When a loved one is going through a difficult time, it can be hard to know how to support them. One practical and meaningful way to help is by setting up a meal train. But do you know how to set up a meal train? A meal train is a schedule of meals that friends and family can sign up to provide for the person or family in need. It’s a simple but powerful way to show someone that you care, especially when they are going through major life events. In this article, we’ll go over everything you need to know to set up a meal train for a family in need.
What Is A Meal Train?
As stated above, a meal train is a schedule of meals that friends and family can sign up to provide for the person or family in need. It could include anything from home-cooked meals, restaurant delivery, grocery store gift cards, and even other types of help like yard work or house cleaning services.
The idea behind a meal train is to provide practical support to someone who might be too busy or overwhelmed to shop for groceries or cook meals for themselves.
Comfort Food For The Needy
Providing comfort food that is healthy and tasty for someone with new parents with a new baby, a whole family with young kids or someone recovering from illness is a great way to show you care.
Dishes like soups, casseroles or slow cooker meals are perfect for someone who needs an easy and nutritious meal that doesn’t require much.
Think about their dietary restrictions, food allergies, food preferences and so forth.
Find out if your meal train recipients like spicy foods, ask what their favorite sandwich fixings are or ask them to share meal ideas so you don’t end up in a casserole rut or serving food they do not like.
Check out this post: 21 Best Meal Train Meal Ideas!
Steps For Setting Up A Meal Train Or Meal Roster
Here are 6 simple steps for organising your meal train or meal roster:
- Find Out The Family Needs
- Organise A Spreadsheet/Online Group
- Spread The Word
- Be Specific About Meals
- Follow Up With The Family
Determine The Family Needs
Determine the family’s needs: Before setting up a meal train, it’s important to talk to the family and find out what their specific needs are. Are there any dietary restrictions or allergies? Are there certain days or times of the day that would be more helpful for meals? Would they prefer homemade meals or takeout?
How To Set Up A Meal Train: The Easy Way
Find out what your families favorite restaurant is, learn about their favorite foods, look for kid friendly meal options, share meals the friend or family member will enjoy during their challenging time.
Taking these factors into consideration will make the meal train more effective and appreciated.
Check if the family need one meal per day of if they would like meal days where batch meals are dropped off? Both are a great idea and the family receiving help for the week or the entire month will truely appreciate the support.
Determine The Dates For Meal Delivery
Once you have a better idea of the family’s needs, it’s time to determine which dates and times would be best for meal delivery. Depending on your location, there may also be local services that can help with meal delivery. It may be a church group supporting friends or family organizing a meal train for a family member. Once the dates are sorted, you can move to the next step.
Use An Online Platform or Google Sheets
Use an online platform: There are many online platforms you can use to set up a meal train. Some popular options include Meal Train, Take Them A Meal, and CareCalendar. These platforms allow you to create a schedule and share it with friends and family via email, social media, or a specific link.
You could also use a Facebook messenger group to organise and talk about your meal train ideas. You can also include important details such as the family’s address and any specific instructions for drop-off.
Use a spreadsheet or google sheets to make a free calendar that multiple people can access.
Spread The Word For Support
Spread the word: Once you’ve set up the meal train, it’s time to let people know about it. Start by reaching out to close friends and family members who you think would be willing to participate.
You can also create a Facebook event or send an email blast to a larger group. Don’t be afraid to share the meal train on your social media channels or with your church or community group.
Be Specific About The Meals
Be specific: To avoid confusion or overlap, be specific about what kind of meals are needed. You could create a sign-up sheet with specific meal ideas (e.g. chicken casserole, vegetarian lasagna), or ask people to indicate what they plan to bring in advance. It’s also worth reminding people to label their dishes with any ingredients or heating instructions.
One way to make meals easy for the meal train recipient might be to deliver meals in disposable containers. This might help cut down on the need for dishes. Providing meals that are hot and fresh is great; however, if they can’t be delivered at meal times, you can provide meals that can be heated up later or even frozen.
Follow Up With The Family
Follow up: After the meal train has been going for a few weeks, it’s a good idea to follow up with the family and see how they’re doing. Are there any days or times when they’re struggling to get meals? Do they have enough food for leftovers? Are there any dietary restrictions or preferences that should be updated? It’s important to keep communication lines open and make sure the meal train is still meeting the family’s needs.
Best Fresh Meals For A Food Train?
So what are some good meals to consider while doing your meal planning? Here are some ideas for fresh, healthy meals that travel well:
- Curries and Stews
- Quiche or Frittata
- Roast Chicken with Vegetables
- A Casserole Dish
- Salads and Cold Meals
- Soups and Sandwiches
- Breakfast foods
Support Families With Healthy Meal Trains
Setting up a meal train for a family in need is a thoughtful and practical way to show support during a difficult time. By following these steps, you can create a seamless and organized system that helps alleviate some of the stress that comes with illness, loss, or any other challenging situation.
How To Pack Food For A Meal Train
If you’re delivering meals as part of a meal train, it’s important to make sure they stay fresh and safe until they reach the recipient. Here are some tips for packing food for a meal train:
Choose reusable or disposable food containers. Keep in mind that reheating leftovers may require different types of containers than those used for cold foods.
Pack any condiments or other extras in separate containers and label them clearly.
Include reheating instructions if necessary, as well as allergen information.
Keep Meals Warm/ Cold
Put the food container in an insulated bag or cooler with a frozen ice pack to maintain freshness during transport.
Send A Card
Consider packing a card or offering a kind message with the fresh meals you deliver.
No matter how you decide to package food for your meal train, the most important thing is to ensure that it arrives fresh and safe. By following these tips, you can rest assured that your recipient will appreciate your gesture of kindness.
What Else Can I Do To Support Families?
In addition to setting up a meal train, there are other ways you can help families in need. Consider offering rides to doctor’s appointments or errands, providing child care for siblings, or even lending a hand with housework. You could go grocery shopping or pick up medications from the pharmacy.
No matter what form of support you choose to offer, your kind gesture will always be appreciated.
If you’re the person organizing a meal train, remember to be specific, communicate clearly, and follow up regularly to ensure that the meal train is effective and appreciated. Your efforts will make a big difference in the lives of those you’re supporting.