Ten Savvy Tips For Bringing Food To Friends

As I get ready for my move and a big trip this weekend, a dear friend, Maralee McKee has graciously agreed to guest blog for Southern Plate! I know you’ll love her as much as I do! Although, after reading her introduction and how she talks about me, I feel like I am gonna owe her more than just gratitude! ~slips Maralee a twenty…~ Just kidding! Thank you, Maralee! Gratefully, Christy :)

Greetinphotoblacksuitgs to my fellow Southern Plate readers!

We haven’t been formally introduced yet, but I already feel like we’re friends! That’s because friends share things in common, and if you’re reading this then we share something very special.

Our admiration and appreciation of Christy Jordan!

I stumbled across Christy’s sight by divine “chance”! Befuddled by the fact that my iced tea never turned out quite sweet enough, or deep brewed enough for my southern roots, I was searching the internet for a tea recipe when Southern Plate appeared.

I found her tea recipe and then had a few minutes to spare so I began exploring her site. Christy’s enthusiasm, wit, (Who doesn’t love a girl who say’s “Whatever cranks your tractor!” on a regular bases?) her charm, her passion for her family and her heritage drew me in like a cool breeze.

Christy and I chatted on the phone several times and became fast friends! Now, today I’m very honored to be with you. You see, I’m the mom of a newborn. A newborn blog. My little one is not even a month old, so to partner with Christy at this early stage in the life of my blog is a special thrill and honor.

Who am I and what’s my blog about? Well, thank you for asking. I won’t bore you, but I will share just enough so you’ll know my heart in writing this post.

I’m Maralee McKee and I was born and have lived all my life in Orlando, Florida. Yep, Mickey Mouse and the whole gang are just about 25 minutes from my front door. I’m a wife and the mom of two boys. Marc is 12, and Corbett just turned 7. My husband and I have the boys convinced that Disney is a long drive, just so we don’t have to hear them beg us every week to go ride the rides!

Professionally, I’m an expert in my field, a former TV and radio host, a newspaper and national magazine columnist, and the author of three soon to be released books.

My arena of expertise…OK, I’ll tell you, but promise not to prejudge! It’s etiquette. No, not our grandma’s etiquette. (Although, that was perfect in her day!)

I’ve evolved grandma’s social guidelines so that they’re no less impressive and other centered, but so they do take into account the needs and sensibilities of your everyday interactions at home, at work, and in your neighborhood.

My passion and talent is in equipping others in the words and actions of esteeming others in our daily encounters. I teach the language (due to human nature, it’s not our native tongue) of living out-in words and actions-that lifting up. Put these easy skills into action and well…

It draws people to you. You become a magnet of warmth more attracting than true north.

It’s the way I want to live my life. I desire to be the person that boosts and elevates those I encounter, stranger and friend alike.

Most days, I don’t even need to do anything big. It’s the little moments that make up our lives. Saying, “Thanks a lot. This latte looks delicious!” to the fellow behind the coffee counter. Starting a phone call by sharing, “Hey, you’re the person I most would love to talk to right now!” to the associate on the other end of the line. Running ahead of a mom pushing a baby stroller and saying, “Here, allow me to get the door.”

My brand of etiquette isn’t about bowing, curtsying, hosting seated dinners for 12 with butler service, or hiding who you “really” are so you can falsely impress.

My brand is about determining who you want to be and then purposing to live it out 24/7 until your desire becomes your virtue.

It brings dignity and an easy poise to your life. It isn’t effortless. It is rewarding!

I’m not yet there. I’m a lot closer than I was a few years ago. I’ll hopefully get another inch closer today. I love my journey.

Please come visit me at www.MannersMentorBlog.com and subscribe. I’d love to have you join me each week!

As a special blog birthday celebration, everyone who subscribes to my blog via E-mail is registered to win a $150.00 American Express ® gift card that I’ll be awarding on May 4. Leave a comment, and you’ll receive a second entry into the contest!

Since Christy is all about food, this post is about savvy tips for bringing food to friends when they’re ill or just need some extra help. I hope you’ll enjoy it!

Ten Savvy Tips for Bringing Food to Friends

When someone you know is caring for a new baby,
recovering from surgery or an accident, suffering from a death in the family, preparing for moving day, experiencing a financial hardship, or consumed with tending to a sick child, it’s a great time to ease your friend’s burden by gifting him or her with a meal.

