Giving the Gift of Cooking

by Erin, The $5 Dinner Mom on April 27, 2009

Today’s post comes from Tricia at Onceamonthmom.com.
I love to cook. I even love to eat, most days. But there always seems to be more things that I want to cook than I have time (or waist line) to eat. That is why I have started gifting some of our meals to friends, neighbors and family.

In our household we cook once a month for our entire meals that month. That leaves easy meals in the freezer to make on days when I want to cook but don’t have time to prepare a nice meal. It also leaves meals that I can easily take to friends and family members when they are tired, ill, dealing with an emergency or just for fun. There have been several occasions recently when friends have emailed to say that they were having a family emergency they would like us to pray for. I have taken these opportunities not only to pray for them, but to be waiting at their door when they arrived home with a home cooked meal. You can imagine what a great look of relief we receive when we arrive with a meal to someone who has just spent the day at the hospital with a loved one; or to a mom who has been sick all day but whose family still needs to eat.

Do you regularly use your gift or love for cooking to bless other people? If not, I encourage you to think about doing so. Even in tough economic times, there are ways to do this quickly and easily, without spending a lot of money. Here are a few easy steps you can take to have meals prepared ahead of time.

1. Choose a few freezer-friendly recipes that you will make ahead of time in bulk and store them in your freezer. Having the meals readily cooked means you don’t have to run to the store to buy grocery items at the last minute. Here are a few of my favorite recipes for having available in my freezer to take to other families:
These recipes freeze well but they can either be thawed in the microwave or cooked straight from the freezer by just doubling the baking time. They are also great comfort foods.
2. Keep these recipes close at hand and when ingredients go on sale or you have accumulated all of the ingredients, make a big batch. If you buy items when they are on sale and then make the meals ahead and freeze, you will also won’t have to spend a lot of money on these meals.
3. Use throw away foil pans, zipper-type freezer bags or disposable plastic containers. Using these types of items will save you from having to retrieve your pans or dishes at a later date. You can usually find these items fairly cheap at Dollar stores.

4. Keep your eyes and ears open for need in your community. I have trained myself to listen closely to when people are in need. Whether it is that they are communicating that they are sick, have a busy week, or are experiencing a family emergency. When I hear the first sign of distress I mobilize my meals to the microwave or oven and contact them for a drop-off time.

So do your friends and family a favor and use your desire to cook to bless them the next time they are going through a hard time. It is a wonderful way to use the talents that you have been given.

Tricia recently had her first child and is getting used to her new career as a stay-at-home mom in Ohio, where her family resides. She and her co-author, Cortney, are trying to show others how to be good stewards of their time and their money while still providing wholesome and nutritious meal options to their families. Her website, http://www.onceamonthmom.com, is dedicated to “making daily chores monthly memories” by providing monthly meal plans, grocery lists, instructions, recipes and more for families curious about once-a-month cooking or baby food.

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Authentic Italian Food April 27, 2009 at 8:32 am

Yes, I have been the recipient of food gifts a ocuple of times. nce whent my fatehr dies and I was staying with my mother. Mountains of soup turned up which kept us going for more than a week. We didn’t want to eat much else. The second time my 3 year old was hit by a car and was in intensive care for 2 weeks and hospital for 6. Coming home to see my 5 year old didn’t leave me feeling like cooking but thnaks to friends I had a couple of shepherds pies and lasagnes on tap. My child is now 10 and fit.

Personally i like to make italian food for friends because it is so universally loved, quick to make and of course delicious. For a friend in need I would make “spag bol”, minestrone soup,lasagne *not all at once of course) and finally a little but of luxury – Tiramisu. In Italian Tiramisu means “pick me up” and how fitting this could be.

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Scotti April 27, 2009 at 5:00 pm

When our son was a newborn, our friends organized meal deliveries for us and they made such a difference. Now I’ve made it my personal mission to deliver a meal to every new family I know. Jut this last month I delivered 4!

I’m not organized enough to have a stable of recipes together – but most anything works well. I just always check to see if they have food allergies or preferences. I include a main dish (usually a soup or something that will be a couple meals worth), a bag of salad and some already chopped veggies to go on top and some kind of dessert (like yummy Trader Joe’s chocolates).
I’ve also organized meal deliveries for multiple friends – I’ve used email and Google calendar pretty successfully, but recently found a free website that works well too: http://www.mealbaby.com

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susieshomemade April 27, 2009 at 8:39 pm

This is such a great thing to do for people. Thanks for some great suggestions in order to do this:-)

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Jen@Sunshine4Teachers April 27, 2009 at 9:26 pm

I love this idea for a teacher gift too! My girls both have teachers who work more like 7am to 7pm most days instead of the nice relaxing 8am to 3pm job some people envision they have. This would be a perfect teacher gift when you know they have a staff meeting or conferences that will make their busy schedule even busier.

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Emily April 28, 2009 at 2:57 pm

Thanks for such an encouraging post! I have always wanted to bless others with meals, but with a toddler and another baby on the way, sometimes I have trouble getting a meal on the table for my own family! What a great idea to have frozen meals ready, both for my family, and to give away. I will definitely be checking out onceamonthcooking.com!

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Jennifer April 29, 2009 at 8:21 am

I recently had surgery on my finger. Twice actually and the second time also included a 3 day hospital stay. My sister (who had been babysitting for my surgery) cleaned my house and the next night brought dinner to my husband and kids. I had pretty much used all my easy meals and frozen meals after the first surgery and had nothing to cook. Another friend brought me dinner a few nights later. Between those 2 meals my family ate well for 4 dinners and it was such a huge blessing to not have to worry about cooking, since I couldn’t really do it anyway. I have to remind myself that taking dinner to someone is for more than just when they have a baby.

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Vanderbilt Wife April 30, 2009 at 12:52 pm

We were blessed to have friends from Sunday School bring some meals when our daughter was born. It is such a hectic time, those meals really mean a lot!

I almost always take this when going to feed a family:
http://www.vanderbiltwife.com/2009/02/publix-bargain-meal-3-218-224.html

I’ve found a loaf-pan full is great if it’s just two adults eating–that way there won’t be tons of leftovers. I double the recipe and make three loaf pans full, and pull them out when we want to take a meal to someone. The ziti with a bag salad and a box of Texas Toast makes a delicious and inexpensive meal that almost everyone loves!

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How I Lost Thirty Pounds in Thirty Days May 4, 2009 at 7:20 am

Hi, good post. I have been thinking about this issue,so thanks for writing. I’ll certainly be coming back to your site.

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Patrick Del Rosario November 25, 2012 at 1:43 am

Good thing that you share this, I have a single parent mother and she works round the clock and I heard that she rarely sleeps for at least 3 hours a day just to attend to the jobs that she accepted in order for he to support her kids and she doesn’t have time to cook for her 2 kids and just asked her sister to share food with them. I would double my serving this time and deliver it personally in their house so they can have stocks in their freezer. Thanks for this wonderful idea.

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