It’s inevitable that one day you will have a friend or family member who becomes unwell or injured, or perhaps they have just had a new baby, and you want to help out by supplying some meals or other assistance.
There are a number of free services you can use. They are all user-friendly, take moments to set up, have flexibility (so you can schedule meals for one week or indefinitely) and promise privacy for each schedule.
Take them a Meal
Take Them A Meal is a free online tool which lets you quickly set up a meals schedule, taking into account their dietary needs, you then invite friends to participate and create a roster.
You can let people know about roster in a number of ways including through Facebook, text message and email, all of which automatically send the login details for your specific roster.
Apart from the organiser, there is no need to set up an account – you simply give friends a password that lets them access the roster and choose days they are going to provide a meal. A reminder email is sent to helpers the day before they are scheduled to deliver a meal.
Since the roster displays the meals that people intend on delivering, it means that you don’t need to worry about your sick friend receiving lasagne four nights in a row.
There is even a small selection of recipes that have been tried and tested, and transport well.
CareCalendar is another free online tool that offers a meal scheduling service with all the above services. CareCalendar also allows you to add in other assistance such as helping with housework, taking them to doctor’s appointments, childminding and helping with the school run.
One lovely aspect of CareCalender is the blog function which allows the organiser (or family member) to post status updates (so they don’t receive constant phonecalls) as well as photos if you have a new baby or want to share news and pictures.
SignUpGenius is well known for its sign up forms and offers over 400 picture themes when designing your form. While there are paid monthly subscriptions which provide all the bells and whistles, for an individual or group setting up a meals roster, the free version is more than sufficient.
Meal Train offers a free service that offers all of the above for a single meal per day (ie to provide dinners each day). For a $10 fee, they also offer Mealtrain Plus, which allows you to schedule extra daily meals and other assistance such as child-minding, lawn mowing, visitors and transport if required.
For people living in the US, Mealtrain also offers the option of donating money to either the organiser or directly to the recipient (minus some transaction fees).
Other helpful resources:
A guide to giving meals – some great tips and advice on gifting meals including links to recipes.
Barefeet In The Kitchen provides links to recipes for some yummy meals suitable for making in advance.
25 best Italian meals to deliver to friends.
The best meals to deliver to a new mum.