Q & A – Sympathy Meals: Do You Give & Receive Them?

Today we’re going to do something a little different, because I’d love to hear from you on an important topic. We’ve had some great discussion on our Facebook page on this subject, and my readers over at Under the High Chair have shared their experiences, and I am now curious as to what my dear Simple Bites readers have to say.

Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about cooking for others and the meaning behind the action. I don’t mean carving roast beef and passing around popovers for dinner guests (although that also has its qualities), but hot, nourishing meals that are made with care and delivered to someone in need.

There’s a lot to be said for the benefits of good, home cooked food when you are emotionally and physically low on reserves. A friend of mine,Β  Alice, recently wrote a moving post over at PBS Parents called Caring for Others. She shares firsthand how her family was recently touched during a particularly difficult time and had this to say about sympathy meals:

“It doesn’t take culinary know-how to bless others through food. It just takes the willingness to do it…Knowing and experiencing the love of others is the best medicine there is for broken hearts. Never underestimate the power of a home-cooked meal made with loving hands during times of crisis.”*

Powerful stuff.

As someone who loves to cook and bake, I often have a pot pie, casserole or tin of cookies banging around in my trunk on its way to a friend’s house. I may not always have the right words to say, or faculties to make a difficult situation easier when a friend is in need, but I can prepare double when I make dinner and send some love over in the form of a hot meal.

Who might need a meal?

You don’t have to look very far to find a recipient. We all know people who are struggling, who have perhaps lost a loved one, or are fighting a long-term illness, or lost their job. The starving college student, the single mother, and pregnant friend on bed rest would all probably be blessed by your thoughtfulness as well.

They’re not just for people are going through a tough time, though; those who are celebrating can also benefit from a prepared meal. Don’t forget about sleep-deprived new parents, new homeowners, or honeymooners!

**UPDATE: A lot of excellent questions have been raised in the comments. These will be addressed in an upcoming post. Thank you for sharing and for asking questions!**

Q & A. Here’s what I want to know: Have you ever received a meal during a difficult time from a well-meaning friend? How did it make you feel? Have you ever brought a hot meal to someone in need? How was it received?

I’m curious to know if this happens regularly in your communities. Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comments, and feel free to list favorite dishes to give and receive.

I look forward to hearing if these not-so-random acts of kindness are still alive and well. Thanks for reading.

* Head HERE to read the entire post by Alice on Kitchen Explorers and get her recipe for Chicken Almond Rice Casserole.

About Aimee

Cooking has always been AimΓ©e's preferred recreational activity, creative outlet, and source of relaxation. After nearly ten years in the professional cooking industry, she went from restaurant to RSS by trading her tongs and clogs for cookie cutters and a laptop, serving as editor here at Simple Bites.

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Comments

  1. Aimee,
    Typically I am usually the one preparing meals for others and not the other way around. With that said, I’ve received quite a few meals in the last month since my father passed away suddenly. I cannot express how touched I was to receive these meals during a time I was rarely home to cook.

    Life is always full of surprises and helping others through times of need is not only practical, it alleviates stress so people can focus on other things.

    Thanks for including me in your post.

    Alice
    alice’s last post: Nutella Chocolate Cobbler

  2. Whitney @ Nesting Season says:

    “Food fairies” are common in my neck of the woods. I have been on both ends of the exchange, receiving meals in times of need and paying it forward when able. I still remember the exact meal dropped off at my step when I had the flu in college, and the one I made for a friend who lost a child. I hardly cooked for a month after having each of my children, and I never pass up a chance to peek at a new baby as I hand over dinner. College students are treated to stock this time of year.

    I cook for the occasion–soup for the ill, muffins and finger foods for new families, comfort with a twist for sympathy…

    Alice’s remark about freeing people to focus on other things is key, I think.

