Contributed by Tiffany Silverberg
When your friend is sick, a home-cooked meal may be just what the doctor ordered. If you are planning to take a meal to a friend who is under the weather, plan your delivery to ensure you bring comfort, rather than added stress. Put together a menu of diverse, healthy meals, with heart-healthy fats and lean proteins to facilitate healing. Plan ahead, with strategic delivery, to make sure your friend has the foods he needs at the right time.
Schedule at Mealtimes
One of the easiest things you can do when you take a meal to a friend is schedule it at just the right time. Talk with your friend or their caregiver to figure out when they usually like to eat. Show up with your meal 15 minutes or so before the time they want to eat. This way, they can accept the meal delivery and eat before the items have a chance to cool off, or warm up, depending on the item. This leaves your friend and their caregiver with the least amount of preparation or additional work.
When your friend is sick, he may not have been to the grocery store in a while or be up on basic ingredients and items in the kitchen. When you are preparing to take a meal to a sick friend, consider absolutely everything he may need to enjoy that meal to its fullest. Don’t forget dressings for salads, cheese toppings for tacos or pastas, or condiments. If your sick friend lives alone or only has a caregiver or partner, look for sample or personal size condiments, dressings, and more. If you can’t find a particular item packages or sold that way, deliver them in a reused jar or disposable container. You might also want to include a jug of tea or lemonade or a sweet treat for dessert.
When you take a meal to your friend, make sure everything is ready to be eaten. Have the salad already tossed, the bread sliced, the lasagna hot and cut into servings. As you are preparing the meal at home, envision arriving at your friend’s home. You will want to be able to place everything on the table, ready to be served and eaten. How would you prepare it before placing it on your table? Get all the ingredients to that point and you will make things easy when you arrive.
Keep hot items hot. Stews and soups can be poured directly into the crockpot and delivered hot. Baked potatoes, steaming corn on the cob, or warm biscuits can be wrapped in foil. Keep cold items in a cooler. Make sure there is plenty of ice or another cooling agent if you are delivering in the heat of the summer.
If it’s not convenient for you or your friend for you to take a meal right before mealtime, consider delivering cold items, in a cooler, that you can leave in an inconspicuous place. This is especially useful for friends whose immune systems are compromised. They can grab the cooler full of food at a time convenient for them and not worry about being exposed, or exposing you, to bacteria or viruses. This is a great time to create and deliver freezer friendly meals. Pack a few in the cooler and include specific heating or cooking instructions. Your friend will have meals at the ready whenever they need them and you can be sure they are eating healthy meals on the way to recovery.