Do you ever feel like there isn’t enough time in the day to help out a friend or family member who might be struggling? The answer is a meal train—a simple, yet incredibly effective way to lend an extra hand in times of need.
Meal trains help provide meals and groceries during difficult times, whether that’s due to an illness, loss of employment, or even just having too much on their plate. It’s designed so friends and family can work together to ensure that your loved one has healthy meals delivered regularly until their situation improves.
In this article, we’ll explain exactly what a meal train is and how it works, plus take a look at some great meal train meal ideas.
What Is A Meal Train And How Does It Work?
A Meal Train is a service that helps coordinate meals for those in need. It’s a great way to organize friends and family members who want to provide food or meals for someone recovering from surgery, dealing with a new baby, or facing any kind of difficult situation.
Having a complete meal or multiple meals delivered during major life events can be so helpful. Even one meal or helping out with grocery shopping can make a big difference to those in need.
Planning To Deliver Meals
With a Meal Train, organizers can create a meal plan, assign duties to participants, and track the progress of each request. It’s an easy way to ensure that all needs are met while reducing stress on those in need.
Who Needs A Meal Train?
Meal trains are incredibly helpful for a variety of situations, and can be used in any situation where someone may need assistance. Here are just a few examples:
– A family member recovering from surgery or illness.
– A new parent who needs help with meal prep.
– Someone who is dealing with the loss of a job or a financial difficulty.
– A family dealing the death of a loved one.
– Anyone who may be facing difficult times and needs extra support from friends and family.
Setting Up A Meal Train
Setting up a meal train can be a breeze when you use an online platform. All you need to do is create a profile or group, enter the details of your request, and invite friends and family members who want to help out. From there, you can assign individual tasks and keep track of the meals that are prepared and delivered.
Setting Up A Meal Train On Facebook
To set up a meal train plan on facebook, you simply need to create a group on messenger. From there, you can invite your friends and family to join the group.
Once everyone is in the group, you can assign the dates coordinate meal drop-offs and track progress through the messenger chat.
How Much Does A Meal Train Cost?
Setting up a meal train is usually free, and the cost of groceries or meals are typically covered by the volunteers. However, certain online platforms may charge small fees for their online planning service.
Planning on Facebook can be free and if you cook budget meals that are healthy, it wont cost too much.
Meal Train Calendar
You can easily create a spreadsheet or meal train calendar to help track of who’s bringing what and when.
The meal train calendar can be made on a program such as Microsoft excel, or google sheets. This can then be shared with the group so everyone knows who is bringing what and when it’s due.
This also helps people plan their own schedules around these times, as well as coordinate any last-minute changes or additions if needed.
Meal Train Donations
Sometimes others may not be able to physically help with the preparation or delivery of food, but still want to contribute in some way.
In this case you can ask friends and family to make donations, for example, those who are far away can still make a contribution or money donation, or those unable to physically prepare food may be able to donate groceries that are needed for cooking the meal train meals.
How Long Should A Meal Train Last?
The length of a meal train can depend on the individual needs. Usually, it is recommended that the meal train lasts anywhere from three weeks to a month.
This gives enough time for those in need to adjust and get back on their feet if they are recovering from an illness or difficult situation. If more help is needed after this period, you can always extend the meal train for as long as necessary.
Good Meals For Meal Train Rosters
So what is a good meal for a meal train roster? A meal train can provide great options for those in need of a meal. It is important to think about the dietary needs of the recipient, as well as keeping healthy meals in mind.
Some great ideas for meal train dishes include:
– Soups and stews
– Baked pasta dishes
– Slow cooker recipes
– Meat with grilled or roasted vegetables
Alternatively, a meal train could also include pre-made meals that can be heated and served quickly or placed the freezer of those in need.
No matter what type of meal is chosen, it’s important to make sure that the meals are healthy and able to provide the recipient with all their nutritional needs.
Check For Food Allergies
When organising a food train or food roster, it’s good to check for food allergies check for any dietary restrictions such as whether the meal train recipient is diabetic or requires gluten free recipes etc. This will help make meal planning easier and ensure the home cooked meals are suitable for everyone in the household.
It’s also good to make kid friendly meals too. Fresh meals that are suitable for both adults and children are an important part of organizing a meal train and meal deliveries.
Best Meal Train Ideas
When it comes to meal train ideas, it’s best to keep it simple. Having a few basic, easy ingredients that can be used in a variety of ways, makes it easier to prepare meals quickly and efficiently. Here are some easy meal train meals and recipes that you could cook as part of your meal train:
- Beef Stew
- Vegetarian Chili
- Tuna Pasta Bake
- Chicken Rice Casserole
- Stuffed Peppers
- Chicken or Beef Enchiladas
- Cheesy Broccoli Bake
- Mac and Cheese
- Meatloaf and Mash
No matter what type of meal you, the goal is to make tasty, comfortable food that will enjoyed by all. With little bit of planning and coordination, your meal train will be a success!
These dishes can be made in large batches and frozen, so that the meal train recipient will have plenty of meals for the week. With these easy meal train ideas, you can ensure that everyone is fed with ease!
Best Packaging Materials For Meal Trains
Whether batch cooking the same meal, or preparing three meals or more during a major life event, home cooked meals will need to be packaged well, especially if they are to be stored in a fridge or freezer for later consumption.
Ideally, you should use safe and suitable materials for storing meals. This includes air-tight glass containers with lids, foil wraps or heavy-duty freezer bags. It is also important to label each container with details such as the meal content, date of preparation and expiry date.
Other packaging materials could include tin foil, tin foil trays, and cling wrap. By properly packaging meals, you are helping to ensure the quality of food that is being served. Not only will this help keep meals fresh for longer, it will also help to keep food safe, hygienic and free from contamination.
Find out what the Best meal train meals are here!
Tips For Planning A Meal Train
A few tips when planning your meal train for someone going through a challenging time is to ask them a few questions when planning. Ask what kind of recipes and meals they like? Find out what their favorite restaurants are, find out what kind of food they usually eat and as mentioned previously, ask if they have any food allergies or dietary restrictions.
It’s also important to plan ahead and coordinate meals with other meal train participants, so that the recipient does not receive too much of the same type of dish in one week.
Start A Meal Train Today
These are just some of tips that can help you when organizing a meal train. With a bit of planning and coordination, you’ll be able to quickly create and manage a meal train that works for everyone involved. Good luck!
Happy Meal Train to You!