that needs to be returned?

I always like to take disposables only to the new moms, since returning dishes is not a task they need to be worrying about when they’re nursing 12 hours a day (or feeling like it). Try using the following to carry the food:

  • glass jars for soup (from spaghetti sauce or applesauce so you don’t need them back)
  • plastic zippered bags for salads, veggies, breads
  • plastic cottage cheese or yogurt tubs for other random foods – although I would hold back from including fatty or liquidy food in plastic. That’s what the jars are for.
  • aluminum casserole dishes, even though it goes against my green consciousness. I always just hope that the new mom will wash it and keep it for the next time she has to share a meal!

5. Are there any food allergies or dislikes?

I didn’t used to think of this, but now that I’m entrenched in food, it seems that every time I turn around someone has a food sensitivity or allergy. This question is worth asking, and encourage the recipient to be honest about big food dislikes, because in the end, you both want the meal to go over well.

UPDATE: A reader sent along this site, which helps organize schedules for meal blessings, including directions, allergies, no. of people, and calendar. How handy!!! It’s called Food Tidings.

Who’s Bringing Me a Meal?

This summer I’m probably more likely to be on the receiving end of meals than the giving end. I just missed a sharing a meal for a good friend’s 5th baby because we were so busy selling our house and moving our stuff…then moving in with the in-laws! I’m expecting my own third child in a few weeks, and this will mark my first baby since starting blogging and getting really into the real food thing.

Question:

Now that I’m a real food snob, do I put any restrictions on meals or just accept gratefully whatever comes? My husband possibly has a gluten sensitivity, but we’re by no means a gluten-free family. It would be easier, in a lot of ways, to tell people “no gluten, please, for DH’s sake” which would probably result in healthier meals overall – no pasta is a huge step in the right direction! But is it fair to ask others to leave the gluten out when they might catch us grabbing a pizza sometime?

I have been thinking of asking for “no desserts,” but I don’t want to offend anyone or seem hoity-toity. It just feels like that would be one less thing for gift-givers to do, which is always good, and it’s the desserts that will really, really get us with both gluten and sugar, most likely. My husband had terrible triglyceride scores at his physical a few months after baby two was born and we had gift meals three nights a week for almost three months.

Of course, my friends might not even be offering meals this time around since we’re living in a house with 4 adults capable of making dinners…so I might not even have to answer the “allergies/dislikes” question anyway! (Yep, I live with my in-laws temporarily…)

What do you think? Is it worth it to ask for special treatment or just eat and enjoy gift meals in moderation?

Later this week I’ll be sharing some of the quickie meals I’ve relied on during this transition time, and next week I get to share some new companies I’ve been discovering who make real food convenient, when you just don’t have time (or energy) to keep up in the kitchen. Everyone hits a stage in their lives when they need a little help, right?!

Watch for a round-up of all the Eat Well, Spend Less team’s entertaining and hospitality posts for some weekend coffee reading.

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43 Comments so far ↓

  • Jo-Lynne {Musings of a Housewife}

    What a great post, Katie. I do offer to bring meals from time to time, but I don’t do it enough. I confess that it usually stresses me out. I need to build up a repertoire like this so I have some dependable meals that I know will be a hit.

  • Therese - Artistta

    We do this in our church and it can be a wonderful way to get to know people you’ve never met and even introduce them to a real food. I have been making it a point to try and provide meals as often as I can. As far as the expense goes, I see it as a ministry. I remember when we were new to our church and frankly just getting back to walking with the Lord. I didn’t know our church set up meals for first time mothers until I received a call that I was going to be brought meals everyday for two weeks after my son was born. It was such a huge testimony of the love of our church and the love of people who took the time to prepare the meals. I can’t even begin to explain what a blessing it was at the time because I had just quit my job to become a stay-at-home mom and we had almost no money to our name. We were really taking a leap of faith for the Lord to provide for us. The food was a true, true blessing on many levels and will be something I will never forget.

