When the table comes to you

Creating a meal train for friends | kristinschell.com

For the past month our table has been prepared by the loving hands of friends. I wasn’t sure how I would feel about not cooking for a while.  Preparing our family suppers is a creative outlet for me and an expression of love for those who gather for the meal. But I knew taking care of Sarah was going to require all my energy.

How does it feel to have meals brought to us? I have to admit, it feels incredible. Like a giant weight has been lifted from my shoulders. Each supper that is delivered to us is so much more than a meal. Baskets of tupperware and pyrex overflow with provision and love. We have dined like kings at a feast. Served and loved well by friends.

Like most women, I’m reluctant to ask for help. What’s up with that? Maybe you hear these soundbites play in your mind, too:

  • It’s just easier to do it myself.
  • I don’t want to trouble anyone.
  • Everyone is so busy.

Living in a village requires giving and receiving. Most of us are eager to give readily. Receiving, however, comes less intuitively. Receiving requires humility. Apparently, I’m lacking, but learning, humility.

My friend Julie offered to coordinate meals for us during Sarah’s post-surgery recovery. Jules lives in Washington, DC and setting up the meal calendar was a great way for her to participate since she couldn’t drop off one of her own delicious culinary creations. Julie is a fantastic cook and many of our daily conversations are spent sharing and comparing recipes.

Tips for setting up a meal calendar | Mealtrain.com

Julie used an online tool called Meal Train. There are oodles of care calendars to choose from, but we’ve been pleased with how easy and intuitive Meal Train is for everyone to use.

The calendar allows users to see what meals are being delivered (helpful in avoiding weeks on end of King Ranch casserole!) and offers specific instructions for drop off, dietary needs, and special requests.

Meal Train Calendar

This week’s meal train calendar. Are we lucky or what?

Needless to say, we are grateful for the gift of great friends. If you are headed into a season of caregiving for a new baby or recovering loved one, allow your village to love and serve you at the table. The blessing goes both ways!

Helpful Hints for Using a Meal Calendar (for the givers and receivers!)

  • Be generous with the meal schedule, but don’t over do it. Friends will bring plenty of food! We picked a M, W, F schedule for meals and enjoy the leftovers for lunches and the next evening.
  • Gently remind friends to use disposable containers. It’s difficult to keep track of all the dishes.
  • Place a large cooler on your porch for meal deliveries.
  • If friends ask what you want – tell them! Tell them your favorite meals or share your recipes.
  • Need inspiration? Here’s a list of recipes for our favorite family suppers which are perfect for delivering to a friend.
  • If you are bringing a meal to a friend, consider adding a big fruit salad or containers of chopped veggies. Fruit makes great snacks and the veggies are great to have on hand for quick salads throughout the week.
  • Don’t forget about breakfast. Sometimes suppers aren’t the hardest meal of the day. We’ve enjoyed the breakfast treats brought to us and everyone knows Breakfast for Dinner {brinner} is a winner.
  • Make space in your freezer. I’m so glad I thought to clean out the freezer before the meals started arriving.

What tips would you add to this list? And, do you ever find it hard to ask for help?


  1. says

    Kristin – What a practical – and inspirational – post. Just like sharing a meal over the table with friends can deepen a relationship, so providing a nourishing meal to someone in need can deepen our service. Food is so intimate and personal, and to cook for someone – to share something from your hands – is a blessing to all involved. It’s also a sacrifice and needs coordination and too much food can be a logistical difficulty just like not enough food. Highlighting the process for making this happen takes something like meal sharing out of the ethereal/romantic realm and makes is doable. Thanks.

    • Kristin says

      Thanks Charity. And I’m so glad you came by today. 🙂

  2. says

    I am someone who just despises casseroles (because of a season in the ’80s of people bringing food), but there’s so much more you can do. When people even think to throw in a bagged salad, I’m so grateful!

    • Kristin says


      I admit a good casserole hits the spot, but not for weeks on end. Come to think of it, we’ve not had a single casserole brought to us. 😉 And, like you… we are grateful for it all!

  3. says

    What a JOY for others to bring you a meal…. Truly… you do so much for others in countless ways. It is a gift. Love this post and love YOU!

    • Kristin says

      Sweet friend. How I wish we were in the same village. Like next door neighbors. Think of all the meaningful minutes at the turquoise table we could share! xo

  4. says

    Kristin, I am glad that you are learning to let people love on you in your own love language. It will grow your heart and the way you love others. I know that your nurse duties are still more-than-full-time and exhausting, even though you are not having to cook. I’m praying that as Sarah heals, you are being given moments of God’s supernatural rest. During those rare moments that you get to close your eyes, may He gather you up in His arms and rock you into rest like you’ve never known it. Also, my situation is sort of unusually suited to taking an overnight watch if you need to just crash in your bed. Please let me know if I can be of help that way. Tell Sarah that I think her surgery wins the Best Boo Boo in the whole Big Book of Boo Boos! xo

    • Kristin says

      Thank you Carolyn. What sweet words of encouragement. And I think Doc McStuffins would agree about Sarah having the Best Boo Boo! 😉

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