What we eat impacts our mood, energy and health. Good nutrition is vital. However, patients often find little to tempt them on the hospital menu and loved ones often neglect their own wellbeing as they try to support their family member or friend. Worse still, if the patient is normally the main care provider then their partner or children may simply not know how to shop and cook.
Stepping in to provide well-balanced, sustaining meals is therefore a great way to help an individual or family struggling with ill-health, and this is best done by a group of family members, friends, colleagues or neighbours, each contributing one or more meals a week. Thankfully, there there are some very simple, free-to-use websites (listed below) that make coordinating a large team of willing volunteers effortless and allow many considerations — such as dietary needs, location, drop locations and times etc — to be easily managed and communicated:
- Re-heating: Since your food will likely not be eaten immediately after you deliver it, consider cooking meals that still taste good after being re-heated.
- Freezing: often plans change fast and unexpectedly for patients and their loved ones so meals may not be eaten when planned. If your food can be frozen, that is a huge help.
- Disposable or recyclable containers. Washing up and returning serving dishes are time-consuming and stressful so consider delivering your meals in aluminium or plastic containers.
- Provide simple cooking instructions. Remember the temporary ‘chef’ in the house may be a kitchen novice, so taking the guesswork out of food preparation will be really appreciated.
- Simple meal ideas: soups, stews, pies, salads, slow cooker staples or quiches.
A simple website that guides you through the steps needed to create a customised plan for your team of willing meal providors. It offers a list of meal likes/dislikes and food allergies; an interactive online calendar; alerts when dates are booked or cancelled; enables participants to make financial contributions; and creates reminder emails as well as sharing updates and photos.
A US based site that provides the opportunity to create or join a group of supporters for somebody that needs a helping hand, or if you are not such a confident cook you can alternatively order a chef-prepared meal gift from the site’s partners Magic Kitchen.
Take Them A Meal
A US-based website that enables you to create an online community in under five minutes to support someone you love with meals on a regular or infrequent basis, depending on their need. The site includes some recipe ideas and sends out reminder emails to those who have signed up to ensure all meals are delivered. The site also includes an online store where you can purchase frozen meals to be sent to loved ones from a company called A Bowl of Good.
For those who really want to help in this way, but find that they can’t/are not confident enough to cook, then there are companies that will send chef-prepared meals. We haven’t sampled these companies ourselves so can’t give a personal recommendation but these two have received many positive online reviews – ‘Cook’ in the UK, and ‘Magic Kitchen’ in the US.
The company says it cooks “using the same ingredients and techniques that a good cook would use at home so all our food looks and tastes homemade.” The Daily Telegraph’s review said: ‘COOK’s frozen meals look and taste like they’ve been home-cooked with love and flair’. Vouchers are available to give to loved ones so that they can select according to their own tastes and needs.
The company’s website says they provide, “delicious, nutritious, convenient and special diet sensitive meal options for individuals and families to eat well at home.” The range of food also includes complete meals and special diets with an expanded menu to offer meals for Renal (CKD Stage 3 & 4) and Dialysis-friendly diets.