    Katie Reply:

    Absolutely! It is a gift, a tithe, and an act of service all in one. What a touching moment for you to be welcomed into your church at such a vital time. :) Katie

  • rowena___.

    as a meal bringer i’d much rather know what the family’s food preferences and needs are–after all, the point of the meal is to feed them!–and i can’t do that if i bring something they can’t eat. it seems perfectly reasonable to me to say something such as, “we try to limit our pasta or sweets, for the sake of DH’s health, but i’m sure we’ll enjoy and appreciate whatever you bring.”

  • Sheila

    I think it’s perfectly all right to say, “Don’t worry about dessert, we don’t usually eat it.” It saves the bringer a lot of trouble making something that you don’t want anyway … and who needs kids on a sugar buzz when you’re going through a stressful spot? I have only a couple of times brought meals for people, never anything official, but I would always prefer to know what people want.

  • Anna

    Thanks for the great ideas. I always try to NOT bring lasagna, as it seems like the go-to meal for many. I think I got at least one a week..along with brownies! These are some great ideas that provide variety for the recipient.

  • Kathy @ House of Hills

    I’m a meal bringer for sure and just made a pot of homemade chicken noodle soup and some chicken and rice last night for a family.

    I keep my go to meals in the freezer. I have several recipes I just always keep some done and in the freezer. I then pick up some salad, fruit and maybe bake a pumpkin or zucchini bread (usually mini-loaves so not too much).

    Great post! I love all the soup recipes. I may need to include more of those in my goto meals. I’m not a soup eater, but that doesn’t mean my friends aren’t.

  • Carrie from Denver Bargains

    This was a fabulous post, Katie! So many good ideas and tips!

    My favorite time to bless someone with a meal is in month nine of pregnancy. After I had my last baby, I was SO happy to not be pregnant anymore that I started taking meals to other pregnant moms before the meals people were bringing for me were finished!

    Meals after a baby are appreciated, but it seems like most moms have much less help in the last few weeks of pregnancy than they do after the baby is born so I think it’s fun to call someone and say “hey, don’t cook – I’m bringing dinner tonight!”

    Katie Reply:

    Now THAT is a good idea. Too bad you live halfway across the country from me, because I could totally make your day and let you bring me a meal right now… ;) Katie

  • FarmgirlCyn (Cindy)

    I had knee replacement surgery last year, and was so thankful for the meals that folks brought. I was grateful for anything and everything, but especially for the meals based on NT! I even got some raw milk from my dear friend and neighbor!
    When I bring a meal to someone, it is almost always a soup of some kind and either homemade rolls or a loaf of homemade bread. Easy to re-heat, so they can eat at their leisure.
    And I always, always make enough for my own family so i am not cooking two separate meals!
    I am going to bookmark this and come back when I have time to copy/paste some of the recipes…all such good ideas!

  • Rebekah

    I wouldn’t hesitate to make some requests known. When I take meals to people, I don’t mind at all if they say “no dairy” or “no eggplant,” and so I think that you should feel free to ask for “no wheat” and “no desserts.” They will probably appreciate the guidelines rather than resent them! It’s not like you are asking people to bring you filet mignon. :)

    Katie Reply:

    Oh, but filet mignon would not be turned away! Tee hee! ;) Katie

  • Sheila

    What a really great post! I am getting more relaxed with it, but I do tend to panic over trying to decide what to fix. It is easier for me when it’s someone I know well enough to feel that I can make the same thing I would make for us for dinner. The only thing about requesting gluten-free is that I personally would have no idea what I could make. None of us has that sensitivity, so I don’t know what items have gluten in them. On the other hand, I really want a meal that I bring to be a blessing, and want it to be something that can be eaten. I would do my best, and probably just include recipes with what I brought. I would be bummed if someone said no dessert because that’s my excuse to make dessert for us as well! :) (I’m just teasing about this – night after night of meals including dessert would be too much.)

    Katie Reply:

    Sheila,
    No laughing matter- I know lots of people who look forward to bringing a meal b/c it’s their excuse to make a homemade dessert for their families, too, which is why I hesitate to say “no desserts”! You’re right, I would have to explain what gluten is (I think basically if people stuck to no pasta, no bread, we’d avoid 95% of the gluten – it’s in wheat).

