If it’s one thing I do, it’s bring people meals. I’m one of the first to offer to bring friends a meal after a baby, or surgery, or after a social media post that they’re sick or had a miscarriage or husband lost a job or whatever it is, because food is my love language! It’s one of the easiest ways I know and love to serve because it comes so naturally to me!
One thing that is really so easy to bring to others is smokey spiced pulled pork tacos. I do the pork in my Power Pressure Cooker XL–which we just happen to be giving away! You can sear your meat before you start pressure cooking, so I season heavily with kosher salt, black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, chipotle chili powder, oregano, smoked paprika, and some red pepper flakes. Heat up the oil in the pressure cooker, sear it on both sides, add 2 c water, then pressure cook it. This was a really large bone-in pork butt roast so it took me 1 hour 20 minutes to get it tender and falling apart.
Make some mango salsa, throw in some lettuce, cojita cheese, lime wedges, an avocado (uncut, let them cut it), and tortillas. I’ll also do a side, either this elote (Mexican corn made easy) or coconut rice with black beans. If there are kids, I’ll throw in a bag of shredded cheese so they can make quesadillas if they want. So easy!
Now for some tips:
- Meal coordinating sites. These are the best! No shocker here, but I am obsessed with food. Biggest beef is going to any sort of potluck event (party–bring dessert or appetizers please!) and having no idea what everyone else is bringing. What if we all bring mashed potatoes?! Does nobody care?! Bringing a friend a meal? What if they got lasagna the previous three nights…ugh. These sites allow invitations to serve be sent, people sign up for a day, and note what they’re bringing. Invitations can even be sent to the person’s out-of-town friends and family. I would have loved to have sent my best friend a pizza or chinese takeout during her times of need. Take Them a Meal, Meal Train, and Food Tidings are a few different sites. While we’re talking about scheduling, ask them what they need. Maybe they only want meals every other day so they can have leftovers and stretch out the help a bit. Perhaps they have family in town and don’t need help until family has left. Ask them what time they usually eat, especially if kids are involved. I also try to give 5 minutes notice so they know when to tell the kids to stop asking when dinner is going to be ready and so they can make themselves presentable if they want to.
- How do you decide what to bring? In case one of these sites are not being used (and even if they are), I love to give the recipient several different options. The idea of picking a meal to serve an entire family when I have no idea their food preferences freaks me out! I know my husband and kids love Orange Chicken, but what if their kids hate rice? Everyone’s effort is wasted and they still have kids to feed. I’ll usually try to think of an option from several different cuisines: Enchiladas, (enchiladas, enchiladas, enchiladas with this chicken) Mongolian Beef, Chicken Parmesan, soup and salad, or Greek Pitas with the best homemade hummus you’ve ever had (so I’ve been told)? Another sneaky tip I use? If I don’t want to bug them with options, I totally stalk their Pinterest! Check and see what recipes they’ve pinned, and if they have a board where they pin stuff they’ve actually made and loved? Score!
- Think outside the box and bring extras. Dinner is nice, leftovers are nice. Breakfast? Awesome. Quick grab and go snacks when you only have one hand or can’t get up or are half-awake or can’t think clearly? Super awesome. Paper plates, plastic utensils and cups, napkins? Even awesomer. Double the meal and half of it prepped to freeze for another night? YAS. Sometimes I even throw in a coloring sticker book for the kids from the dollar section at Target. Win win.
- The drop-off. If you have kids and can help it, please leave them at home! I’m sure your friend loves your kids and your dog and your pet gerbil, but they really don’t want to deal with the chaos and noise that comes with those grubby little fellas when they’re barely keeping it together themselves. Obviously sometimes you can’t help it, so leave them in the car with the air running. It’ll give you an excuse to stay at the door and not stay long, which you shouldn’t be doing anyway. If your friend really wants to show off their new baby or talk about their surgery or whatever they’re going through, let them initiate, but otherwise, plan on making the drop-off quick, warmed up with a hug, and a promise to check on them later. Leave a note with your meal that will convey any warmer wishes you have for them so they know you care. I remember with my first baby I’d try to schedule meals around the time my newborn and I would be awake, but I finally gave up and got too stressed and started telling people that my husband would answer the door if we were asleep. Or sick. Or not clothed. Or didn’t feel like chatting. Such a relief! PLEASE let your recipient know you don’t expect them to entertain you. Recipients can even leave a cooler on the porch if they’d rather not open the door. Food really is the way to so many people’s hearts! Whether you make a homemade meal or heat up some soup and buy a loaf of bread, people love being taken care of. Get out and serve today!