    Beautiful post.
    Whitney @ Nesting Season’s last post: loving my husband

  3. Totally agree with Alice. Nothing satisfies my soul than cooking a meal to help the ones in need.
    Kiran’s last post: Simple Guacamole

  4. What wonderful healing powers food can have, when people are in need of comfort. I know that in my family food was always a source of comfort and a way of showing we cared.
    Sylvie @ Gourmande in the Kitchen’s last post: french vegetable soup the soup that changed my mind

  5. I have been so blessed, in December I had my baby via c-section, and ladies at our church made us a few meals. On Wednesday this week I hurt my back so much that I’ve been on bedrest, and now the ladies again are stepping up and helping me. We really are blessed. Hopefully I will soon be back in shape and able to cook for someone else.
    Lizanne’s last post: Pain

    • How fortunate you are to have a solid network of women around to help you through this rough patch. I’m glad to see you are inspired to pass it on.

  6. We’ve found the website http://www.foodtidings.com really helpful when organising meals like this. It allows you to set up a food schedule and all the relevant details, send out an email to people who might be able to help, and they can sign up for a day that suits.

  7. I love this post. I grew up in the south and my mom made meals for people all the time. Anytime someone passed away, the ladies of our church took food over to the home of the family. I now realize what a blessing it must have been for them to not have to cook for all of the family that were around. If people were sick or homebound, meals were taken. I was proud (though sad) to continue that tradition myself as an adult. Our neighborhood created a meal schedule for a family whose eldest child was being treated for cancer. We fed the two other teenage kids for the months of cancer treatment.

    When our first child was born, we were completely overwhelmed. A week after we returned home, one of our neighbors brought over a homemade chicken pot pie which my husband devoured. I realized it was the first “real” meal we’d had since her birth. After our second child was born, a different neighbor brought over a big bag of food from one of the best local Italian places so we had several meals ready to be heated. We were in heaven on earth!

    You asked about sympathy meals but it would be great if we would share meals during other times, too.

    • Right! I did mention above that joyous occasions such as births & weddings are also ideal times to give a meal. And, mmm, chicken pot pie sounds perfect!

  8. Yes I have both received and given meals in times of need. I cannot tell you how much it has meant to me to be on the receiving end. But honestly, it’s the giving that gets me every time…there is nothing more soul satisfying than preparing a meal with love & care that will nourish both the body & soul in someone else. There are so many terrible things that go on in our world today it can make one feel down right helpless. But we can all do simple gestures that make a big difference! It’s a s easy a doubling a meal that you were already making with a few special touches such as flowers & dessert. I usually call ahead to arrange a drop off time and then leave the meal on the stoop so that the family isn’t bothered with a visitor!
    Wenderly’s last post: Nutella Fudge Brownies

  9. Sara Jane says:

    After my surgery my sweet out of town sister ordered my family a pizza online. It meant so much to me and my hungry family!

  10. My neighbor has health problems. I regularly make her soup or dinner when I know that she’s particularly down, and she always loves that. However, when we were first friends, I made her a batch of muffins, and they weren’t very well received because they contained sugar. So many people nowadays have one food issue or another, it does intimidate me to make something for someone without speaking to them first. I’m always worried I’m making something that they’re not actually going to be able to eat.
    Amber | Bluebonnets & Brownies’s last post: Banana Ginger Breakfast Cookies

    • A very valid concern, Amber. I almost always speak to someone close to the family, or the family themselves, and ask about allergies, etc. There’s no point in sending food that won’t be enjoyed.

  11. Very interesting topic. When I was younger, I believe it was just assumed that when something tragic happened to someone you knew, you brought food. Now I think it’s a little different. And elder of my church died about a year and a half ago, and as soon as I heard, I looked for something suitable to bring to the family. I just knew they were going to have a house-ful of people. When my husband and I brought the food over, not only was there no one but family there, but no one else had brought food. On the other hand, we have a system in place at church to provide meals on a long term basis to someone going through an illness, or another situation that would make it difficult for the family. I think it’s confusing to know what is the right thing to do.

  12. I received a meal of homemade.mac and cheese when I was on bedrest once. It meant the world to me. This is not a custom I grew up with, and while I have brought several meals to people over the years, I don’t feel like I am really good at it. Is the meal supposed to be delivered hot and at dinner time? What are the best meals to bring? I feel like if I could get one really good idea for a tried and true meal, with instructions, I’d be set. …anyone???