    Thanks for your good input! :) Katie

  • Sarah @ Mum In Bloom

    I harvested kale from my garden today and am making the sausage, kalnd bean soup that I’ll be delivering tomorrow. I’ll be delivering it to one of our MOMS Club members who delivered her baby stillborn last week :( I’m also including homemade bread and cookies. Our MOMS Club does 2 weeks of meals (every other day) for each Mom after she delivers or is in need. It’s been the best part of being a part of the group :)

  • Stacy Makes Cents

    Katie, this was a really great post – something near and dear to my heart. I always feel great when I deliver a meal to someone. It makes me feel like I have a really important purpose – to help out. What’s said is that most people don’t do this any more. When I had my first, Annie, we only got meals from my mom and my husband’s mom….no one else. We didn’t even get calls for food requests. It was quite shocking to me. I actually let it change how did I things for a while, and I quit sending food. But now I’m over my whiny self and taking food to people again.
    Pay it forward.

    Stacy Makes Cents Reply:

    SAD, not said. Good grief. :-)

  • Becky R

    Hi! I grapple with this because I am a single mom and sometimes people bless me with food but since we don’t eat high fructose corn syrup, food dyes, and much canned goods / processed foods and that is usually what they bring over. I so appreciate their kindness, but still feel convicted about eating that stuff.

    I think if people ask if they can bring a meal and ask if you have any food allergies/preferences then you should share with them.

    I finally told my ex sister in law that we don’t do dyes and high fructose corn syrup, because she was wanting to bless my kids with Doritoes, cheese puffs, and lots of sugary cereals. I kept telling her how blessed I felt to have her in my life and for ll she does for me though.

    It is hard not to offend, but if they are going to spend money I want it to be well spent.

  • Breanne

    I’m also nearing the end of my pregnancy and trying to stock our freezer with real foods that will be easy to reheat. Bringing meals to people is a real ministry and I know how much it means when people ask about dislikes/allergies. I always like to do something a little extra like cookie dough or extra baking that the mom can throw in the freezer for a future meal or snack.

  • Suanna

    I know when someone has asked about our food preferences, I usually say “Please make us aware if you use oats in your recipe, as my dh is allergic to them, but everyone else can have them. Then he will know if he needs to avoid something.”

  • Therese - Artistta

    Becky, I have too. While it was a huge, huge blessing the first time around, with our second child I decided to not take meals because I wanted to maintain a stricter diet, especially in those first couple of weeks. So, what did my friends (and Bible Study) do, they purchased a gift card to our co-op and also gave me a gift certificate to a really awesome organic, raw food and fruit/vegetables only, nothing processed restaurant. While I do eat meat and dairy, this restaurant was great (no joke) and it opened my eyes to some really cool ways to prepare vegetables that are very healthy for you. So maybe, ask that people do gift cards or like you said simply be honest and tell them you’d prefer to avoid certain ingredients. Doesn’t seem any different than having a food allergy. Also helps to have a supportive real food community. The more we all follow each others blogs and communicate, the more we can build those relationships, no matter where we live.

  • Beth @ Turn 2 the Simple

    Feel free to ask for “no desserts” — it definitely is easier for the food-bringer! Keep fresh salad greens and veggies and fruits on hand and just supplement meals with those. I’m going to guess that lots of your friends know that you prefer “healthy foods” and that even if they don’t know what all than means, will probably make a greater effort to be “healthier”. God bless you, your family and your new baby!

    Katie Reply:

    Beth, True, I think people do know (I’m kind of on the Internet about it, tee hee!) and I kind of worry that that fact will intimidate them! Like, “I don’t know what to bring Katie this time; she might not eat our food!” I just want to be easy…but not get unhealthy or have DH gain 5 lbs…I get the baby weight, not him, right? Thanks! :) Katie

  • Julieanne

    I’ve always enjoyed bringing people meals, too, and have been blessed by weeks of meals while on bedrest.

    In our church community, we have found that most people were happy with us just bringing a main dish, and not bringing all of the extras (sides and desserts) as well.

