Ministry meals are brought to friends or neighbors at a time when it’s challenging for them to prepare their own – such as a death in the family, the arrival of a new baby, recovery from an illness, or even a household move.
Back in the day, we organized them manually on a sign-up sheet. Now you’re more likely to receive an electronic invitation to participate in a “meal train” for someone in your church, neighborhood, or social network. Some of these coordination sites (in case you’re also the one organizing the meals) include Meal Train, Care Calendar, Food Tidings, Take Them A Meal, Sign Up Genius, and Meal Baby.
The beauty of these free electronic networks is that once you select an opening in the arranged schedule, all the information you need is available. You can easily go back and reference:
- The number of people in the household to feed
- Any allergies or dietary restrictions (peanuts, dairy, shellfish, etc.)
- Any strong dislikes (hate spicy food, smelly cheeses, mushrooms, etc.)
- Requested window of delivery
- Directions to the house and contact phone number
In addition, they can email you a reminder so you don’t forget you signed up. No one wants to be remembered for being the one who forgot to fulfill their commitment.
The Key To Memorable Ministry Meals
The key to memorable ministry meals is thoughtfulness. Aim to make the meal you offer a tangible expression of your care and concern for them. Because providing a meal to a family experiencing a life-altering transition is more than an opportunity to share your resources. It’s an opportunity to help bear their burden. Furthermore, it honors the One who said, regarding acts of compassion done for others, “As you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.” Aim to make the meal you offer a tangible expression of your care and concern for them. Click To Tweet
With these things in mind, here’s how to provide a memorable ministry meal:
1. Give your best – whatever that is. You want the recipient to open your meal and look forward to it. Use your best recipes. Remember that food awakens the senses. Make sad or traumatized taste buds want to lick their plate!
2. Make your meal complete. Prepare a main dish, a veggie side dish (or rolls is your main dish is veggie-heavy,) and dessert. It’s also really thoughtful to include a Ziplock bag of sliced fresh fruit or cubed cheese & crackers for a later snack.
3. Give attention to presentation. Use garnishes like parsley and lemon slices. Include pretty paper plates and napkins – which are not only cheerful but also spare the recipient doing dishes.
4. Consult the dietary restrictions and dislikes and follow them. Don’t assume you can convert a venison-hater because you have a special recipe everyone else loves. Such a meal might indeed be memorable to the recipient, but again, not in the way one wants.
5. Of course, always package the food in disposable containers so the recipient doesn’t have to worry about making sure the right dishes are returned to the right owner.
6. If your budget allows, include a gift card for Panera, IHOP, Dunkin Donuts, McDonald’s, or any place that offers a morning menu. People in tough transitions eat breakfast too.
Suggestions For Meals
A favorite food blogger, Lisa at Tiny Kitchen Capers, has some sense-awakening recipes sure to be appreciated and remembered by your friends. They’re what I’m talking about when I talk about giving your best. Here are 5 of her main courses and 3 desserts.