  13. I have been on the giving and receiving end of meals at various times in my life, and both have been very appreciated. I find that in our area this gift is provided through the church communities more than anything else, but I do know some other play group type communities that try and help out in this way when one of their members has a baby, illness, or death. Personally, meals during a time of need mean SO much to me as a mother and wife. It takes the pressure off of me to feed my family nutritiously when all I feel like doing is crying or sleeping! I try to make something for families that is not tomato sauce based (e.g., lasagna) since a lot of people tend to give those types of one dish meals. Soups and breads seem to be well received, especially in the colder months. I, too, try to connect with the family that I am serving to make sure there are no food allergies and such. I hope that this tradition never dies!

  14. In my church (Latter-day Saint, more commonly known as Mormon), this is something that happens all the time! All of the women in a church group belong to a women’s organization called a Relief Society, and when we meet on Sundays there is almost always a clipboard going around with service-through-cooking kinds of opportunities–bringing meals to a new mother, or someone who just had surgery, or the homeless shelter, or those nice young Mormon missionaries you see walking around everywhere. :-) Additionally, everyone in the church group has two “visiting teachers” assigned to her–women who are responsible for looking out for each other, usually through visiting each other at least once a month, but in times of need, this is absolutely amazing. For instance, one year I was struggling with a difficult pregnancy and my husband was diagnosed with pneumonia; just as I was wondering how we would get through the next week, my visiting teachers showed up on the doorstep with meals in hand. They had no idea what was going on; they just both felt that I needed them. Another time I had emergency surgery (also while pregnant, and my visiting teachers organized meals and childcare for the next several weeks.
    Rachael’s last post: Day three

  15. The sympathy meals are alive and well here in the South! We just recently lost my uncle and there was enough food for a large army. In my family, when we lose someone we all gather at that person’s home and who wasn’t most closely affected (spouse and children) starts cooking, as well as other friends and neighbors that usually step in and bring food. It’s touching and also tremendously helpful because there are so many people around, so many things to take care of and what to cook is so often the last thing anyone wants to think about.

    Something my best friend and I both do and often recommend is to make something that freezes well, like lasagna and many casseroles, and bring it over frozen. This way, as the other meals slow down and eventually stop appearing there is still something pre-made for the person to just thaw, heat and eat.
    Melinda’s last post: Food Geek Friday- Vegan Challenge

  16. I realized the blessing of giving/getting meals when my first child was born – and now I truly love making something for a family that will nourish their hearts and bodies during a time of need…. I use http://www.takethemameal.com/ to organize meals (they also have a sister site perfectpotluck.com that I can’t wait to use) – it is so easy to set up and send around a link so others can help out, too!

    • I second the use of http://www.takethemameal.com/. It’s very user-friendly! It helps so much with coordinating meals, addressing the family’s food preferences/allergies, and sharing info easily with others who want to help.

      Another thought – preparing meals for friends is a practical way to involve my son in caring for others. When he helps me prepare and deliver a meal, he’s learning first-hand how to minister. I’ve found that to be a wonderful blessing each time we’ve been able to help.

  17. I always prepare meals for others, but I don’t think I’ve ever received one. I know I would definitely appreciate it though. :-)

  18. I work and attend a pretty large church, so this is DEFINITELY common grounds for me. I’m in my late 20s, so I usually see this happen when people have babies. We like to use http://www.takethemameal.com, which makes everything so much easier. It’s awesome that the recipient can look and see who is coming and when, and what they’re bringing (if they disclose). You can also list allergies, dislikes, etc. Also, I see this alot in my neighborhood when people are undergoing chemo, after surgery, just had a death, etc. I’ve been offered a meal once while in the process of moving, and that is nice, too! It’s a great way to meet a new neighbor. :)

  19. I never understood taking meals to others until I joined a church that had a meal ministry. I served there, not because I’m a great cook (I’m not). But, rather because it was a simple way to help another.

    When I was on bed rest with my second child, we received meals. It wasn’t until then that I understood the power of feeding someone. It’s a tangible way to tell them that you care and you want to help. It has absolutely nothing to do with “need”. Yes, they might be able to cook. Yes, they may be capable of paying for take-out and prepared meals. But, I WANT to bless them and this is a very practical way to do so.

