Setting Up a Meal Schedule for Hard Situations
Your friend is suddenly facing a very difficult situation and you know that having meals prepared by friends for a few days, weeks, or months would be a huge help. We know these times can be overwhelming and confusing because the onset is so sudden. Here are some helpful questions for you to ask your friend when you discuss setting up a meal schedule:
Q: Is anyone coordinating meals for you?
If no one is filling this role, offer to be the meal coordinator. If your friend seems hesitant to accept help (although you know it’s needed), you could say, “I know it’s hard to accept help, but there are so many people who would like to care for you by preparing meals. You are giving your friends a gift by allowing them to do this for you.”
Q: How many days a week would it be helpful to have meals?
In difficult circumstances, 3-4 weeks of meals is a good start and you can suggest 3-4 meals per week. You can always extend your meal schedule, if needed. You want to find the balance of enough food, but not too much food. You might also ask if there are certain days of the week that would work best, and also whether breakfast and lunch could be helpful on certain days.
Q: What groups of people would you like to know about the meal schedule?
This will often include friends, neighbors, co-workers, church members, and more -- but it is best to ask your friend how widely they would like the schedule to be shared.
Q: Should the person bringing your meal come to the door?
If it is a situation where it will be difficult for someone at the home to greet the meal providers (sadness, reduced immunity, desire for privacy, etc.), a cooler can be placed outside the front door with a note asking for the meal to be placed in the cooler. You can also arrange for meals to be delivered to a neighbor or friend and that same person can deliver each meal.
Q: Is there a day or days when a large group of people will be at home for meals?
This often happens in the form of a funeral meal, or other family gatherings after significant life events. PerfectPotluck.com can be helpful for coordinating those large group meals.
Q: Is there anything else that would be helpful to you during this time?
Oftentimes, your friend's needs will extend beyond just meals -- whether that be to have someone check in on them occasionally, or a ride to medical treatment, etc. Take the opportunity while discussing their meal needs to find out other ways you can be of help to them.
Q: What else do meal providers need to know as they prepare to bring you a meal?
- What time should the food be delivered?
- What are the food preferences (likes/dislikes) and allergies?
- What carry out restaurants and gift card locations are preferred?
- What are the names, ages, and interests of children in the home?
- What extra supplies are helpful? (paper towels, napkins, etc.)
- What freezer/refrigerator space is available for meals?
Above all, check back with your friend regularly to see what else might be helpful as their situation changes over time.
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