I thought we had arranged to provide meals for a couple of days for a family that didn’t really want the meals but were persuaded when we told them the ward loved them and wanted to serve.
I don’t remember the specific circumstances of the need, but the memory of the phone call I received around 6:30 p.m. on the promised evening is vivid.
The brother on the other end of the line was nice enough but hungry. He had two little boys and a wife who were hungry as well, and they were looking for the meal that should’ve been there an hour earlier. I responded with alarm and tried to find out what had gone wrong. After a few fruitless phone calls, I swooped up the meal I had planned to serve my family and drove it over to the home of the people who were relying on us. (I ended up taking my children out for fast food.)
I was embarrassed and angry, so when I was asked to write up some tips for compassionate service, the first thing that came to mind was this:
- Be prompt and reliable when it comes to bringing in meals. Don’t delay or forget.
- Do your homework on the family or individuals you are attempting to serve. Find out how many are in the household, who has strong likes and dislikes, who has allergies to what. ·
- Keep it clean. This is not the time to taste the soup or sneeze on the salad. Don’t let little Johnny taste the spaghetti or poke the cake.
- Keep it simple and recognizable. A fancy French dinner is less likely to please than something familiar and comforting like a roast and potatoes.
- Make it easy. Put the dinner in disposable containers that don’t need to be returned.
- Deliver instructions with the meals. How long does it need to cook and at what temperature? Is there ice cream in the dessert that needs to stay frozen?
Here’s a good recipe from Jenny Stanger, author of “Fabulous Freezer Meals” and of the website www.freezerdinner.com. It makes three casseroles that each serve 8-10 that can be prepared and frozen for compassionate service “emergencies.”
Turkey and Stuffing Bake
Yield: 3 (9 by 13) dinners
3 packages (6 ounces each) stuffing mix
10-11 cups turkey or chicken (cooked and cubed)
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese
3 cans (10 3/4 ounces) condensed cream of celery soup
3 cans (10 3/4 ounces) condensed cream of chicken soup
1 can (12 ounces) evaporated milk
1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) shredded Swiss cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
Prepare stuffing mix according to package directions. Add turkey and cheddar cheese. Combine the soups and milk in a separate bowl. Pour 1 cup soup mixture into each of three greased 9-by-13-inch foil baking pans. Top with turkey mixture and remaining soup mixture. Sprinkle with Swiss cheese. Cover with layers of plastic wrap or foil and freeze two casseroles for up to 3 months. Label the frozen dishes: 350ºF for 1 hour 20 min. Cover the remaining casserole with foil and bake at 350ºF for 30-35 minutes or until bubbly. Let stand 5-10 minutes before serving.
To serve: Bake, frozen and uncovered, at 350ºF for 90 minutes or until bubbly. Or defrost overnight in the fridge and bake at 350ºF for 35-40 minutes. Let stand 5-10 minutes before serving. (The fast way to do cooked turkey is to buy a 3-4 pound boneless turkey breast, bake it and then cube it.)
For more help, see the Sugardoodle website that features tips on creating a compassionate service binder idea that makes serving the ward easy.