Recently, my good friend was sick and I thought to myself, “I should make her a meal.” But, let’s be honest, I have a hard enough time making meals for my own family every night. That doesn’t change the fact that I truly did want to do something to help my friend.
But where do I start? I’m a Southerner and we are known for our casseroles. We show up in droves for births, surgeries, or funerals with all the food. I know this isn’t just a southern thing, my Midwest Neighbor tells me all about the hot dishes she makes for others. I’m sure people everywhere else do this too, so why did I feel so stressed and incapable of helping my friend?
In a moment of uncertainty, I did the best I could and sent her a gift card for DoorDash. Consider this your “dasherole” I told her. We both laughed, and, half seriously thought that might actually be a good idea. Check out the video we did inspired by real events:
In the end, I was happy to be able to offer some small way of helping my friend while she was down and out. I know she appreciated it, even if it wasn’t a homemade casserole straight from my oven.
So, You Signed Up For A Meal Train…
The more I thought about it, I decided to write down a few tips and tricks for myself for the next time I’m in this situation. When I have a plan in place, I feel much better about my ability to help. I’m sharing my notes here in case you find yourself in a similar situation of wanting to help but feeling overwhelmed at just what to do.
- Don’t feel bad about takeout. It is 100% okay to get take out. Hey, we are all doing the best we can here and I guarantee they will appreciate it. You can even do a combo approach where you make a couple of side dishes and then pick up a rotisserie chicken or a bucket of fried chicken on your way.
- Do a meal kit. A lot of grocery stores offer meal kits you can pick up. Some are already cooked and ready to be delivered while others come prepped and ready to put together quickly. Check your local grocery store for their prepared meals selection.
- Make your favorite. Don’t overthink it – just make your favorite meal. This one is hard for me. I second guess myself – what if they don’t like it? What if it’s not good? Just go with one of your favorite meals and you will have a winner (or see one of my recipe ideas below for inspiration).
- Double up and make your life easy. Make two at the same time – one for your dinner and one for theirs. Making dinner already feels like a chore on many busy nights, but it’s really not that hard or time consuming just to double up whatever recipe you are already making.
- Think outside the casserole dish. So you signed up for one of those meal sign-ups and someone already took the lasagna spot? No worries, just think outside the casserole dish: make a pot of soup with salad and bread, make brinner (breakfast for dinner), assemble a taco bar (great for families with children where they can build their own plate), or bake a sheet pan dinner.
- Go to Google for help. What if the recipient has dietary restrictions or allergies that you’re unfamiliar with? Google for ideas! One time I signed up to make dinner for a family who is gluten free. I found a recipe for a turkey chili online, and now it’s one of my favorite recipes to make in the winter.
- Ditch the dishes. Take your meal in a disposable dish so they don’t have to worry about washing dishes or remembering to return yours. Keep one or two of these on hand so you’re always prepared.
- Pick a classic. You can never go wrong with a classic dinner option such as a pasta dish, any kind of chicken casserole, enchiladas, or a chicken pot pie.
Comfort Food Is Best
Going back to my Midwest neighbor, she has a family potato casserole she loves to pair with a protein and vegetable. (Apparently her family makes these every holiday too. Yum.) So consider this if you’re feeling stuck!
Cheesy Potato Casserole
1 stick of butter
1/3 cup of green onion – chopped
1 can of cream of chicken soup
1 pint (16 oz.) of sour cream
1 bag of frozen hash browns (diced)
2 cups grated cheddar cheese (use a bag in a pinch)
Salt & pepper
Preheat the oven for 350 degrees. Melt butter in a skillet and add chopped onions to soften. Remove from heat. Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl, including the butter and onions. Transfer to a 13×9 glass casserole dish and cook for 45 minutes to an hour uncovered until bubbly.
Do you have a go-to casserole dish or meal that you make for others? Tell me in the comments.
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