Monday, October 20, 2014

Nourish ~ On the Feeding of Others

Welcome to Nourish: 31 Days of Family, Food, and Faith. This is Day 20. To see the rest of the series click here!

I’ve been in a season of life for the last few years in which my biggest felt role, the one that I feel like I devote the majority of my time to, is feeding my family. Happily, I enjoy this role most of the time except for when I’m not feeling well. My older kids have learned to step in and take over when this happens and I’m terribly indebted to them in that situation. As I sit on the couch and listen to the goings on in the kitchen where food is being prepared without me, it often occurs to me…

…most people do not have back up cooks at the ready when they are ill! 

Even in the past year when I’ve not been feeling well I’ve been blessed by friends who’ve brought food to my family. My illnesses were not serious at all and yet the food came and it was a blessing. It relieved the problem of actually putting food in mouths but even more, it relieved my mental challenge of “what am I gonna feed them tonight?” 

Having been both on the providing end and on the receiving end of “The Feeding of Others” equation, I can speak easily of the blessings of both. I come from a long line of “food takers,” otherwise known as people who, when they hear of a bad situation or an event to be celebrated  in the life of another, immediately think that no matter what, food will make it better and so set into motion plans to “take food.” 

Not everyone comes from such a heritage. Others are “being there” kind of folks and they have my utmost respect. I don’t know how to “be there” quietly and thoughtfully. I know of such people and they have, by their “being there” ministered to me in deep and meaningful ways and I’ve watched in awe as I’ve seen them minister to others around me. 

I’d rather make you cookies than hold your hand because while I’m holding your hand, my mouth will be moving and words will be coming out and very likely they will not be saying anything remotely helpful. Please…do you like pie, can I make you a pie? I’ll drop it off to you and because it’s food, we’ll both feel better, right?

Everyone can nourish others according to their own personality, absolutely.  I will argue, however, that we are all also able to nourish another person with a meal and maybe not even an entire meal but something warm and …yes, nourishing.

I realize that sometimes it's the little things that might keep us from taking a meal to someone like: "How does one go about it in the first place?" or "I have no earthly idea what kind of food to take to a family." My biggest challenge is finding their home to deliver the food but eventually I find the right place and usually I've learned a new area of our town as well...I still get lost frequently in my town after all these eleven years!

When I find out about a family or an individual who needs a meal that I can provide, I get the phone number and give a quick call or text to either the person who is in need or their spouse or family member. I call them and simply say, "Hi Sally, I heard you've broken your arm, how are you doing?" Sally will tell me how she is doing and then I will say, "I have dinner for you tonight, I'll bring it at {what ever time works for you... see note below for a suggestion}.”

At this point in the conversation the person on the other end of the line will say "THANK YOU," and you will say "you are welcome, see you later today." And that will be it. Sometimes, however, the person on the other end of the line will say, "Oh, I'm not really in that much need, you don't need to worry about that.” 


Tell them you already have dinner in the works and that you'll be there later to deliver. (You DO already have it in the works simply by having made the phone call!) **Dinner time can be a challenging time to deliver a meal while at the same time attempt to feed one's own family. One solution we've found is to try to have food ready early and deliver it "pre-baked" (if that is an option) and let the family receiving the meal put it in the oven at the optimal time for them.

Now that you've promised dinner...WHAT TO FIX?

I am NOT the authority on this matter but am happy to tell you what I usually do. It's very plain and simple:

1. A main dish - casseroles work well here or a simple pasta dish. Often I make a chicken casserole, or a baked spaghetti, or a pot of soup. DO NOT, however, think that everything must be homemade! I have also delivered a grocery store rotisserie chicken or two AND I've been the receiver of those wonderful grocery store rotisserie chickens and oh how we've loved them!!

2. I like to include a vegetable of some sort with a meal but I don't always, sometimes I don't have any on hand and sometimes it doesn't go with the meal (like with soup). I usually pull a frozen microwave steam bag of veggies (or two if serving more than 4) from the freezer, and cook those and put in a take out dish. In the summer a simple bag of salad is a great way to go. If I don't have veggies to include, sometimes I'll take potatoes or pasta salad or rice if I have that.

3. Sometimes I'll send bread. Most times I buy a loaf of french bread from the store and deliver it right in the bag it came in. Sometimes, a simple loaf of banana bread or corn bread is perfect to round off a meal.

4. Dessert...really, we should have started with dessert. From a batch of cookies from the bakery at the store to a homemade pie. ANYTHING is good when you don't feel well or when you are working hard to recover.

Don't feel like you must do it all. Any portion of the above is better than nothing. There have been many occasions in my little world where I'd have appreciated anyone who came to my house and put together peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

Sample meals:

Baked pasta, salad, loaf of bread, pudding
Pot of soup, cornbread or corn muffins, chocolate chip cookies
Total Store Meal: rotisserie chicken, loaf of bread, potato salad (or macaroni salad) cheerful cupcakes from the bakery, or fruit salad.

More meal ideas {especially soups} can be found by clicking on the Recipe Box tab at the top of this post or by clicking here. I also like to page through my cookbooks with an eye for "take out food" to get fresh ideas.

One final note: When I deliver a meal, if there are extra hands available, I bring them to help carry the food to the door, however, I don't let them come into the home where we are delivering the food. ALSO, I try to drop off the food and get out of the way. Those who are ailing or even healing often aren't up for making conversation or even for coming to the door. I try not to get chatty...;-) .

Ok, TWO final notes: Sometimes the best time to take food to someone isn’t when they are sick or recovering but when you just want them to know you were thinking about them. I receive thoughtful deliveries of goodness frequently from friends and family and even from my Man which knock the flip-flops right off of my feet. It doesn’t have to be a lot to be a source of nourishment in the life of another. 

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