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Seven Steps to Taking a Meal
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I must admit that before I had children, I was not familiar with the concept of taking a meal to a friend in need.  The meals we received after the birth of our first child were such a help and opened my eyes to a whole new world.  I still remember who brought meals and what delicious food they brought.  This was my introduction to receiving meals and learning what I should do when taking a meal to a friend.

So, what do you do if you’ve never taken meals to someone and you’ve been invited to participate in a meal schedule?  Here are the steps:

Choose what meal you would like to bring  Select a meal that fits with the recipient’s dietary needs and that you can transport easily.  Stick with what you know and what you are comfortable cooking.  It’s not the time to try something new because it will cause you unnecessary worry.  Over time, you will likely establish one or two meals that you take regularly and it will become second nature.  For meal ideas, check out the recipe section on TakeThemAMeal.com

Select your containers  After selecting your meal, think about what containers you could use to cook/transport the food.  It’s great to use containers that do not need to be returned to you and that you can label.  Some good examples are foil pans, Gladware (oven to table pans), Ziploc bags, Mason jars, washed out yogurt/sour cream containers, or extra dishes you no longer need.

Package items carefully  After preparing your meal and packaging the items, put everything you need to deliver in a box, basket, or gift bag.  Be sure to include reheating instructions, if needed, and it’s a nice touch to write out the menu.  This can be helpful if one of your items is a topping or if your main dish should go over the rice you included. 

Add a personal note or card  Including a personal note or card is a special touch as your words of encouragement will remain after the meal is gone.  Other possible items you could add to your meal are decorative paper products, a candle, flowers, a puzzle or a coloring book. 

Deliver your meal ready for the table  If possible, bring your meal warm and ready for the table at the requested time.  The recipient can always keep the meal warm for a little while, if needed.  If the family is accepting meals earlier in the day, you can bring the meal with the cooking or reheating directions.  If for any reason, you need to bring the meal earlier than the requested time, be sure to arrange this with the person who is coordinating the meals.

Don’t stay long  Your goal when taking the meal is to deliver the food and then be on your way.  This is not the time for an extended visit with the recipient.  In some cases it might be helpful to stay and visit, but as a general rule, it could be exhausting instead of helpful if everyone bringing a meal stayed for a visit each day.         

Follow up  After taking your meal, follow up with the recipient to see how they are doing one week, one month, three months, and/or six months later.  Just a quick “Thinking of you” can mean the world to someone who has gone through a time where meals were needed.

Taking a meal can be a fun and creative endeavor.  Most of all, it’s a great way to show someone that you care.  To read more from experienced meal providers and to see their recipes, go to http://www.takethemameal.com/recipes.php.  

 

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