featured/ fellowship/ FOOD & FELLOWSHIP/ lagniappe/ ministry & service

Meals for Friends: My Top 10 Tips & Why It Matters

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Bringing meals for friends is one of my greatest joys and blessings. I love sharing food with friends. Planning a special meal. Bringing a smile and a hug to someone who needs it. Providing for their physical needs. Adding just a little “lagniappe.”

I Need Help. A Lot of Help.

I am the first to admit it – I need help. A lot of help. I am so grateful for the friends that surrounded us with love and filled our bellies with food after each of our babies was born. Whether they delivered a homemade meal or sent a gift-card or dropped off deli pizzas from Aldi – every single one of them gifted me with time and rest in addition to yummy food.

When everyone in our family was so sick and I could hardly get out of bed – a friend dropped off food on my doorstep and talked to me from the yard while I stood on the porch. The smile and kind words that friend gave me that day broke through the loneliness I was experiencing in that season, and encouraged my soul more than she knows. She met me in my weakest moment. And her kindness reminded me of how generously God provides for all our needs.

Why Bringing Meals to Friends Matters

Bringing a meal to a friend who just had a baby, or is sick, or just going through a hard time may seem like something small. Like a drop in the bucket of a life overflowing with needs. But here’s the thing. Our physical needs matter. They matter to God, our ultimate Provider. Jesus tells us time and time again in the Bible that he cares for our needs…

Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. I do not want to send them away hungry…”

Matthew 15:32

Then he fed them. He didn’t just use a metaphor or share a spiritual truth. He fed them with physical food. And spiritual food, too. He met their every need. He knew that if they were hungry, then they were weak. And while we can’t meet the every need of those around us like Jesus could, we can follow His example in meeting physical needs.

No matter what season you are in, there are ways you can serve those around you by blessing them with a meal. It does NOT have to be elaborate, or even homemade. But if you are bringing a homemade meal, there are a few things you can do to make it a little extra, a little lagniappe.

My Top 10 Tips for Bringing Meals to Friends

  1. Consider the needs. Are you bringing a meal to someone who is sick? Then make it extra nutritious and include bone broth and lots of veggies. A mom who just had a baby and could be breastfeeding? Don’t make it super spicy. I had to cut out dairy with 3 of my babies, and that was tough with all the delicious casseroles we received! And always include at least one fruit and vegetable so they have something nutritious. Sometimes I can get caught up in making everything delicious and forget to include fruits and veggies. If/when I do, I will just cut up some fruit and grab a bag salad on my way to drop off the food.
  2. Next: Read all instructions on the meal train. Ok – this one seems obvious, but there are several times that I’ve missed things! Be sure to read all instructions about how many people you are feeding, when to deliver, as well as types of foods to avoid. You can also look to see what everyone else is bringing so you can bring something different. No-one wants to eat pizza 10 days in a row. Actually, that wouldn’t be so bad. But you get the point!
  3. Don’t forget the kids. Some kids will eat anything, but chances are if there is a young kid involved, you may want to consider their needs as well. A meal without fussing is a gift for mom and dad as well. And if they’ve just become a big sibling, it’s nice to bring a little something special just for them, to let them know they are remembered. And if you have kids at home – let them help you! In addition to learning kitchen skills, consider what a gift it is for them to learn firsthand how to care for others.
  4. When you’re choosing what to make, pick food that travels well. And I highly recommend cooking casseroles before transporting. Most of the time, they are much easier to take on the road once they are cooked!
  5. Want to really go the extra mile? Bring dessert, drinks, any sauces needed, AND…breakfast for the next day! Mornings can be extra hard when you’ve been up all night with a newborn. Especially if you have other kids that wake up WAY too early (ahem). Having an easy breakfast to pull out is such a gift. And don’t forget the coffee (or tea). Every new parent needs a little caffeine!
  6. Use containers that don’t need to be returned. It is a lot to remember and coordinate returning things when you have a newborn or are dealing with sickness. I saw this idea shared recently: pick up a vintage casserole dish next time you are at the thrift store. Gift it the next time you bring a meal, and then they can pass it on to the next person they bring a meal to. Such a fun idea! I like to use disposable containers with lids to save on dishes for the recipient. I’ll link to some good ones below.
  7. Speaking of saving the recipient from doing dishes…Include paper plates or bowls, plastic cups, paper napkins, and plasticware for the meal. Can you tell my least favorite part of cooking is cleaning up and doing the dishes?!?
  8. Make it extra special. Bring a card. A small gift for the new mom. Coffee for the new dad. An immune support roller or epsom salts for someone who is sick. An activity or even a lollipop for a new big sibling (Water Wow books are my favorite!). Diapers for the newborn. Babies need SO many diapers! 
  9. Finally – plan ahead. Check in with the family/contact on the day of. Make sure the time included on the mealtrain is still the best time to deliver, and see if there are any specific instructions. Text when you’re on the way (or if you’re running late). And don’t forget to account for traffic. Obviously my strong suit is not planning ahead and being on time. Luckily my friends are usually very gracious with me!
  10. This last tip is my best tip: work smarter, not harder. When you are taking a meal to a friend, double it up and feed your family as well! It’s usually much easier to double a recipe than to make 2 entirely different meals. 

