My Favorite Meal to Take to a Friend in Need
I’ve had the opportunity to take meals to a lot of different friends and family members over the past couple of years. As I discussed in my post Ten Tips for Taking a Meal, meal-taking is a ministry for me! As a stay at home mom, it is often difficult to get out of the house to serve others, but I have found that making meals for people fits easily into my day, and is an act of love that really is uplifting to people in need! I take most of my meals to families with new babies at home, but I’ve also been able to take meals to those who are grieving the loss of a family member, women who have suffered a miscarriage, those who are taking care of loved ones in the hospital, and to those who are recovering from a debilitating illness or injury.
So, needless to say, I have tried out many different meals as my “go-to” for meal-taking. I have found that when you take a lot of meals to people, it is best to have a set meal that you take every time because you can throw it together quickly, you are able to memorize the necessary ingredients so that you can easily add them to your grocery list, and you know exactly what you need in order to get it “packaged and delivered”. (Sizes of pans, types of containers, etc.)
These meal plans do not take allergies into consideration, I plan to write an allergy-sensitive meal-plan sometime soon, I’ll add a link to it here when it is done!
Also, as a reference, when I say “a lot of meals” my goal is AT LEAST one per month, and NO MORE THAN one per week. I had to put this limit on myself because I’m not very good at saying no, but it isn’t that hard when you’re signing up for meal schedules to coordinate & organize yourself so that you’re taking only one each week. Most meal schedules will include 3-6 weeks of meal-taking opportunities, so you can space yourself out. This also makes it so that I can stick to my grocery budget each week. Making 2-3 meals a week for other people would definitely add to your grocery bill! (Which is great if you have that extra money to give, but my husband prefers that I space it out) 😉 And if once a month seems like a lot to you, or you think you don’t know that many people who need it, look around! I promise there is someone out there who could use it! Maybe even a neighbor you don’t know well yet, a family member that you know is really stressed, anyone with children at home…people in need of a meal are out there, I promise.
Like I said, I’ve tried quite a few different meals to take, but here are two other meals that I’ve stuck with for awhile in the past because they worked well:
Meal 1: Shredded BBQ Chicken Sandwiches, Baked Cheesy Potatoes, Fruit, Lazy Cake Cookies, Lemonade
Meal 2: Chicken Parmigian Casserole, Garlic Bread, Caesar Salad Kit, Lazy Cake Cookies, Wine
Both of those are easy to make, and people generally like them! I liked doing fruit, but I found that it is not as versatile/easy to grab, prep, & send as a Salad Kit! The two staples that I still use are Garlic Bread & of course, Lazy Cake Cookies, a recipe I found on Pinterest, and that everyone asks for! Literally, everyone. They’re easy & amazing & only 4 ingredients! Anyways, I’ll get to those later. So, here is the meal that I’ve ended up using consistently based on the number of ingredients, ease of prep, and feedback from people who’ve received the meals! (Since I like taking meals I usually ask for honest feedback so I can adjust as needed):
My Favorite Meal to Take: Amish Country “Comfort” Casserole, Garlic Bread, Caesar Salad Kit, Lazy Cake Cookies, Lemonade or Wine, Cinnamon Rolls (for Breakfast)
Entree: Amish Country “Comfort” Casserole:
SO, the Amish Country “Comfort” Casserole has literally been one of my favorite meals that I’ve found on Pinterest! It works super well for meal taking because it does not have a lot of ingredients, it takes very little time to prep, it freezes well, it has a short bake time, and it is kid friendly! I’ve had 4 different people tell me that their kids loved it! It also uses egg noodles which I feel like are just extra comforting for some reason. <3 ALSO, (sorry so many great things) it is a beef recipe instead of chicken. Don’t get me wrong I LOVE chicken casseroles, but I do feel like when you are in a situation where people bring you meals you end up with a lot of different chicken recipes & casseroles, so I like doing a ground beef meal that isn’t lasagna. I found this recipe through Pinterest on Plain Chicken’s site. I LOVE her recipes and most of my favorites I’ve used over the years I have found on her site! She does quick & easy recipes which are exactly what I need as a mom with young kids. Anyways, here is her recipe that I use several times a month: Amish Country Casserole by Plain Chicken
Some pictures I took while making Amish Country Casserole recently! Yum!
Side #1: Garlic Bread
Garlic Bread is just a staple for comfort food in my opinion if you are serving any type of noodle casserole. But, I’m also obsessed with garlic bread, so this might just be a personal preference. 🙂 My favorite garlic bread is shown below from Aldi, (which you can order and have delivered to your door with Instacart! What?!?! Yup.) It is super simple to make, it takes 5-7 minutes at 425 degrees in the oven. It can be stored on the counter, in the fridge, or in the freezer. Super versatile, quick, and easy which makes it great for meal-taking! You can also buy any frozen garlic bread to take. I like to use the fresh Aldi garlic bread if they will be eating the meal that night, and a frozen type of garlic bread if you are taking them a meal to freeze for later.