    For the last 10 years, I have Once-a-Month-Cooked and have found that to greatly increase my ability to bring meals to others. Now, I coordinate a meal swap and I actually have each participant donate a meal for a family in need. (Our recipient families changes each time.)

    All this to say, I love to bless other families the way we were blessed. It makes the tough times easier!

    (Tonight, I’m making lil’ cheddar meatloaves, green salad, french bread, and cookies for a family. Easy, easy, easy!)

  20. I have been blessed with and given meals. I would love to do more of it. I am sorry to say, though, that this is something that I do see going by the wayside, so to speak. While many churches do still do this for each other, I know of some that don’t do anything for a new mom, for example. I guess with so many moms and older ladies working all the time it is hard for people to find time for cooking, period. I think it is a sad commentary on a culture if we don’t have time to take care of each other in times of need.

    Thanks for writing about this, and I will be sharing this. I was/am actually planning to conduct a similar survey. =)
    Nichola Files’s last post: Welcome- Rayna Yael!

  21. I’ve only given/received meals organized by a support network — for new moms, often when there second or third child was born, organized by our parenting group, and for friends coping with illness in the family, usually coordinated through http://www.takethemameal.com. I ask friends who seem they could use a hand, and the offer is usually declined, but with appreciation. I sometimes bake bread for them anyway!

    In my circle of friends, there’s usually an invitation to come over for dinner with the kids when a spouse is away for several days. That’s always so appreciated!

    Guidelines I follow when I do bring a meal:
    * avoid common or serious allergens (never peanuts, for example) and foods people have strong opinions about (such as olives, fish);
    * pack it in containers that don’t need to be returned, and be sure to note I don’t need them back;
    * make large servings of at least one thing that freezes well, in case they already have more than enough and want to save something for later;
    * include a detailed menu that lists ingredients (again, a nod to dietary issues) and explains how to reheat and how to store extras, if necessary;
    * for kids, include enough that would satisfy a somewhat fussy kid so the family hopefully won’t need to prepare something else for wee ones;
    * focus on fresh, healthy food with a modest sweet for dessert. I know some friends have felt inundated with cakes and pies!

    I’ve also delivered grocery bags stuffed with ready-to-go food (around here, Trader Joe’s is great for stocking up freezers and pantry shelves with relatively good products). That’s a great option when you’re not confident of your baking, or suspect the recipients have received quite enough casseroles, thank you.

  22. I love the idea and love doing this for others… I love that you are putting this out there. Great reminder!
    Amanda’s last post: Vertical Layer Rose Cake

  23. Great post! I’ve been on both sides of sympathy meals. I’ve been so grateful to friends and church members who brought food after my babies were born. It’s also been nice to be on the giving end, to know that I’m helping out when someone needs it.
    Erin’s last post: God Gave Us Christmas by Lisa Tawn Bergren- art by David Hohn

  24. What a timely and important post. When we moved from Pennsylvania to Minnesota we were welcomed into our neighborhood by some lovely people who brought us gifts of food. It was just the perfect beginning to a wonderful life here. I just love giving gifts of food to others…whether for a sad and stressful time or a happy occasion.
    cherylk’s last post: Old Police Car in Oregon – Photo Finish Friday

  25. very nice and nutritive recipes … !

  26. After I had our third child, my friends brought me meals every other day (with enough food for leftovers on the days in between) for 3 weeks:)! It was one of the best gifts….my husband was in grad school full time & was rarely home to help me. Having one less thing to think about & being able to focus not only on my newborn, but my older two children, was a priceless gift.
    I have also made meals for others recently…mostly because I want to pay it forward.

  27. I love to make meals for those in need, its what makes me feel like I am helping most.
    I have had two very powerful experiences with being on the receiving end. When my 3rd bambino was born unexpectedly 6 wks too early, leading us to live in another town for over a week to be near his NICU, I was caught wholly unprepared. But we came home to a fully stocked kitchen and a freezer full of meals from all of my friends…powerful provision. A few years later, overwhelmed by 3 in a busy season of live a more experienced mother made us dinner, out of the blue. She said that she thought mothers of toddlers ought to get meals too, not just mothers of infants…I felt like someone understood completely my struggle and ministered to the heart of me.

