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9 Tips for the Perfect Meal Train

meal train

I mentioned meal trains earlier this week in my post about being a village when a friend needs a hand. Today I’ll let you know exactly how to get one done! Meal trains are such a great way to help a family. Whether the family just had a baby, recently experienced a death in the family, job hardship, illness/sickness, or any interruption to their normal schedule, it is a wonderful way to show support. Meal time can stress a family under normal circumstances. So it goes without saying that meals are something that can tremendously help an already stressed out family.

I have set up many meal trains, and also participated in many and have learned so much from each one. Here are a few tips for setting up a meal train and for being involved in one.

9 Tips for the Perfect Meal Train

1. Simply alert the family that you have a meal train set up and ask what time is good for drop off.
2. Be specific with your meal train. The site www.mealtrain.com makes it easy! Give thorough instructions and be sure to ask the family and label any dietary restrictions or allergies!
3. Make enough for seconds. It’s always nice for the family to have some for lunch the next day.
4. Provide a large cooler and place it on the family’s doorstep so there’s no need for the family to be interrupted and feel the need to entertain each day. Simply leave your meal with a little love note in the cooler. Be sure to provide this detail on your meal train.
5. Provide paper plates, napkins and silverware so they have fewer dishes and easy clean-up. They’ll thank you even more!
6. Don’t forget the vegetables. Oftentimes families receive a lot of sweets during these hard times. Make sure they have good substance with their meal to nourish their bodies!
7. Don’t expect a thank you: I’ve experienced a participant who was upset and feeling under appreciated for not receiving any type of thank you. We don’t do good things for others for acknowledgement; we do it because it’s the right thing to do. We use these as lessons to show our children how to treat others. Should you ever need or receive a meal train, that is your thank you.
8. Send it out to all that you know, including the family. Sometimes the family is too busy to provide you the emails you need. Send it to anyone within their village that you know of, requesting they forward it. Also sending it to the family who it’s for allows them to forward it on should any of their friends/family ask for it.
9. Enjoy this: it feels good to help someone else. Let your kids be a part of it. Talk about it. Let them help cook, draw a picture, write a letter. If there are kids, bring a little surprise for the kids too!

I truly enjoy being a part of meal trains. It is so rewarding and such a beautiful way to help out friends and family within our village.

What other suggestions do you have for being a part or creating a meal train? —Jennifer

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  1. Kristen says:

    I’m a HUGE advocate of Meal Trains and have set up a few of them. Here’s what I might add:

    For the most recent one, I also created a Facebook event — I didn’t have emails for everyone and didn’t want to put the family out by asking them to give me a list, but creating an event made it easy for them to just add people to it at their convenience or tell me who else to make a host so that they could handle additions. I just included basic info and a link to their Meal Train in the private* Facebook group and that made it really easy to spread the word.

    *Also, be sure to consider the privacy thing, because doing a Meal Train does provide anyone with access to it the family’s home address, so you don’t want to just plaster the link on FB, even if that would drum up more meals for them. Just a thought to keep in mind!

    Love the idea of the cooler — I hadn’t thought of that 🙂

  2. Anna Becker says:

    I’ve never heard of this before, but it’s a great idea! A friend of mine does backpack meals for hungry kids in town, and this goes a bit further. Thanks for the info!

  3. I loved your post on being a village and this is a great follow up. I made a meal in my slow cooker which I passed to a family we are friends with who’d just had their third child. I know Mum really appreciated it and maybe I should have set up a meal train for the first week. Will definitely think about this for the future.

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