How To Organize A Meal Train
One of the best ways to help exhausted parents of a newborn or families coping with illness or death is to organize a series of meal deliveries, also known as a “meal train.” To make meal giving easy:
• Use a free online invitation service such as mealtrain.com or takethemameal.com. Ask the recipients to pick the delivery dates and indicate any food allergies or preferences. You don’t want to bring a pot roast to a family of vegetarians! The service will invite participants, send reminders and allow contributors to post their planned dishes, so the recipients don’t end up with six lasagnas.
• Bring a complete meal. Adding in a salad kit, fresh bread and goodies will save folks a trip to the store for sides to accompany a lone casserole.
• Deliver dishes that are large enough for leftovers and freeze or reheat well. Here are some tips on freezing and thawing.
• Suggest that the recipients leave a cooler on the porch with a big “Thank you!” note, in case they are not home when food is delivered.
• Spare the recipients Tupperware anxiety. Put your name on all containers or dishware that you want back (return-address mailing labels work well), and schedule a pick-up. Or, use disposable containers such as those found here.
• Leave explicit heating or assembly instructions. For example: “To reheat, place in a 400° oven and bake, covered, for 1 hour.” Or: “Pour salad dressing (Container A) onto greens (B) and toss in toasted almonds (C) and mandarin oranges (D).”