    What we’ve found best to do in many situations is to have everyone bring a main dish that is frozen or ready to be frozen, to our church refrigerator or freezer. Then, one person takes all of those main dishes out to the family who is needing the meal support.

    The reason why we thought of doing meals this way was because when I was on bedrest for three weeks at the end of one pregnancy and then on bedrest for 3 weeks afterward, our fridge would get so full of sides and desserts that it was too overwhelming. It would have been so much better just to be able to heat something up in the oven at our own convenience!

    Also, then we wouldn’t have someone coming by to bring that night’s dinner when I found out a few minutes earlier that a relative was inviting us to her home for a meal or bringing by some take-out food for us.

    So, bringing just the refrigerated or frozen main dish freed up our schedule and sudden changes some evenings, without causing anyone to feel guilty for receiving a meal that they really weren’t going to be able to eat that evening.

    Just some thoughts!

    Julieanne
    http://www.JoyInOurJourney.com

    Katie Reply:

    Julieanne,
    Definitely an excellent point – when stocking the freezer for someone, just the main dish goes a long way toward sanity! Thanks! :) Katie

  • Amy Floyd

    I never realized how important this ministry is until our daughter was diagnosed with cancer when she was 6 years old and spent so much of the next 2 years in and out of the hospital and dr. office. We did not have a church home at the time (we were looking for one), and the support from our friends quickly broke down. How comforting and encouraging it would have been if someone had brought over a meal occasionally or even a basket of muffins or plate of sandwiches! It was a very lonely 2 years, but one of the many things I learned during that time was the great need for God’s people to reach out to each other in this very tangible, helpful way.

    We now belong to a very wonderful church family and are weeks from welcoming our 6th baby. In the Spring, all 5 of my kids had the chicken pox. The ladies from our church jumped into gear and had us meals for a week or so. I don’t think we’ve ever eaten so well! I found that having others cook for us really expanded my children’s palates, because they were more willing to try things that they would have turned up their nose at if I had made it (go figure!). Most of the ladies called me beforehand to make sure their food choices were ok with the family. One particular lady prepared an absolute feast from mostly organic ingedients! That one meal fed us 3 times.

    If you are blessed with the time, resources, and gift of this particular ministry, I encourage you to look beyond the typical “needy” people, although they should certainly not be overlooked. I have a burden for very young families — moms of children under 5 mostly. Wow — most of us have been there, and it is a trying and tiring time. What a blessing to a young mom to have an older mom in a fellowship offer a meal.

    Amy

  • Sweetpeas

    If someone asks, I’ll tell them our preferences, not just from a health standpoint, but likes & dislikes as well. Before our twins were born, 2 friends wanted to gift us with a stash of freezer meals, they asked me for recipes we liked, and sent me other recipes to “ok” in advance. My husband is a picky eater (and I am to a lesser degree), so we greatly appreciated having a freezer full of meals that we actually LIKED. If someone shows up with a meal for us, I thank them graciously & hope we can eat it (or, when we lived closer to my parents, passed it along to my grandparents who eat anything LOL). I think it depends what it is too, a family from church recently invited us to dinner & she mentioned “oh, be we don’t eat organics, is that ok?” I assured her that it was. So it’s kind of a “play it by ear” thing . . .

  • nopinkhere

    I think it may depend on the group. My mom’s group is full of people with sensitivities and allergies, so we expect a list of no’s when setting up food. We often use Care Calendar and it seems to be pretty easy to specify requests within it.

  • Charissa

    I think it’s fine to express some preferences. I really wished I had after having a baby and getting so many white carb-based meals (but I just put it in the category of trust God with our health for a month and enjoyed the food). If you’re trying to cut back on gluten but aren’t really allergic to it, you could just say “no wheat” rather than “no gluten.” Gluten shows up in small quantities in lots of ingredients, so people might feel more intimidated. Saying no wheat might steer people away from all the white carbs, though. I might try it next time :). And I think it’s fine to say no sweets!