Doing so can be just what the doctor ordered, and not just because the food provides for their physical needs.

Your meal, planned with care, made with love, and hand-delivered at a time when your friend is in the midst of stress, change, pain, or uncertainty, is an emotional salve of friendship more healing than most prescription drugs.

Before loading the car with your goodies, there are a few things you should know. Problems and disappointments arise and feelings can be hurt when the person making the food and the person receiving the food have differing expectations.

So what are your best choices?

Costco ® vs. homemade? A three-course meal vs. a single entrée? Haute cuisine vs. always reliable and tasty-if maybe boring-tuna casserole? Drop the food by at 11:00 AM so they can reheat it that evening? Bring it piping hot at 6:00 PM just in time for dinner?

Oh, the questions! Oh, the possibilities for your potential good deed to go undone.

The solution? A common list of expectations.

Follow the savvy, sincere, and simple tips below, and when you volunteer to prepare a meal you’ll know the full extent of your obligation. Also when you’re on the receiving end of the meal, you’ll know what’s coming your way and what additional plans you might need or want to make.

Add these tips to your repertoire and the only thing that will be remembered and appreciated longer than your meal is the love and friendship that you so obviously put into creating it!

1. What time? Ask your friend what she prefers. Usually, dropping food off piping hot from the oven just in time for dinner is the best, even if it cools off a little in the car on the ride over and needs to spend a minute or two reheating in the microwavmaralee3e.

2. Special kindness: Ask your friend on the phone in advance if you can serve them the meal. Make it clear you don’t want to join them, you want to serve them. Make yourself the headwaiter and chief bottle washer. This means setting the table, getting the kids ready for dinner, serving the food, then clearing the table, putting the leftovers in the fridge, loading the dishwasher, and cleaning the kitchen.
As soon as you finish, leave so your friend doesn’t feel like she needs to entertain you.

Caution: only do this if your friend has given you the green light. If she feels awkward about being served, this isn’t the time for you to try and change her mind. In the months ahead, she’ll remember the awkwardness more than she’ll appreciate the meal.

3. Costco ® or homemade? There’s a joke that says frozen food is the homemade food of the 21st Century! So, which to bring? Homemade is usually the better option for the entrée because you pour more of yourself into it.

Now, if you’re truly not a good cook or just really busy, then frozen or packaged food is OK, as long as you set your friend’s expectations when you volunteer. “Liz, I want to bring you a meal one evening this week. I wish I was kidding, but cooking isn’t a particular talent of mine. The London broil they sell at Costco® is really good and I’d like to bring that if it sounds like something you all would like.”

Another option is to offer to pick up food from their favorite restaurant. The problem is, that when you ask them what they’d like to order, it puts your friend in the awkward place of determining how much money you’ll be spending on them. In this case, it’s nicer to give them a gift card to the restaurant in advance so that someone in the family can pop in one night and bring dinner home.

4. If you do bring frozen or packaged foods, make sure you completely prepare them before you arrive. Keep in mind, you’re bringing a meal, not groceries.

A minute or so to reheat and spoon food onto their plates is the only task your friend’s family should have to handle prior to eating. So, prepare the frozen peas, pop open and bake the can of crescent rolls, and defrost the frozen cake pie before you leave your house.maralee4

5. Haute Cuisine or tried-and-true? In times of sadness or illness, we’re most comforted by the familiar. Even if you’re friend is a foodie, she’ll probably appreciate the standards of her childhood: casseroles, roasts, pot pies, soups and stews, meatloaf, etc.

6. When planning the meal, take into account who will be eating it. Ask your friend how many will be at dinner and whether or not there are any special dietary needs or food allergies. Keep in mind that spicy food is bad for breastfeeding moms and those recovering from certain surgeries. (Also ask about: caffeine, milk products, and chocolate.)

7. Ask what their children will eat. Mom and Dad won’t enjoy their meal half as much knowing they have to make one for the kids as soon as you leave because there is no way their five-year-old twins are going to be convinced to take a bite of your spinach lasagna and Cesar salad even though your own little ones gobble up every bite.

8. Bring as much of the food as you possibly can in disposable pans. It doesn’t look as pretty, but it saves your friend from dishwashing duties and from hearing empty casserole dishes rattle around in the back of her van for three months until she gives them back to you.

