When someone in my moms’ club has a baby, people volunteer to take meals to her. I’m always incredibly jealous that I wasn’t part of the group when I had E. I can’t even remember what we ate that first month (well, after my mom left. When she was still here for the week after E. was born, we ate good!). But I’m pretty sure DadJovi and I ate a lot of cereal in those early days. Money was tight since I’d just lost most of my salary by going on maternity leave and I was incredibly sore from my 15+ hours of labor followed by an unplanned C-section. Good times. Needless to say, I wasn’t going anywhere near the kitchen.
So when the sign-up sheet goes around, I’m always happy to volunteer when I can. We actually use a really cool service called FoodTidings.com. The page includes information such as the how many you’re cooking for, any allergies or likes/dislikes, what time they’d like it dropped off, and, most importantly, you get to see what everyone else is bringing. It saves the new family from getting lasagne every night for two weeks!
Despite my enthusiasm, I always find myself stuck trying to come up with ideas. The sign-up sheet tends to be very casserole heavy, which makes sense. They’re easy to prepare in advance, reheat and even freeze leftovers. But I always think I’d get tired of that many casseroles.
In the past I’ve made homemade chicken enchiladas (including the sauce). Never again. That process took entirely too long and I think I accidentally made them too spicy. One time, I was delivering food to a friend who had just had surgery and I came up with the idea to text her first to see if there was anything she was craving/wanted to avoid. And she immediately wrote me back: “Please, please, please, bring us a salad. We’re dying for fresh vegetables and my kids want fruit. I don’t need anything else — just a salad.”
That one was fun. I immediately turned to my favorite salad maker, Mama Pea, and made her Strawberry Roasted Chickpea Salad with Cinnamon Dijon Vinaigrette.
My friend still tells everyone about that salad. And, oh man, just looking at the recipea (yes, intended) again, makes me crave it! I think it’s going to be on my weekend menu!
But sometimes it feels like cheating to just bring a salad, even if it’s a great salad. Plus, unless you know they’re going to eat it right away, its shelf life might not be as good as a cooked meal.
Once again, this week I signed up to bring a meal for a friend who just had her second child (and a C-section, so I know she won’t be dying to get into the kitchen any time soon).
And, of course, I drew a blank when it came time to plan my menu. So, obviously, I turned to my Tweeps for ideas. And, as usual, they delivered some great ones!
What great ideas! I started planning one of these ideas, but I thought I’d send a quick text to my friend and see what she was feeling like. Plus, I also offered her a little piece of heaven — dinner from 4 Rivers Smokehouse, a restaurant with a cult-like following (and I’m a card-carrying member!) here in Central Florida. She immediately texted back that they would LOVE 4 Rivers.
Plus, I picked them up a four-pack of cupcakes from the Yum-Yum Cupcake truck last night. Keeping them uneaten in my fridge since then is one of my proudest accomplishments to date.
I got off easy this time, but I also knew I’d find myself in this position again. So I thought I’d do Future Jackie a solid by compiling a list of ideas for the next time I volunteer to make a meal. Dear Me, you’re welcome. Love, Me
And that’s where you come in. Do you have any ideas for meals for friends? What would you want either in the first days home with your little one or after a surgery? Bonus points for items that keep well. (Side note: every time I’m trying to think of something to make, I’m reminded of the scene in “Steel Magnolias” when Annelle insists that she needs to make something from the “freezes beautifully” section of her cookbook. Clearly, I think about this movie entirely too much).
Ladies and gentlemen, share your ideas!