Get your meal train ideas here!
But first, do you know what meal trains are? They are pretty common in many parts of the country. Lots of churches, women’s groups, and other organizations arrange meal trains to help one of their members who may need help accessing food for some reason.
The idea of a meal train is that several people sign up to take meals to someone in need on different days, alleviating the need for food while also preventing burnout from one person bearing the burden of constantly trying to care for someone.
Meal trains are common compassionate service tools when someone is healing from illness or injury, has been laid off from work, has recently lost a loved one, or just welcomed a new baby. Circumstances like these can be difficult, and having one less thing to worry about (like prepping meals), can be very helpful!
If you are asked to participate in a meal train, consider tastes, allergies, amounts, abilities, and time, etc. You don’t want to make something complicated that will require work or time on the part of the person in need, who may not have the ability to do much more than warm something up. You also don’t want to prepare something that will cause you to spend a lot of money, or make something that won’t fill up everyone in the family. Lastly, you don’t want to make anything that the person is allergic to or simply can’t stomach. If you are unsure about any of these details, don’t be afraid to reach out and ask!
With that said, here are several suggestions that are affordable, easy to make and reheat, nutritious, and well-loved by many! And, bonus – many of these are kid-friendly meal train ideas!
Read More: 5 Things a New Mom Needs That are Helpful and Unique
Who doesn’t love soup? The correct answer is: no one! Batches of soup (or chowders, stews, and the like) are at the top of this list of meal train ideas because they are versatile, delicious, and affordable to make in large quantities.
You may wonder what type of soup you should make. Make one of your favorites, or, make a classic, like chicken and noodles. Pack in veggies and spices for richer flavors. Make a double batch, so you can feed your family and someone else’s. If you want to include sides, try oven-ready dinner rolls or cheesy breadsticks (we all love dunking bread in soup) or prep a simple Caesar salad.
Soup is an easy win for a meal train; you really can’t go wrong. If you need some ideas, try these:
Pasta dishes are also easy on the budget and typically loved by all. It’s also incredibly filling, and easy to make in double batches.
Like soup, there are millions of pasta dishes out there. Between various sauces, meats, veggies, and cheeses, your options are plentiful. Use a recipe that you feel confident will turn out well. For sides, make a salad or garlic bread.
Here are a few suggestions to help you with this meal train idea:
Another reason to consider this particular meal train idea is because pasta is a common comfort food. And if you’re feeling down or overwhelmed, pasta can really boost your spirits.
Read More: 5 Comfort Dishes for Your Next Meal Train
Sheet Pan Dinners
There’s nothing easier than throwing food on a baking sheet and cooking until it’s done. Sheet pan dinners can be cheap and nutritious, too!
Most sheet pan dinner recipes include a meat portion and one or two vegetables, so your main dish and sides are all right there. There is often some kind of seasoning and oil to drizzle on top for flavor. From there, you bake, and then you’re done! You can essentially cook a full meal, wait for it to cool a bit, cover it with aluminum foil, and drop it off on someone’s doorstep ready to eat, without any prep work for them!
Here are some sheet pan recipes to include in your meal train ideas:
This is another fan-favorite meal train idea – tacos! Everyone loves tacos, and they are versatile, easy to make in large quantities, and affordable.
Whether you use ground beef, steak, chicken, fish, or shrimp is up to you. Make sure you have veggies and cheese on hand. Sour cream, salsa, and guacamole would be great, too. If you want to include a side dish, consider making Mexican rice or refried beans.
Here are some recipes that fit the theme of this particular meal train idea:
Last but not least on this list of meal train ideas is…gift cards! Now, this may seem like a cop-out option, but here us out. Gift cards can be wonderful!
When, meal trains come to an end, as they must, those people in need may still need a helping hand from time to time as they heal or adjust to their new circumstances. That’s why a gift card to a food delivery service like DoorDash, Postmates, UberEats, or GrubHub (whatever is available in your area) is so helpful! Gift cards never expire, so they can be used at any time when getting dinner on the table is just too overwhelming. They don’t have to worry about picking it up, cooking it, or paying for it – you did all that for them!
Gift cards really are a wonderful way to participate in a meal train.
Read More: Meal Train Ideas That Aren’t Lasagna
Time to Serve
Remember, the meal train ideas listed here are just that – ideas. Don’t forget to ask about allergies and other eating preferences and constraints before you buy ingredients and start cooking. Unless you know the family well, you might consider avoiding overly spicy or unusual foods.
Also, please remember that giving your time and resources is a truly compassionate and kind act of service. Kudos to you for getting out there and spreading goodness in the world! You’re setting a great example for your kids and making your community a better place.
WANT TO READ MORE?
Check out Teaching Compassion Through Days of Kindness for more advice, tips, and tricks.
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