9. Make it clear when you volunteer to bring food whether you’re bringing just a particular dish or a whole meal. When many people are bringing food at one time (like after a death in the family), its fine to bring just one type of item: an entrée, side dish, or dessert.

However, when signing up to bring food one evening for a family, you are volunteering to bring the whole meal. This might be more food than you typically consider for a weeknight dinner. Think more along the lines of an old-fashioned Southern Sunday meal.

You’ll want to provide: a salad (fruit salad is a good choice if there are children in the family, because many young ones won’t touch a garden green; I know mine won’t!), an entrée, a vegetable, a starch, bread, drink (ginger ale and iced tea are nice choices), and dessert (homemade or bakery fresh).

I also like to bring something special just for the kids-a box of savory snacks and a box of sweet ones or cookies for the days ahead. If your budget allows, bring a little extra something when you come. A friend of mine who brought dinner after my first son was born included a CD of Michael McDonald Lullabies. (She had already given me a baby gift at my shower.) I still have the CD. It reminds me of the special first days with my baby and of how special of a friend she is!

10. One last thing: don’t cancel the day of and don’t show up late. If so, apologize profusely and make up for it soon by providing a meal they can keep in their freezer for future use. maralee5

Special Note: If you’re on the receiving end of the food make sure you call your friend that evening to say how tasty everything was and how much you appreciate their kindness. Within a week drop them a thank you note in the mail so that they have a permanent reminder of your thankfulness!

Add these tips to your repertoire and the only thing that will be remembered and appreciated longer than your meal is the love and friendship that you so obviously put into creating it!

Thanks for reading and please click here to subscribe www.mannersmentorblog.com!


Maralee McKee


We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit. ~  Aristotle

(Courtesy of Southern Plate reader, Ginger Veach. To submit your quote, click here!)


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    • says

      Hello Barbara!

      You’re so kind to comment! Glad you enjoyed the tips! How great that they arrived on the very day you’re fixing something to share wtih a new mom and her family! I know your thoughtfulness in providing for her family is really going to bless her tonight!

    • says

      Hello Mary Jo!

      Thanks for the sweet comment! It is sad that people don’t bring meals as much as in the past. I guess everyone is so busy, or maybe they all think it needs to look like somehting Martha Stewart prepared before they’re qualified to cook!

  1. Terri go Dawgs says

    Congrats on your new blog, Maralee and welcome to my fav place to visit, Southern Plate, as there are so many friendly people here on the “porch”. I appreciated your good advice, as I LOVE to take food to the ill, bereaved and sometimes, just stressed friends. Funny, I am making a meal RIGHT now for a family w/ wee ones to deliver this afternoon.
    I chk’d off your list: I have a lg. plastic Cool Whip container full of ckn/noodles and veggies in foil pie pans so no dishwashing….just like you listed( plus I write on top of the foil what is inside and any heating info). Plus, I made some brownies. I buy and store a variety of foil pans from dollar stores usually in a pack of 2, not bad for .50 each. I learned that nut allergies are common, so it is safest to leave out nuts. If folks are ill, don’t do greasy/spicy and broccoli gives painful gas (from nursing moms) to newborns…personal experience :-(
    The suggestion about the “thank you” note is great too. Awesome, Maralee!
    Have a ball Christy and we all can’t wait to hear about your trip. weeeee

    • says

      Hello Terri!

      The meal you prepared for the family today sounds wonderful! I know they’re really going to appreciate it, and you!! It’s great that you stocked up on the foil pans! I never thought of looking at the dollar store. There’s one right near my house so I’ll go fill my pantry with extras!

      You’re right, there are so many friendly people on Christy’s “front porch.” It is just the best place to be!

      By the way… Go Dawgs! (Yeah!)

    • says

      Hello Sheila,

      Glad that the tips gave you courage! It’s great that new knowledge goes a very long way in putting us at ease in our encounters. That’s my favorite thing about etiquette, and why I’m always excited to learn more and share it with others!

  2. Jayni Mosher says

    What a helpful set of tips. I, too, have not shared in this way as much as I would have like because I didn’t feel comfortable about what questions were okay to ask. You’ve given me a green light, and although this isn’t done much where I live, either, I try to set an example of graciousness in other ways, and I’ll add this to it.

    I visited and joined your blog–and how could I not? This piece led me there, but I looked over some of your other daily offerings while I was there, and let me just say that your words about how you want to live succinctly state my thoughts on the subject.

