Food is a big part of every culture. I’m not just talking about types of food, but the idea of sharing food with one another. And when a family member or friend is having a difficult time in their life, it’s not uncommon to find a parade of folks bringing food.
I’m the leader of the parade. 😊 I love cooking for others & bringing meals to friends who have just had babies (as is the most common “time of need” in my current stage of life.) When we had Buddy, tons of friends & family brought meals & snacks and we were SO thankful for all the help & the break from cooking! This time around, things are a bit trickier, since our son has multiple, severe food allergies. Friends & family began inquiring early how they would be able to help & I wasn’t really sure. I gave it a lot of thought & even polled some of the food allergy groups I’m a part of for ideas & wanted to share those ideas with all of you in case you have a friend with food allergies who may be in a time of need.
1. (And this is perhaps the most important!) Talk to your friend or family member! Everyone is different. Everyone’s food allergies are different & everyone handles their food allergies differently. Don’t make any assumptions. Ask a thousand questions & then finish with “is there anything else I should know or that would make you more comfortable?”
2. Consider a gift card to their favorite “safe” restaurant…especially if it has delivery or curbside pick up! Or better yet, pick it up & bring it over for them. Take their order or have them call it in (if they want to discuss anything with the manager or chef) & scoop it up. Bonus for you if they just had a baby…you’ll get some quality baby snuggle time while they stuff their faces. 😊
3. Find out where they like to grocery shop & offer to pick up groceries. They may be able to tell you specific items or brands that they like/are safe for their family. Gift cards to grocery stores were also mentioned in several of the food allergy groups.
4. Forget food & look for other ways you could help. Do they have an energetic older child who may need to burn off some steam? Did they just run out of toilet paper or laundry detergent? Maybe there are some library books still hanging out on the counter that need to be returned. Some folks (myself included) are reluctant to accept this kind of help (don’t ask me why) so be specific with what you ask to help with (we might still turn you down). They may be more likely to take you up on an offer for something specific (Hey, I’m gonna be at Target this afternoon, do you need any shampoo/kleenex/fabric softener?) rather than a general offering of help (Need any help with anything?)
5. Or you could consider this alternative that my mom & sisters did for me (that I am still so excited about…thanks ladies!!!) and assist your friend or family member in stocking their freezer ahead of time. This past weekend my mom, two older sisters, & I got together & assembled several meals & sides to pop in my freezer. We discussed allergies, recipes, & ingredients ahead of time, & I was able to check ingredient labels & follow food prep as meals were assembled. I now have two pork tenderloins in a tasty marinade, two meals of pulled pork, chicken tetrazzini, a chicken & broccoli casserole (there’s bacon in it…you all know my love affair with bacon,) PW freezer sandwiches, broccoli, cheese & rice casseroles, & parmesan knots (rolls) all safe for Buddy’s allergies & ready to go once his little brother is here & life is hectic! I was also given several “safe” easy prep sides like packets of flavored mashed potatoes & rices to pop in the microwave & enjoy with these tasty meals. I can not tell you what a relief it is to know I have all those meals waiting for my family…and that they are all worry-free as far as my son’s allergies go! (And don’t worry…I’ll try to share many of the above recipes in the upcoming months once things settle down a bit. 😊) And to top it all off, they took me out to dinner when we were finished with all the meal prep. Such a great day!
Add these meals to the list of meals I’ve managed to stash in my freezer over the past couple weeks and I’d say we’re pretty set until Thanksgiving…or at least Halloween…lol:
Cheesy chicken enchiladas
Best baked spaghetti
Chicken Alfredo roll ups
Drip beef (this one is coming to the blog this fall…super easy crock pot meal)
Chocolate chip cookies
Vanilla malted chocolate chip bars
I would love to hear your thoughts on these ideas & any others you may have!