My final word of advice (and speaking this over myself as well) – it doesn’t have to be perfect! A meal made (or sent) with love is more than enough. Give yourself the same grace that you would extend to your friend. 

My Favorite Meals to Bring to Friends

My favorite meal to bring when friends have babies is breakfast for dinner. This was the absolute favorite meal we received after we had baby #3, and it just stuck with me as something different that I really enjoyed. And honestly I really enjoy making breakfast as well. Here are some of the things I usually include:

  • Sausage Egg & Cheese Breakfast Casserole
  • Sweet Potato Hash (or simple bag of salad)
  • Fruit (I like to cut it up in bite-sized pieces to make it easy for small kids)
  • Muffins or a baked good of some kind
  • Yogurt
  • Homemade granola
  • Orange Juice
  • Coffee
  • Disposable plates, cups, napkins, plasticware

When a friend is sick, I like to make a big batch of bone broth, and bring them this healing chicken noodle soup with some homemade sourdough bread. 

Other Meal Ideas

  • Crock pot ham with Hawaiian rolls, and the best soy bacon green beans
  • Baked spaghetti or lasagna with garlic bread, and salad
  • Pot roast with roasted veggies
  • BBQ with baked beans and mac & cheese
  • Roast chicken with glazed carrots
  • Build-your-own Mexican rice bowls 
  • Baked potatoes or sweet potatoes with toppings
  • Chicken lettuce wraps
  • Chili with cornbread
  • Make-your-own pizza kit (dough, sauce, toppings) – This one is really fun for kids, just be sure to include baking instructions!

Still can’t think of something you want to bring? Reach out to the spouse or your friend to find out what they are craving. You can even ask for a family favorite recipe that they would enjoy and make it even more meaningful. 

Short on time? Send a gift card. Order pizza. Drop by with takeout. I have a friend who might not love to cook as much as me, but she is always so thoughtful about bringing food when we need it! She will often run by Aldi and grab a deli pizza, salad, and a dessert. And it is such a gift! 

What is your favorite meal to bring to a friend in need? I’d love to hear in the comments!

My Favorite Tools for Bringing Meals to Friends

You really don’t need any special tools to take meals to friends & family. But these things do come in handy!

So send me that meal train, momma. Let me know you’re having a rough week, friend. Because sharing your needs allows me to use my gifts to help take care of you. It blesses me as much as it blesses you, and probably more. We need each other, and that’s a beautiful thing!

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  • Madison
    September 30, 2022 at 11:33 pm

    Lots of great ideas! -especially the paper products and breakfast for next day.
    The writing style in this article is straight forward but wrapped in affection. Thanks for sharing 🙂

    • Mary Guillory
      October 11, 2022 at 10:51 pm

      Thanks so much, Madison!