Providing Meals for Others

by Erin, The $5 Dinner Mom on December 11, 2008

Aly from CA writes:

“I am constantly being asked to provide a meal for another Mom in our group who has just had a baby or has another life-changing event in their life. I LOVE to do this, and I love that doing so helps teach my 3 kids about helping others, giving, and compassion. My concern however, is doing so on a budget and in a way that doesn’t put more stress into my life than I already have!”

Aly is indeed in a dilemma. A dilemma that I too have faced a number of times! Let’s reduce the stress! And remove the frustration out of giving!

Here are a few meals that are not only frugal, but will freeze and transort well!

More meal ideas can be found in the Recipe Index.
Another Idea:
This is something that my aunt’s church does as part of their Hospitality Ministry. They call it “Cooks for Christ”.
Once a month, 6-7 women gather in the church’s kitchen (or someone’s home if no kitchen is available) to prepare easy freezer meals for the month. They prepare for those who they know will be needing a meal, as well as a few extras for those unexpected circumstances. They are stored in the church’s deep freezer (or someone’s personal deep freezer) until they are needed. The funds can come from the church’s budget or from donations collected from the congregation. This helps take the pressure off of one person to always be making meals or asking others to make meals.

Laura at OrgJunkie.com just did a great freezer meals round-up recently! You can check it out here.

Tips and Tricks:

1. Each time I cruise down the baking aisle, I check on the prices of the “disposable” baking dishes. I would imagine they would be on sale around the Christmas holiday, as they were on sale around Thanksgiving.
2. Ziploc coupons for their disposable containers come out at least once a month in the newspaper inserts. I always clip them. If I see the containers on sale, then I will buy them with the coupon. I like to get the larger ones that can be used for soups, salads or bread. (I generally do casseroles in the disposable baking dishes.)
3. When taking a meal to a new mom or someone who recently had surgery, take plastic forks, spoons, plates, etc as well. This way all the dishes and containers can be disposed of. No clean up involved. They will thank you, I promise! (I realize this is not the best for the environment!)
4. If you do leave a baking dish or tupperware container that you wish returned, mark your dish or leave a note to remind them which dish belongs to you! It is likely they will not remember yours from someone elses!

I hope this list of recipes and tips/tricks helps take the stress and frustration out of making meals for others!

What is your favorite dish to take to others who are in need of a meal?

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

The Meal Planner December 11, 2008 at 10:51 pm

Our church is fairly small, so it’s not very often that we are asked to make a meal for a new mom. Whenever I am asked to do so, I like to make something that will knock their socks off and make them feel really special. My favorite dish to bring is Beef with Green Beans in Peanut Sauce served over Vermicelli Noodles: http://themealplanner.blogspot.com/2008/04/stir-fried-beef-with-green-beans-in.html. It’s really tasty for the parents and pretty kid-friendly because of the peanut butter, so I really aim to please the whole family with this one.

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Terra Jones December 12, 2008 at 7:59 am

Thanks for those recipes! We have a large church and are social butterflies and seem to know all the pregnant people :) We’re always making an extra meal! :) I love it, but it does put a burden on the budget.

My favorite meal to make is Taco Bake – http://terrastreats.wordpress.com/2008/04/15/taco-bake/

thanks!

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Brooke December 12, 2008 at 10:04 am

my chili recipe is very inexpensive.

depending on the price of ground beef, i can fix it for about $3-$4.

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Erin December 12, 2008 at 10:34 am

We label all of our dishes after remembering how hard it was to remember whose was whose. Another hint, if you are the recipient, wash it and write the thank you not immediately and put it in the dish! That is how I kept it straight!

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Anonymous December 12, 2008 at 4:24 pm

If you want a dish returned, just put one of your address labels on the bottom! I do a lot of freezer meals for others and have found “real” metal baking pans at the dollar type stores for as little as 75 cents each.

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Kath December 12, 2008 at 6:04 pm

Some lovely ideas! Thanks for sharing. :~) Remember though, if the meal is for a new mom and family, go easy on onions and peppers. If she is nursing it could upset her babies stomach.

This I, unfortunately, learned from experience. The poor wee thing so miserable because I’d had a bbq sandwich.

Thank you for sharing all of your great ideas! I appreciate you.
Blessings,
Kath

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Christielulu December 13, 2008 at 3:15 pm

I always make beef enchilidas. This is not super expensive. I triple the recipe and it will make about 6 pans. I buy the disposable pans and have them ready in the freezer when I know that babies are coming and also opportunities to bless others. I add chips and salsa and sometimes a salad and brownies. If the familiy has small kids I will also put in chocolate pudding or something kid friendly.

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Marcy December 19, 2008 at 8:41 pm

Today I just took food to a friend who had a baby recently…wish I had read these tips earlier…you have some great ones. Thanks!

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Your Frugal Friend, Niki December 31, 2008 at 1:23 am

You’re my hero for writing this! I am VP of my local MOMS Club so every month it seems like I am trying to figure out what dish to take a new mommy!

:)

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Felicity January 19, 2009 at 6:24 pm

This is exactly the information I have been looking for! Thank you! We have the same setup at my Church and once a month I cook up a batch of food (usually around 14 individual serves) and I’m always on the look out for variety!

Thanks :)

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Heather January 25, 2009 at 12:11 am

This is my fav to take to people, lil ones seem to love it a lot

Baked Spaghetti

3/4 cup chopped onion
3/4 cup chopped green pepper
1 tablespoon butter
1 (28 ounce) can tomatoes, cut up
1 (4 ounce) can sliced mushrooms
1 (2-1/4 ounce) can sliced ripe olives
2 teaspoons oregano
1 pound ground beef, browned & drained
1 (16 ounce) jar spaghetti sauce
16 ounces spaghetti, cooked
8 ounces shredded cheddar cheese
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

Sauté onion and green pepper in butter until tender. Add next 6
ingredients and simmer for 15 minutes. Place half of spaghetti in
greased 13x9x2-inch baking dish. Top with half sauce mix and half
cheese. Repeat layers. Mix soup and water. Pour over casserole.
Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 40 to 45 minutes or until hot and bubbly.

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Valerie Bruce January 18, 2011 at 2:38 pm

40% off at Sprouts Market.
(cut in 1/2~so my family would have a meal over the weekend)
I made my first tri tip (brisket) for a family that had a loved one in the hospital.
Easy. Marinaded the night before. Wrapped in aluminum foil, with a disposable
(and recyclable aluminum foil pan). In addition to the main course, boiled frozen
veggies and made some yummy mashed potatoes to go along. Delivered everything
in small aluminum containers w/lids. Everything was recyclable.

Glad to have found this website~saw you on FoxNews.

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