Whoever invented meal trains needs to be sainted - the patron saint of meal trains.
What’s a meal train?
A meal train is a wonderful process where a group of lovely people commit to supplying a family with meals for a period of time because of some major event that has occurred - like a birth, death, injury, serious illness, surgery, etc.
How does a meal train work?
There are many ways to organize and execute a meal train. I’ll be sharing on the two successful meal trains that I’ve observed (last year’s train for baby #2 and this year’s train for baby #3).
An organizer will send out an invitation to neighbours to find out who would be interested in participating in the meal train.
For those interested, the organizer will set up a calendar (website or a shared doc) and all the lovely participants will select a day that they’ll supply a meal on (usually dinner).
The organizer will share any dietary restrictions or favourite cuisines with the group of meal gifters.
The intent is that those supplying the meals will just cook extra of their regularly planned dinner and deliver it to the receiving family.
Whether the meal plan remains a secret or not from the receiving family is up to the group - so it can either be a surprise or not. However, the receiving family usually knows who is assigned which day (just in case they need to figure out timing).
Small note: Be mindful of dinner times if the receiving family has young children (or just eat dinner at certain times). You don’t want to be carrying dinner over at 7:30 pm when the family usually eats at 6:00pm.
Benefits to the Receiving Family
One-or-two less meals to cook!
You get wonderful meals every day, and often leftovers that help to reduce your overall cooking load, i.e., less work = less stress.
Free Tupperware containers!
Usually meals arrive in reusables or disposables. Those tend to come in handy on rainy days.
New meal ideas!
You get to try other families' tried and true recipes. One couple made this exquisite steak sauce that I nagged my sister to get from them.
Meals from your favourite restaurants!
If participants don’t want to cook, the next best thing is to get take-out. Do you have cravings for sushi? What about pizza? You may just get one of your favourite cuisines as a treat.
A note on newborns
For births, those first 2 weeks are especially difficult times as the mother and newborn adjust to each other outside of the womb. Even with help, it’s an adjustment for the entire household - so sparing them having to cook a meal is a blessing that they won’t soon forget.
Now that we’re at the end of our two-week meal train following the advent of my niece, I had to share how blessed we were by the daily meals. A meal train is a wonderful thing.
Do you have a neighbour (or loved one) who’s about to have a baby? Maybe you can consider organising a meal train to help them with the adjustment.
So what good thing happened to you this week?