If you know someone or have a friend who has lost a loved one, one of the most thoughtful and popular ways to show sympathy and offer condolences is to send the deceased’s loved ones a meal. Through this thoughtful act, it lets the family know they are in your thoughts and it relieves them of the burden of shopping for and preparing food. Having good healthy food to put on the table quickly and easily is especially important when stress is high and there is a lot to do before and after the funeral.
When it comes to preparing sympathy meals, you can provide a meal for the grieving family on your own or work with a group to deliver multiple meals. It is fine to give sympathy meals either before or after the funeral, or both.
Working on your own is a simple and straightforward way to lend a helping hand. You can prepare one meal or several. It’s entirely up to you and will undoubtedly be appreciated.
A more coordinated effort is also a great way to go and is commonly referred to as a “meal train.” The meal train concept is simple: you get others involved to help with the meal prep and you develop a schedule of sympathy meals for delivery to the family on given days. The advantage of this approach is that you can make sure you include a variety of selections and so that the family in need doesn’t get overwhelmed with a bunch of food all at once. That way, you don’t risk having; for example, lasagna delivered several nights in a row or 5 meals all on the same day. A meal train is a great way to provide meals over an extended period.
Popular Sites for Setting Up Meal Trains
There are several services available to assist with setting up and coordination of the meal prep. Here are a few sites that we found that could help you to rally a group for this effort.
We found a few really great recipe ideas on this Pinterest board: https://www.pinterest.com/funeralwise/funeral-food/
Sympathy Meals: Considerations
Whether you decide to go it alone or make your meals a group effort, there are some things to keep in mind.
Involving the Family
If you are making one meal for a family you know well, you may be able to decide what to make without talking directly with them. On the other hand, if you plan to set up a meal train or make multiple meals, it’s best to get some guidance from the family. That way you are sure to provide meals they will enjoy.
If you are setting up a group effort, choose one person to be the contact. That way the grieving family doesn’t have to answer numerous calls and respond to the same questions over and over again. If you don’t know the family well enough to feel comfortable asking questions, enlist the help of someone who is better acquainted with them. Below are some of the questions you should get answers to before kicking off your organizing effort.
Questions to Ask Before You Start Cooking
· How many people are in the household and are there special considerations due to age? For example, if there are young children you want to make sure that you consider the type of food they like as well.
· How would they like the meals timed? You want to have the food dropped off at a time that is convenient for the family and coincides with their meal schedule.
· Do they have special drop off requirements? It may work best for the family if the meals are placed in a special cooler outside their door. Or perhaps they would like to receive a text that you are on your way or the food has been dropped.
· Does anyone have food sensitivities or food allergies? Allergies are of particular importance. You do not want to include foods that may cause an allergic reaction.
· What type of foods do they like? Everyone has preferences. Perhaps they don’t care for spicy food or a certain type of ethnic cuisine. That’s not to say that you have to prepare a specific meal, but you do want to avoid foods they specifically avoid.
The point is, you are trying to make the lives of those who are receiving the meals easier. It is counterproductive to provide meals they can’t or won’t eat.