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Dinner Is Served: Making Meals for Others

One of the long traditions of living in a caring community is taking a meal to a family in need.  Mom has a baby?  Send over pot roast.  Son has surgery?  Send over lasagna.  Dad is sick?  Send over some chicken noodle soup!

Hospitality isn’t my God-given spiritual gift, so I’m a slow-learner when it comes to responding in service to those in need.  I’m so worried about whether I’ll make a meal that they don’t like or cause more inconvenience to the family.  When I visit hospitals, I’m afraid I’ll be an annoyance or tire someone out.

Yet, sometimes it’s not so much what we do or getting it all right or making the perfect meal that counts.  What matters is just showing we care at all.  It’s better to take that first step, make an attempt to reach out, and be willing to learn how to grow in this area than simply to ignore the hurts and needs of those around us.

Since I’ve been learning lessons for years about the hospitable art of taking a meal, I thought I’d share some of my favorite tips with you.

  • Involve your kids: What better way to teach your kids how to “love one another” than get them involved in taking meals to other families?  Once when my kids heard of one of their Awana leaders who was having back pain, they told me, “We should take her some dinner!”  They even picked out the meal we could serve, including fresh bread and some brownies for dessert.  I loved that they were thinking of others and of practical ways to show God’s love.
  • Coordinate with others:  If several people will be bringing dinners to a family, be sure to talk about it together.  You don’t want everyone to show up with pasta.  Five nights of spaghetti sauce and noodles could be a bit overwhelming!  When a friend’s husband was diagnosed with cancer, one of her friends used this incredible online tool to coordinate meals called Take Them a  Meal

    With one email message, she told everyone details like: What time the family normally eats dinner and what kind of foods the family was allergic to or didn’t like and other helpful hints and requests.  Then, people could log in, sign up for a day, and tell others what meal they would bring so we could provide variety.  This was the easiest meal coordination I’ve ever seen in action!
  • Know the facts:  If you are going it alone or aren’t using a tool like Take Them a Meal, find out this info:
    • Know what they are allergic to.
    • Know what they don’t like or do like.
    • Know what time they eat dinner.
    • Know what night dinner would be a help to them.
    • Know how many people you’ll need to feed.
  • Have recipes on hand that are tried and true:  Know in advance some meals that you make that would work well for delivery and for the family to reheat the next day.  I have go-to recipes like lasagna, chicken parmesan, crock pot meatballs, pepperoni pasta (for families with kids).
  • Make enough to keep and share:  I have a husband and three kids of my own, so I like to take meals that I can make a bunch of and then split into some for them and some for us.  That makes one cooking session feed two families.
  • Accessorize:  Why stick with one casserole?  Add in a yummy bread, a salad, and a simple dessert.  Make things for them that show thoughtfulness and extravagant care.  You could even throw in some paper plates and napkins so no one has to do clean-up duty.
  • Gift cards are welcome, too:  If you don’t cook or life is just so busy that meal delivery is too much to handle, gift cards are a good choice.  In fact, sometimes they are a better option for families who are on the road visiting a hospital and will be stopping for dinner every night at local restaurants and fast food places.  They also allow families to treat themselves to a night out and to choose foods they really like.  It might not be old-fashioned hospitality, but it can be a great way to provide practical help and care for a family under stress.

Whether you’re making your world-famous chicken casserole or sending a gift card to Chic fil-A, there are practical ways we can reach out to others.  Providing a meal is a perfect way to fulfill Jesus’ command to “Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other” (John 13:34 NLT).

Copyright © 2008-2015 Heather King

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