  28. When my mom died our congregation had a meal delivered to us from our friends every day for a month. Our family felt so loved and cared for. And whenever we have friends or family sick or coming out of the hospital or what ever the circumstance I always make a meal to either eat then or they can freeze it for later.

    This was a great post.
    Rana’s last post: Snowed In!

  29. Yep, we have a neighbor that we love dearly and my son always looks for him to say hi to. Since he, John, is elderly and has a tougher time getting around, we bring the paper and coffee or meals quite often. I take my son to see to deliver it since, John also loves to see Cole.

    Great post, Aimee!

  30. It’s funny, Aimee….I’m making one right now for a family in need at my kiddo’s school.

    The school has an online system set up. You can register and when when a family is in need: new baby, death in the family, injury, etc….an email goes out and you can sign up online to help. It’s a really great way to help…even to help families that you might not even know well.

    When my mom died, my dad’s house was filled with food. Someone even brought over paper plates, napkins and TOILET PAPER. I can’t tell you how nice it was to not have to run to the store for anything and not have to think about making a meal during that time.

    Food is such a wonderful way to show someone you care.
    bridget {bake at 350}’s last post: Blogging Buddies Works For Me Wednesday

  31. So many spread love through food – and it’s something we can all do to support one another. A couple years ago, one of my best friends was in palliative care in Vancouver with a brain tumor. (At 36.) The ward was full of grieving families and friends who wandered the halls, sat at bedsides, and cried in the common areas. One day I decided to bake cookies in the small kitchen reserved mostly for reheating leftovers and making coffee. The entire ward filled with the smell of baking chocolate chip cookies. People would come in, surprised, and ask, “did you actually bake cookies?” and (sometimes) smile. When you can’t do anything else, bake cookies.
    Julie’s last post: Homemade Ginger Beef!

  32. In western Canada bringing a family meals after the birth of a baby is uncommon. My American husband was shocked “Why does everyone bring flowers, we need a casserole!” Knowing what an incredible gift it is, I endeavour to bring a meal to anyone I know (even slightly) after a baby is born. And of course there are many other circumstances when a gifted meal is an incredible blessing. I also think that often it is easier to drop off a meal but what some people really crave and need is shared fellowship over a meal and so a dinner invite is better.

  33. I belong to a large group of moms who meet regularly for friendship and shared parenting. There is often one among us in need of a meal. Mostly due to the birth of a child but we have had our fair share of loss. While I do not remember the website we use to coordinate meals it is wonderful. There are many out there. The one we use allows us to pick which days and post allergies and food preferences. There is also a spot for contact info for the pledged food fairy. Once we learn about a need we long into the site and sign up. I was a recipient last year after emergency surgery left me unable to cook dinner for my two toddlers. It felt great to able to sleep knowing my family had a hot meal. I also received a few freezer meals, just in case. I love this article and the feeling behind it.
    Kris’s last post: January 28 Cupcakes

  34. I belong to a mothers’ group that has a Care Committee…whenever another mom is in need the Care Committee is contacted and we organize to provide meals to the family for as long as needed. The need can be anything – usually it’s a new baby in the house or a health issue. My mothers’ group also provides a meal to our local Ronald McDonald House once a month (I usually volunteer to do the dessert a few times a year…the meals are for 30-40 people at a time so we take turns!)

    Last May, I was in a serious car crash with my two youngest children. Thank goodness there were no lasting injuries, but in the weeks following the crash we were dealing with a million annoying details (insurance, car rentals, buying a new car, doctor’s visits, etc), dealing with the emotional trauma of the experience and I ended up with immobilizing whiplash. Our Care Committee came through for me, providing our family with three meals spaced out over a week. Other friends who are not in the mothers’ group also dropped off food, and the teachers at my sons’ school organized for a TON of food to be delivered to us! I remember receiving about a weeks’ worth of meals also in 2005 when I was pregnant with my 3rd son and recovering from surgery. I will be forever grateful for those meals, and I try to “pay it forward” whenever I can.

