Those of us lucky enough to live in close communities are often blessed with meal after major life events (births, illnesses, and deaths–though may we all share only simchas!) As a recent recipient of (baby) meals, a frequent giver of meals, and a coordinator of a website with a large and active community calendar for such events, I have some insights to share (please e-mail me if you want more information about this: Amital <at> organizedjewishhome <dot> com).
The recipients of the meals are grateful for them. Incredibly, truly grateful. It is a mitzvah for the givers and a real blessing for the recipients, who are in a time of turmoil (yes, a new baby is turmoil, too!). Not having to plan dinner on top of healing and adjusting to the changes is awesome! It makes day to day life in that time of transition much easier. Really.
But there are some things that make it less helpful. I want to phrase these in the positive because this is such a wonderful gift!
As the giver:
- Pay attention to allergies (!) and preferences. If none are listed/mentioned, ask.
- Deliver the meal on time. If you will be late, call. The family is probably waiting on you to eat!
- Be generous with portions, but not too generous. Check how many people are eating and send that amount – two adults don’t need and entire layer cake, for example. (Especially their hips.) At one time we had 5 big bags of salad in the refrigerator, and even with parents visiting, we couldn’t finish it all.
- Include labels. What kind of soup is it, and is it meat, dairy, or parve? A brief note of appropriate sentiments is also nice, but either way include your name.
- Give containers that you don’t expect back–aluminum or the “disposable” plastic containers.
- Consider reheating needs: if it should be baked, put it into foil or an aluminum pan instead of a plastic container. Directions are helpful too, especially since the person doing the reheating might not normally be doing that kind of kitchen work. (Everyone, repeat after me: aluminum DOES NOT go into the microwave! Just a PSA.)
- Ask about other meals around that time (or if you have a website, look!) Lasagna is great, but lasagna 4 times in a week might be enough. Probably. 🙂 Pasta and chicken are very popular, so other options are good, although lasagna #5 is still a blessing (freezer!)
As the recipient:
- Be home or make arrangements to get the meal another way. The giver has worked hard on this!
- Thank you notes are not required, but they are appreciated.
- Freeze things when it gets to be too much. Don’t waste the food! If you already have two partially eaten lasagnas in the fridge, please just freeze that third. You can pull it out when you really need it and don’t have meals scheduled. 🙂
Can you think of anything that should be added?
You might also like:
Chesed Meals Part 2: So what’s for dinner?
Chesed Meals Part 3: Shabbat meals
Chesed Meals Part 4: Some nice touches