Side #2: Caesar Salad Kit or Frozen Veggies
Something I did not even know that existed until I had my second child and people brought me meals was a Caesar Salad Kit! I do like salad, I do NOT like salad prep. So a package that contains everything I need to make my salad is a no-brainer for me. For meal-taking purposes, this goes great with a noodle dish & garlic bread, it is easy to take because the person can just make it quickly in their own salad bowl at home, and it can be stored in the fridge until they are ready to eat it! If you are taking a meal that you know will be frozen for at least several days, send frozen vegetables instead (I usually go with green beans).
I don’t find that people often bring breakfast for the next morning, but when you’ve been up with a baby all night, or up in pain all night, or are just grieving and don’t want to get out of bed, it is nice to have something for breakfast that will taste good and be comforting, but is also quick and easy. I usually just grab a canister of cinnamon rolls which are quick and easy for them in the morning, but also comforting!
Fresh & Frozen Side Options, plus Cinnamon Rolls for Breakfast!
Dessert: Lazy Cake Cookies!
Okay, so I was not kidding, almost every person that I take Lazy Cake Cookies to has asked me for the recipe. The great thing is that they are SO EASY! They are great for meal-taking because you can make them in a 9×13 pan, they only use four ingredients, and everyone loves them. This is obviously another of my favorite go-to recipes that I found on Pinterest. She mentions that mini chocolate chips can be hard to find, but I always find mine at Aldi! Here is the recipe: Lazy Cake Cookies by I’m a Lazy Mom
These literally take me under 5 minutes now to prep!
Drink: Lemonade or Wine
This is kind of an extra thing that is not really necessary, but I think it is a nice touch. Depending on whether or not the family I’m taking food to drinks wine, I will either take wine or lemonade. Lemonade is nice if they have kids because its an extra fun thing. My family pretty much drinks water or milk, so anything else is a fun surprise. 🙂
Okay! That is it! Whew! Thank you for sticking with me through all of that! 🙂 Here are what the two different “packaged and ready to deliver” meals would look like (frozen option & fresh option). One tip – Always write instructions on anything that needs to be baked! I actually write on anything that is wrapped in aluminum. I put what it contains, if it is already baked, and if not, how to thaw & bake it!
Option 1: Fresh Meal!
Option 2: Frozen Meal!
One more thing – Just a reminder, that having your groceries delivered, or picking them up are both great ways to save time and make it easier on yourself long-term to continue making meals for people. I have tried both of the following and highly recommend them. Whichever you try, you & I both get $10 off if you try it! 🙂
Instacart Grocery Delivery:
It’s crazy and super convenient. You can pay for year-long free delivery for around $150, or you can pay per time and I think it is around $5-6 per order. You can also tip your driver on top of that. For me, with two little kids at home, it is worth an extra $10 to not have to go to the store with my kids, plus I stick to my grocery list and my budget and don’t overspend by grabbing random things off of the shelves! If you’re interested in trying out Instacart (and seeing if they deliver in your area-they do other stores besides Aldi too) then click my link, and you get free delivery on your first time! You can also sign up for a 14 day free trial of free delivery, but make sure you cancel it before the end of the two weeks or you will automatically get charged $150 for free delivery all year. (Which really at $12.50 a month isn’t bad, but would be a shock on your bank statement if you weren’t expecting it!)
Here is my Instacart link for Free Delivery & $10 Off Your First Order if you want to check it out!
Wal-Mart Grocery Pick-Up:
Tried Walmart Grocery pick-up today just to compare to Aldi’s Instacart, and I actually really loved it. The produce they selected looked great, the prices are the same as in-store prices where Instacart can charge you slightly more, and the customer service experience was great. There is also no service fee or delivery charge or tipping which adds an extra $10-15 to my Aldi orders thru Instacart. I even got a freebie welcome bag for using Wal-Mart Grocery Pick-up! If you haven’t tried it yet, and you use my link you get $10 off and I get $10 too 🙌 Also here’s a picture of what was in my Welcome Bag:
Wal-Mart Grocery Pick-Up $10 off link: http://r.wmt.co/irX8P
Okay, that is everything! I hope you found some helpful ideas for taking meals to the people in need in your community! Also, don’t forget to check out my post Ten Tips for Taking a Meal so that you make receiving a meal the best experience possible for the people you are taking the time to care for!
Let me know what your favorite meals are to take to people!