12 Not-So-Obvious Times to Take a Meal
I just started a batch of chicken soup because I have a dear friend who could use some comfort this week. As I've thought about it, I've realized this isn't a situation when I'd normally take a meal. In fact, there may be many other occasions when a meal would be extremely helpful to someone, but it might not be obvious to us because we haven't experienced their particular circumstance.
Here are a few that come to mind:
1. Job loss - The obvious reason a meal might be helpful to someone during a job loss is that finances could be tight. Even if there aren't money concerns, the meal can be a huge encouragement! Knowing that someone is thinking of you during a difficult time provides motivation and hope that better times are ahead.
2. Foster parents - These individuals often care for children who have faced truly difficult times. Often, the transition can be rocky even when the arrangement turns out to be a good fit for everyone. I often offer to take a meal during a birth or adoption, but taking a meal to new foster parents could be a great help, as well.
3. Separation - If a friend is recently separated, a meal could be a blessing, especially if children are involved. Marital separation is extremely stressful for school-age children and a meal will lighten everyone's load for an evening. The acknowledgement that you know it's a difficult time is a gift to the family.
4. Follow up appointments - I've heard from a co-worker that her young son's long days of doctor appointments are exhausting. A friend offered to have dinner waiting for her upon her arrival home, a gesture which was a great help to my friend after a tiring day at the hospital. Even after surgeries are over, meals can help make all of the additional appointments easier.
5. Child leaving for college - Maybe because I'm getting closer to this stage myself, my heart really goes out to other moms when their first child leaves for college. This fall, our neighborhood friend left for his freshmen year at Virginia Tech and I knew my family would miss seeing him more regularly. And, of course, I knew his family would miss him. I debated whether to take a meal, but I'm so glad I did. We walked the meal to their house and enjoyed hearing about how the drop-off went. There may have been a few shared tears as well.
6. Husband or wife on business trip - When one parent travels, especially for an extended period of time, it can be difficult to keep a household going. My brother-in-law recently went to Europe for business and I knew it was going to be a long 10 days for my sister-in-law. I wish she lived close enough from me to cook for her, but a sent a gift card to give her a break from cooking one night.
7. Anniversary of a death - Especially the first two years, it meant the world to me when someone remembered the week that my dad died. The date of a loss is often very significant for those who were affected, so when someone remembers the date in a special way, the gesture is appreciated. After living through this myself, I often offer to bring dinner on the first anniversary of a loss.
8. Kitchen renovation - A few years ago, our pastor was renovating his kitchen and several of us at church decided to bring over a few nights of meals. I think it goes without saying why this is a great idea!
9. Potty training - This might seem funny if you've never done this before, but potty training needs your attention. Sure, someone who is potty training a child can definitely cook dinner at the same time, but it's so much better if you don't have to cook. And, having another adult come to the door with a meal and some conversation is a breath of fresh air!
10. Death of pet - In our house, our beloved dog is like a family member. She has never said a harsh word and she has been there for us during life's toughest times. I did some pet-sitting for a family when I was in college and when their dog passed away the owners received a meal and a beautiful plant that had dog biscuits placed throughout, as if they were flowers. I saw how much this meant to the owners and, even before I had my own dog, I realized how much acknowledgment of a pet loss can mean.
11. Mother of the Bride - When one of our neighbors was planning her daughter's wedding many years ago, I saw how busy she was leading up to the wedding. As a newlywed myself, I wasn't in the habit of taking meals at the time, but I made her a lasagna for the freezer that she could use when needed. I remember tying a ribbon around it with two decorative silver wedding bands. She was thrilled - more thrilled than I expected.
12. Anxiety & Depression - If you hear that a friend is dealing with anxiety or depression, know without a doubt that the family would be helped by a meal. Maybe your friend is struggling, or the spouse, or a child. No matter who it is, a meal will be helpful. These struggles can leave families feeling alone and they often don't reach out for help because others might not understand.
This is certainly not a complete list, but it's a start. I would love to know what you would add to the list!
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