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Lift a Burden by Gifting a Meal

Laura Rennie

Lift a Burden by Gifting a Meal

My parent’s kitchen is the nucleus of the house and one of the happiest rooms I know. My mom and sister work side by side over the stove while the rest of us float in and out, gratefully tasting samples and getting roped into chopping vegetables or grating cheese. If we’re not cooking or eating, we’re playing games or telling stories at the kitchen table.

The only times I remember the kitchen not being full of life was when my grandparents died. It was one heartbreak after the next — both of my dad’s parents in one year and my mom’s mom the following year. The days passing their funerals were spent in a zombie-like trance as we draped across the couch and stared numbly at the TV. I don’t think we would have thought to go to the kitchen for something to eat if it weren’t for the generosity of others.

Numerous people rallied together and brought my family meals along with hugs and kind words. Our neighbors thoughtfully delivered sandwiches from Panera for us between the two viewings we held after my grandpa passed. Having food brought to us made it possible for us to stomach the idea of eating. Going out to a restaurant or preparing a meal ourselves would have involved making decisions that our whirling minds wouldn’t have been capable of making.

I remember feeling every thought other than my grief was insignificant and unnecessary. What I wanted most was to not think at all. But the reality was my feet hurt from spending hours standing during the viewings. My head hurt from coming up with things to say to people I hadn’t seen in years. My heart hurt because someone dear to me was gone. My mouth was too dry to want food, but my body needed sustenance.

And there lies the beauty of friendship — when you’re incapable of doing something yourself, a compassionate and helping hand is there to do it for you.

Since the deaths of my grandparents, I’ve had plenty of opportunities to bring food to others. Whether it’s a death, a birth, the loss of a job, a move or a surgery, any milestone is worth acknowledging with a hot meal and a smile.

Some tips I’ve learned from being on the meal ministry at church:

  • Double the meal and serve half to your own family
  • Send a card with the meal and include any baking times and temperatures
  • Stick to foods that most people enjoy (not overly spicy or unusual)
  • Send the food in disposable containers so they don’t have to deal with washing dishes and returning them
  • If the thought of making food for others stresses you out, pick something up from their favorite restaurant or bring a rotisserie chicken and a bagged salad
  • If the person you want to bless lives far away, call a pizza place in their town and have a pie delivered

My go-to meal to make for friends consists of three of my favorite dishes: cornflake chicken, whipped cream potatoes and my sister’s famous cobbler. Make sure to include the recipes because people will be dying to know how you made them! I also recommend sending along a green vegetable or salad.

Cornflake chicken:

  • 1 cup crushed cornflakes
  • 1 pkg dry ranch dressing
  • 1/3 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 stick melted butter
  • 4 boneless chicken breasts

Place cornflakes, ranch and cheese in a shallow bowl and melted butter in another. Coat chicken in butter first, then in cornflake mixture. Bake at 325 for 1 hour. Serves 4.

Whipped cream potatoes:

  • 4 boiled and grated potatoes or 2 bags of "Simply Potatoes" from the refrigerator section
  • 3/4 stick of butter
  • 1/2 pint of half and half or whipping cream
  • salt and pepper

Place 2 shredded potatoes or 1 bag of pre-shredded into a large casserole dish. Melt butter and pour over. Salt and pepper generously. Layer remaining potatoes, salt and pepper again and pour half and half or whipping cream over casserole. Bake at 325 for 1 hour. Serves 4-6.

Easy Cobbler (recipe by Katie Stutler)

  • 4 Tbsp Butter
  • 1 c. flour
  • 3/4 c. sugar
  • 2 t. baking powder
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1 c. milk
  • 3 or 4 cups fresh or frozen fruit (mixed berries or peaches are great)

Preheat oven to 350.  Melt butter in a 9x9 baking dish or a 2-quart casserole dish in the oven while it's preheating.  Watch that it doesn't burn.  Mix together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and milk.  Pour over melted butter.  Add fruit on top.  Do not mix.  Bake 40 minutes. Serve warm. Serves 6. (Bonus ­— the leftovers make a yummy breakfast!)


What are your favorite go-to meals to take to friends and family? Leave a comment and let us know!

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Laura Rennie lives in Maryland with her hilarious husband and constantly shedding dog. She loves reading, writing and playing word games. Her greatest desire is to share Jesus through her words and actions as she learns how to be a better wife, daughter, sister and friend.

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