Tuesday, April 23, 2013

guest contributor: coordinate the gift of meals

Welcome Michelle from The Whole EnCHELLEada to IHB as part of this week's guest contributor series! Today, she chooses a new Pinterest challenge and shows us how to coordinate the gift of a meal!

Whatever the reason – new baby, moving, injury or illness – the gesture of bringing someone a meal is a priceless gift. I recently coordinated a meal schedule for the arrival of my friend’s baby girl (any day!). We incorporated it into the baby shower, offering an opportunity to visit the baby and help nourish the sleep deprived parents.

While I’ve made meals for people in the past, this was my first coordinated effort and I turned to Pinterest for inspiration. I found plenty of meal ideas, but not much inspiration on how to coordinate. Fear not, dear readers! As a professional logistics coordinator and lover of planning I figured it out! And I'm sharing it with you!


How-to coordinate the gift of meals:
First, talk with the parents-to-be and find out 1) how often they’d like meals, 2) food allergies, 3) specific likes/dislikes, and 4) how to get in touch to schedule drop off/change.

Second, create guidelines using the information from the parents-to-be and with these helpful resources from Take Them a Meal and Scary Mommy Blog, put together a simple set of guidelines for people to follow. While some of these may seem intuitive to you, they may not be to everyone. The more help you provide up front, the easier it is for the new parents. Print a copy and bring to the shower.

Here are the guidelines I created:

THANK YOU for volunteering to feed the Smith family when the baby arrives! On your assigned day, please call/text to coordinate a drop off time: PHONE NUMBERS
The Smith’s address is:
  • The Smiths LOVE all types of foods except olives. They have no allergies!
  • Bring frozen meals or treats that won’t expire within 24 hours – they may already have a meal planned for that night.
  • Use disposable containers: tin foil pans or Ziploc containers work great.
  • Don’t forget about snacks/breakfast items – new parents need to eat more than just dinner, so feel free to include breakfast items or snacks. Items that can easily be eaten with one hand while feeding and holding a newborn – granola bars, muffins, scones, etc.
  • Please use a label to include cooking instructions and any items that go well with your meal.
Next, make a sign-up calendar: this could be done online via a shared calendar or if you’re at a baby shower, create a paper calendar. I’m all about technology, but the paper calendar is nice and easy for the parents-to-be to take home and have the meal schedule handy. I created this four week calendar in an effort to spread out the meals.


LabelsAdded bonus: create labels for people to put on the food. Not only can they make a container look cute, it’s also a helpful place to write cooking instructions. I found label templates on Pinterest (here are some really cute ones), but decided to make my own! I made them to coordinate with the baby shower invites (OCD much?) and printed them on full sheet label paper for easy attaching. I realized they were a little too big, so I made more with 4 labels/sheet, pictured below! I plan to keep these on hand for any time we make a meal for friends.


Send a reminder (optional) 
Extra credit: it may be helpful to send a message a week before the meals start to remind everyone of their date and the guidelines. If the baby arrives early (or in my friends case, late), you can have everyone shift their dates accordingly. This step may seem like overkill, but anything that helps the parents will be appreciated!

In the hopes of willing my friend’s baby to arrive, I put my meal together this weekend. Here is what I made:


Frozen breakfast burritos and power smoothies (power greens, strawberries, blackberries, banana, avocado and greek yogurt)! The juice is to mix with the smoothies. I put it all in a small bag and attached a homemade card (printable from eighteen25).

So there you have it! Have you ever coordinated meals? Received meals? If you have any tips, we’d love to hear them!!

3 comments :

  1. Thanks for sharing some really fun ideas. In our church we take meals in regularly to neighbors. Especially the elderly. Have found with them that the visit is as important as the meal. Thanks for sharing your creativeness with Share Your Cup.
    hugs,
    Jann

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  2. What great ideas and tips. Who wouldn't love to receive the help when the new baby first comes home? It can be exhausting. I'm so glad you joined us at Transformed Tuesday this week.

    Hugs,
    Peggy~PJH Designs

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  3. Great idea I love this! Thanks so much for linking up on Made in a Day last week!
    Kim

    ReplyDelete