  • Sarah W

    I think it would be good in your case to ask for gluten free meals… b/c even though your DH might have some once a month or whatever it is, if you don’t specify, you might find yourselves eating A LOT of it or he having to look at all the food being brought in and not eat any of it. When we were brought meals recently, I had to specify no peppers or mushrooms b/c my DH hates them and I don’t want him to sit at the table grumpy and hungry b/c he can’t eat what was brought to us.
    As far as the sweets and the rest, I just let it slide when people were bringing us food. I’ll admit, I often enjoyed indulging in some brownies even though there was probably BAD junk in there! I pretended I didn’t know (since I didn’t have a box to read). We did not always receive desserts, just a few times. We did get LOTS of salad though – more than I could eat! (since I am the main salad eater around here. Everyone esle only takes token amounts.)

    Thanks for the recipe suggestions! My go to meal is usually chili with ground beef because I typically make about 3 gallons at a time and freeze it for future meals (for us) and always set aside a portion to give away as well. I like having it in the freezer ready to go so I don’t have to think about what to make or when to make it when someone is in need of a meal.

    Katie Reply:

    Sarah, Sometimes I like the ignorance of not having the labels to read, too! Tee hee! :) Katie

  • Rachel

    Here are a couple of thoughts based on my own experience being on the giving an receiving end. People seem to rely really heavily on pasta dishes when bringing meals. And salad. So much that we’ve gotten sick of both (while trying to be grateful for the outpouring of support)! So with this in mind, I try to avoid both when planning a meal for a family. And instead of dessert, try making a batch of muffins or something fun for breakfast. Soup doesn’t seem to be overused, but I think that might be because it seems a little bit risky since there are so many people who are not soup-for-dinner eaters (especially men). If it’s a really good, prized recipe, I say go for it. Also, modular things are fun and easy for the recipient to tailor. I’m thinking shredded pork tacos with all of the fixings divided into little baggies.
    I don’t think there’s a problem in letting people know dislikes and intolerances as long as it’s kept short and simple.

  • charis

    one meal that is cheap and fun to bring is build your own burritos. i make the beans, mexican rice (and use brown rice and homemade stock), grate cheese, bring tortillas, sour cream, a bunch of cilantro, couple limes, and a small bottle of tapatio and you have it! it is easy to make enough for my family as well and rice and beans are a staple around here. i have appreciated meals so much when we are in transition or crisis that i am usually just gracious at receiving and am not picky, just letting them know of a walnut allergy. i figure our family (including my kids) need to learn to be thankful for what is served… missionary style. people try to bring their best even if it isn’t our taste and it is important to receive well and not be a picky when someone is doing an act of service.

    my recent post: how to dig deep into the Word

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  • Karen

    Thank you sooo much for this. I always have the hardest time trying to figure out what to make for those in need. Your “Sharing meals Philosophy” was quite helpful as well.

  • Stephanie

    Such a great post! Meals are a wonderful gift to give…during pregnancy, after a new baby, during illness or a hospital stay, etc. ETC.

    Food is, in so many ways, the universal language of caring.

    My favorite meal to give is chicken enchiladas and a bottle of sparkling cider.

  • Lisa

    I’m pretty new to this all natural, whole food thing, but have been whole grains, butter and EVOO for many years. I saw your link to plantoeat.com and since I’m on there as well, I sent you an invite to be a friend, then we can share recipes if you’d like. Maybe there’s something you can borrow. ;)

    Katie Reply:

    Lisa,
    For some reason, I can’t figure out how to say “yes” to friend requests – so I’m not ignoring you, I’m just technologically illiterate! :) Katie

  • Lisa Stone

    You should have gotten an email with a link. You can always manually add me using my email, I think, but I only have 2 friends. There’s a Friends tab next to My Recipes tab when you log in. When you click on that, there’s an FAQ about friends on the left under your list of friends.

  • Sandra via Facebook

    I SO AGREE!

Welcome!  Meet Katie.

I embrace butter. I make homemade yogurt. I eat traditional real food – plants and animals that God created, not products of plants where food scientists work. Here at Kitchen Stewardship, I share how I strive to be a good steward of my family's nutrition, the environment, and our budget, all without spending every second in the kitchen. Learn more about the mission of KS here.

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