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For many of us, taking food to someone is the ultimate gift of love. It can be the perfect answer to the perennial question “What can I do for you?” when someone is sick. For both giver and receiver, a homecooked meal can nourish the body and heal the spirit.
While a single meal is always welcome, people who are facing serious illness can benefit from long-term support. That’s where meal trains come in. A meal train is an organized way for many people to deliver meals over several weeks or longer. It allows a group of people – friends, family members or even individuals connected only by the person in need – to sign up for and coordinate their meal deliveries. Meal trains help avoid two dinners on Tuesday or three pans of lasagna in three days.
You don’t have to revert to paper and pencil to plan a meal tree. There are wonderful websites that make the job easy.
This perfectly named website is the mother of all meal trains. It’s estimated that 2 million people in 40 different countries use the site each month for all kinds of needs – from illness and surgeries to new babies, potlucks and military deployments. It’s free to use the site, although there’s a one-time $10 fee if you want to plan multiple meals a day and coordinate errands, rides, visitors and other support.
This free website lets people sign up to bring meals or provide other support. The online calendar can be used for errands, childcare or rides to appointments. You can also send gift cards and greeting cards from the site.
Use this site to create an online meal signup and find recipes that are simple to transport. The site even provides a service to send people a meal, which can be helpful if you live far away from the recipient. In this case, it pays to shop around as their meal options can be pricey. Or pool your resources with others to use the long-distance service.
This site operates similarly to the others, with the ability to create an online calendar, invite others and share the recipient’s likes and dislikes. It, too, offers the ability to send meals, which comes with the same caveat about pricing. You can also send vouchers called eTidings, so that recipients can shop for meals from the site.
Ready to get going? In our next blog post, we’ll share ideas for recipes and delivery etiquette.