  35. I have given and received meals. It has only been a couple times I have been the recipient, but it was so, so nice. I broke my tailbone last year and was unable to move around for a couple weeks and it was so nice to have meals brought to me, very humbling though.
    I try to remember to make it simple to reheat, a full meal if I can…not just a casserole, but a casserole, salad and dessert if I can. If I can’t, I try to stick to simple.
    Some of the best meals I remember….one was pot roast, zucchini and strawberry jello pie…another was roast pork loin, salad and baked potato with a couple pieces of cheesecake.
    I always call and ask if they have any allergies, what time to bring and see if they like me to bring it earlier in the day. I just fixed a meal for someone who was not eating dairy, eggs or wheat. It can be a fun challenge to make a good meal for them and you can pray for them while you do it!
    Martha’s last post: The Pirate Queen by Patricia Hickman

  36. Making meals for people is probably one of my favorite areas to give in. Because I am a mostly stay-at-home-mom and my husband works quite a bit, it’s an area that I can do something quick and with my kids around. I also love what it teaches my kids.
    I am from a larger church in the south, and our small groups like to organize meals for people who just had a baby, death in the family, sick, or going through a rough patch. Sometimes things are organized, sometimes not they are spur of the moment.
    Last month I made so many spur of the moment meals all my casserole dishes were lent out!

  37. LOVE the joy of seeing someone made happier by good food, so yes, I have given and received….

  38. Our community is HUGE on preparing sympathy meals. I posted about sympathy meals last week,http://lifeinthemicro.blogspot.com/2011/01/kindness-of-friends-and-neighbors.html . Recently, a neighbor returned from the hospital after extensive abdominal surgery. So many people have been preparing meals for the family that their 10 year old son asked if people were bringing them food because his dad had lost his job. His dad’s job is secure as is the affection with which this neighborhood treats its members.

  39. I love to cook meals for others. Typically I bring a salad in the warmer months and a soup in the colder months. I try to stay away from lots of cheese, noodles, breads because this is what is typically given and I am just trying to add a little variety and nutirition.

    Also, what is that delicious looking thing in the picture? Please share!

  40. Unfortunately this is something that I don’t think is focused on as much as it should be in my community unless you’re in a situation that is severe: death in the family, new baby, child in the hospital…that sort of thing.

    I received amazing support after Madeline was born from my mom’s group. I was offered 10 meals and they were scheduled every other day. It was amazing, so I hate to complain.

    BUT there have often been times where I would have loved a meal but didn’t “NEED” one. Especially when Logan was in his therapy. The appointments were every other week and 40 minutes across town, 45 minute appt and 40 minutes home. We did the same routine with the nutritionist once a month and also did developmental play therapy WEEKLY with the same distance for about a year.

    With that I even had a hard time just getting someone to watch Madeline for me so I didn’t have to lug her around to all the appointments. I can’t imagine asking for a meal on occasion would have been very well received. During that time it was easy for me to feel that others were burnt out on me and sadly that’s when I really needed the support as it was so emotionally exhausting.

    I also get jokes from friends about bringing meals because I’m always cooking/such a great cook/etc. I think it’s helpful to realize that it isn’t WHAT the food is that is brought but the THOUGHT that really counts.

    And I agree, it is so easy to make a double batch of something since we’re always cooking to offer to a friend in need. We are pretty good about sharing our treats (we’ve always got a batch of muffins or cookies going) that we make with friends an neighbors, but I know I could do better with the meal thing.
    Katie | GoodLife Eats’s last post: Super Bowl Party Tips Recipe- Artichoke-Chile Dip

  41. And at the risk of sounding ME ME ME, I’d like to add that people should never refuse a meal. I have definitely been turned down on occasion when I was in a position to offer a meal. Some people have a hard time letting others help and it makes me sad when I want to help.
    Katie | GoodLife Eats’s last post: Super Bowl Party Tips Recipe- Artichoke-Chile Dip

  42. I don’t come from a community that adheres to this type of tradition. Recently our family has been hit with a few deaths in a row, and I have noticed this. Most people sent over cold cuts. Trays, platters, sandwiches, you name it. While it is a sweet and helpful gesture, it wasn’t personal, to me.

    When my uncle passed away (my godmother’s husband), I went over with raw meatballs and gravy ingredients and cooked them in her kitchen while she was entertaining all of the pop-in visitors. The smell of the meatballs cooking was soothing, comfort food. This wouldn’t be appropriate in all situations, but it was perfect for us.
    Jackie @ Crest Cottage’s last post: Updates!