    Thanks very much for filling in for Christy–I feel I’ve found another new friend.


    • says

      Dear Janyni,

      Hello and thank you for writing! First of all, I love the spelling of your name. I’ve never seen it spelled like that, and if I had a little girl, I’d love for her to have your name. Very elegant and classic!

      What an honor that you like my blog! Thank you for saying so! I really feel like my blog readers are friends, because they truly are! It’s a joy to have you as a new friend! I look forward to getting to know you in the months ahead!

  3. Glenda says

    Hi Maralee, Just wanted to thank you for your wonderful tips. I really think we all need to be reminded when little ones are in the household to always bring something special for them. Headiing to your website now.

    • says

      Hello Glenda!

      What an honor that you found the tips helpful! Thank you for saying so! I’m so glad you joined the blog. It will be a joy getting to know you!

      You’re right, it’s always great to bring a little something for the children. Sometimes, especially with a new baby in the family, or if mom are dad are ill, they feel so left out or confused. A small gift goes a long way in making them feel more at ease!

    • says

      Dear Linda,

      What great news that the tips arrived the very week you’re taking a meal to a family! I know your kindness and work in prepariging their meal is going to really bless the family!

      Thank you for you good wishes, and God bless you, too!

    • says

      Dear Misti,

      Wow- there are so many Southern Plate readers bringing meals to famalies today and in the near future. It must have been meant for this post to go out today!

      Wish I could go with you to deliver your meal to the new mommy!. I LOVE newborns, which really scares my husband! I always come home and say, let’s try just once more, maybe this time we’ll get a little girl! One day, if i hurry so I don’t get too old, I just might get my wish!

  4. says

    Thanks for these tips. It’s such a blessing to have friends who are thoughtful enough to share their time and their food in difficult times!
    After having a couple babies myself, and having taken meals to many new moms, here are some other things I find helpful-
    1. Disposable pans are great, but also take along a pack of paper plates and a box of plasticware with the meal. No dishes to wash! Yay!
    2. I like to leave out a dessert (since most other people will bring one) and bring along a loaf of banana bread or similar. Then they have breakfast the next morning.
    3. Depending on how close you are with the person, take along a bottle of 409 and some rags and clean the bathroom really quickly before you go. It’s a small gesture and takes 5 minutes, but a clean bathroom always makes me feel better!
    4. Sometimes it helps to wait a couple weeks after a baby or surgery to take a meal. It seems like people often bring lots right away, but 2 weeks later (when new moms are REALLY sleep-deprived) is when they could really use a day off from cooking. People often won’t tell you when they are overwhelmed. We need to be looking for it.
    1 John 3:18- My little children, let us not love in word, neither with the tongue; but in deed and truth.

    • says

      Dear Karen,

      You have fantastic insight! Every tip you shared was gracious! Thank you so very much for letting us all in on your terrific advice. I love all of them! The ones about the banana bread or somehting for breakfast, and about waiting a couple of weeks, are extra thoughtful and gracious!

      Thanks so much for writing. I look forward to getting to know you on the blog!

  5. BillGent says

    Bringing food in disposable containers is truly a great suggestion and what I make sure to do after we had two children killed in an accident many years ago. The story had been on every TV station and the newspaper. So many people came by! I remember that we had 22 cakes alone.. not to mention all the other food that was brought. It was very hard to get the dishes back to the original owners at a time when it was hard to get out of bed.

    Two people stood out above the others however. One brought thank you cards and a roll of stamps for us to use afterwards and the other wrote down each persons name with what they brought.

    I remember reading a story from a woman who had lost some family members. She said the thing that stood out the most was that a neighbor came in and asked for the shoes the family would be wearing to the funeral. He then cleaned and polished each pair for them.

    Since our experience and reading that story that stuck with me, I’ve always looked for alternative things that may need done.

    Little things can mean a lot.

    • says

      Dear Bill,

      You were so dear and gracious to share the story of the death of your two children. Even though it was many years ago, it still, of course, is hard to bear, and you sharing it for our benefit is a dear and precious gift.

      My first husband died of cancer when he was 31 and I was 27. It’s been more than a decade ago, but at any given moment I can go right back to that time in my mind, and it seems just as real as if it was happening this afternoon.

      Like you, I remember the special kindessess of people, some I bearly knew. One stranger, prayed for me every day for my future happiness for 18 months until I met my current husband, another waited weeks until all the cards had stopped arriving and then shared pages, and pages of handwritten stories about everyday occurances of my husband at work. I still have and cherish her stories.