  43. I have been on the giving and receiving end of meals and it’s one of my most favorite ways to minister to others. As a mama of 4 little ones, like you mentioned, it’s easy to do double-duty on dinner and help someone else out. I go to a small church and after my 4th baby last fall, this little (approximately 120 person) church made enough meals for us that I didn’t have to cook for a month. It was amazing and we were so incredibly blessed by it. : )
    stephanie’s last post: LM Montgomery Challenge – A Conclusion

  44. I’ve made meals for those in need as well as received meals after 3 of our children were born. It is such a blessing to give when you know someone who needs it. When our 4th child was born we had so many people make us meals, that it was a nice break from the kitchen while I got to know our new baby. Personally I love meals that freeze well. When I give a meal I try to give instructions for freezing and reheating it if they wish to do that. It’s so nice to be able to pull something out of the freezer for a meal when you are having a day filled with struggles, a week or two after the meals have stopped coming.

  45. When I had my Blessingway for my second child, my friends made freezer meals for me to take home- calzones, breakfast casserole, and muffins. It was much appreciated. After the birth I had meals several different nights from friends popping by. Also recently a friend came to cook dinner for us when my husband told her husband that I was overwhelmed and depressed. I like to give people food food- for deaths or surgeries or babies and even house remodeling. I like to take quiche over when someone is in need. Everyone loves a good quiche (unless they are allergic or vegan of course.) Also, shepherd’s pie is always good and can be made with ground beef or lentils! Good old split pea soup is always a hit too- with or without ham!
    Ashley’s last post: Caelan- 16 weeks!

  46. Absolutely no one has ever given me food due to a stressful event or even a joyous one. I often felt that people like this no longer existed anymore! But I am the kind of girl who is determined to stand against the grain and do for others what I never received! I know the value of any support, kindness or showing of love during tough times as well as good. I wish I would have gotten some so I strive to give it whenever I can. I love to cook and bake and there is such a joy creating a dish for others, and getting to see the joy as they devour it! :) It’s just my little girl and I so it’s the only time I get to cook for anyone else! Thanks for posting this, I’m sharing it on Facebook so that hopefully more people can take part in something so sweet.
    Ashley’s last post: Brown Rice w- Egg and Cabbage Recipe

  47. We have been blessed with wonderful meal delivery after both our kids were born. Giving meals is certainly my ministry of choice. I have a few “set” dishes that I know transport, reheat, and freeze well:
    White Chicken Chili
    Asian-style turkey wraps
    Pulled Pork sandwiches
    I also try to include a couple “extras” – jar of apple sauce, gallon of milk, boxed mac n’ cheese, box of crackers – to help stock the pantry/fridge.

    These posts have encouraged me to look for other reasons to give meals. Our daycare just had a head lice incident this week, so I’m going to take the owners some soup on Monday – I’m sure they’ll be exhausted after a weekend of washing, washing, washing!

    I’ve also hosted a couple Soup Swaps (www.soupswap.com) for my friends. It’s not sympathy meals, but simply acknowledges that we ALL have a need for easy meals lovingly prepared by others!
    Alissa’s last post: What Does it Mean

  48. Alison Cromie says:

    We are busy preparing meals for our friends who are expecting their first child in a few weeks. We’re hoping to be able to bring over a week’s worth of meals to put in their freezer for when they get home from the hospital.

    My grandparents made us a bunch of meals for when our little one was born two weeks ago. It was so nice to not have to worry about dinner that first week.

  49. So glad you posted this- we were just discussing this yesterday! Alternatives to lasagna are always good. Chicken Pot Pie, Mac & Cheese, and Chicken Parmesan are always well received. Love this blog!
    The Newlywed Chefs’s last post: Get Excited…

  50. Heather Moll says:

    I’ve been blessed to give and receive meals as well. I can honestly say that there is nothing that meant more to me than someone taking the time to think of me and thoughtfully prepare a meal for my family. It has meant the world to me when I have received them and I know it has done the same for others when I’ve given them a meal. There is something so comforting about food, isn’t there?! :)

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