      Another lady popped over with a cake at 10:00 PM just becuase she knew I would be crying alone. She ate cake and cried with me. I’ll never forget it!

      Little things, in time of need, are the big things!

      Thank you again for sharing your story!

      Blessings to you!

    • says

      Hello Brittainy!

      Thank you for your note! I’m so glad you enjoyed the advice and found it useful! It’s always nice to know soemthing prior to needing it! I’m glad it will be there for you!

      Thank you also for joining the blog! I look forward to getting to know you!

  6. Cee says

    Hi Marelee,

    Its so nice to get to meet you. I love your post, it is right on with how I was raised. Unfortunately it is few and far between now with doing small favors like these to help out friends and family and neighbors. In my day, this was a common practice weekly. I still do it, and where I live now its not as easily accepted. Oh well, maybe some day I will convince others alike. It doesnt deter me, but just makes me more open to showing my southern roots.

    Isnt Christy just fabulous, I have been following her blog now for a while, and she is just wonderful. I have even found recipes here that I hadnt thought about since I was a kid.

    Thank you so much for your contributions, and I have already signed up for your emails.

    Cee Brusehaber

    • says

      Dear Cee,

      You’re so dear! Thanks for the sweet e-mail. I’m honored you’ve signed up for my blog. It will be a joy getting to know you there!

      You’re right, small acts of kindness don’t seem to happen as much these days. It’s my guess that as a society we exchanged our good manners for “an edge” thinking it would get us ahead. It’s only served to alienate us from one another.

      With the economy like it is, I see the silver lining of all this as being that we’re again foucsing on how inter-connected we really are to one another, family, friend and stranger alike.

      I’m glad you’ve joined me and all the others at my blog that are determined to do thier part in being the brigt spot and cool breeze in other peoples’ days!

      Thank you again!

  7. Dana~ says

    Welcome to the blogging world (as a reader NOT a fellow blogger!) I enjoyed exploring your site – and wanted to wish you a happy bloggy bday! Thanks Christy – for bringing such a wonderful guest poster to us=) Good luck with your move! and happy travels!!

    • says

      Hello Dana!

      Thank you for your sweet note of welcome to the blogging world, and also for exploring my site. You know, now that you metnion it, being with Christy does seem like my birthday, except it’s better! I didn’t get any older!

      Thank you again!

  8. says

    Thank you so much for posting this. My father just had a stroke last week, and I would love to make something for him once he is able to swallow foods. I will definitely take your tips into account.

    I also want to thank you for the positive and encouraging vibe you sent throughout this post. I hope to soon acquire the etiquette of which you speak.

    I will definitely subscribe and comment on your blog, not only to enter the giveaway, but also to spread some love! :)

    • says

      Dear Memoria,

      I was so sad to hear about your father’s stroke. May he recover in great leaps and bounds.

      Thank you for your kind words about the vibe of my blog. It was kind of you to notice, and your sweet compliment has helped to make my day.


  9. Karen says

    Several years ago, a good friend of mine had minor eye surgery. I told her that I would bring her some beef stew for supper. I do everything from scratch and enjoy cooking and baking. So, I took the stew and some cookies. To this day, she will comment on how good that stew was. I think having someone to show they care about you makes everything taste better. It’s been over 15 years and she still remembers me taking her supper.

    • says

      Hello Karen!

      Isn’t it amazing how our kind acts (that seem like no big deal to us) can mean so much to someone else. I agree with you, having someone show they care (instead of only saying it) makes for memories that never fade.

      All my best!

  10. says

    Thanks so much for the tips Maralee! I have a new baby and was on bedrest for five weeks before her birth. Since this was baby #4, I had three other children who needed to be fed and entertained during this time. I was so blessed with many ladies in our church who must have been given a cheat sheet of your tips before they came, because they followed every one! Many ladies called beforehand and asked if my children could use a playdate and would either bring their children (they checked with me first) or came and took my children to their house so I could rest. What a blessing that was! Several women came over “just to visit” because I was stir crazy, but once here they set to work folding laundry or sewing patches on my son’s scout uniform, whatever needed doing, while we sat and talked.

    Thank you for helping us Southern gals learn the fine art of hospitality and helping. It’s a lost art that needs to be resurrected!

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