16
May

Foster Family Support Tips

Foster Family veterans, Jim & Julie Davis with their adorable family.

Even if you’re not in a place to foster children or youth yourself, there are so many ways to support those who are foster families. 

We’ve had the experience of being a “Safe Family”, providing respite care for foster families such as being an occasional babysitter for friends of ours, the Davis family. While our support was usually very brief and short, it gave us a deep appreciation for the foster families out there. They really are changing lives.

You can be a part of it, too! Here are 10 ways you can support foster families in your church or community. Start with one for this month and feel the difference you make. 

Motivated to do more? Plan ahead and put reminders on your calendar for holiday months and events like Easter, Summer Break, Back-to-School, Thanksgiving, Christmas and even birthdays. Sprinkling care throughout the year makes it manageable for you and them.

Practical & Meaningful Support:

1. Bring food.

This is an easy way to start. A hot meal can bring a whole lot of comfort, even in the midst of a whole lot of chaos. You can serve a family by delivering a hot meal, assembling a few freezer meals or dropping off a basket full of yummy snacks. Everyone’s schedule and abilities are different, so don’t feel pressure to be a gourmet chef— show up in the right moment with a latte or iced tea for a foster parent with a new infant placement, and they just might do a happy dance!

2. Organize a FoodTidings Meal Schedule.

One meal is good, several meals is even better. Consider making sure the family has a steady stream of yummy support coming their way. This is especially important in the first couple of weeks after a new placement arrives. Also, you can set up a reoccurring schedule that spreads meals out; such as just Mondays for a couple months. This would give them something to look forward to, which could be a lifeline for a foster family. Creating a FoodTidings schedule makes this process efficient and convenient to rally others and is especially helpful for a family that is stepping up to welcome new kiddos into their home.

3. Gather supplies.

Be proactive and ask what the family needs, before and after a new placement arrives, Maybe it’s diapers and a baby gate? Maybe it’s bunk beds and blankets? Maybe it’s backpacks and school supplies? Especially if a family fosters children of varying ages and genders over time, the supplies they need start to add up — both financially and space-wise. Another idea is to offer to store supplies for them; extra space could be just the gift they need!

Strollers, car seats & baby gear are often needed! Cleaning out? Find a foster family to share it with.

4. Welcome a new placement.

When a child arrives to a new foster home, this time can be loaded with different kinds of emotions for everyone involved. Help the parents, and possibly their own biological children, welcome the child into their home. Talk with the foster parents about how to help with the transition. You could deliver a gift or activity that the family could enjoy together that first evening or week. Depending on your relationship, you might bring over some dessert and initiate a game night. Maybe you could help create a new tradition by joining them for a monthly neighbor and family night!

5. Become a primary supporter for a family.

Every foster family needs at least a few people to step up into their primary support circle. Two key ways you can help in this way is by regularly providing transportation and/or respite care.

Children in the foster care system often have a significant number of additional appointments, so providing rides for visits, after-school activities and appointments can be a huge blessing. Providing respite care — whether it’s just during an afternoon of errands, letting a couple get a date night, or caring for a child for several days — is a tremendous gift to foster parents and children. 

Laws vary state-to-state, but this may require a background check or special certification from the foster family’s licensing agency. For example, in Arizona, the Christian Family Care Center (https://cfcare.org/) does a fantastic job of coordinating Foster care, licensing, training, Safe Family programs and much more. Be proactive to find out what you need to do, and then follow through. Try to make this support regular, because your consistent presence could have a powerful stabilizing effect for both the child(ren) and the family.

6. Listen.

This is a big one. Foster parenthood (and parenthood in general), and the busyness and complexity that comes with it, can often leave foster parents feeling isolated or overwhelmed. Regularly and proactively check in with your friends to see how they’re doing. Grieve with them. Laugh with them. Pray with them. Finally, try not to give unsolicited advice; just be with them and listen.

7. Tell them specific ways you want to help.

You can bless a family by simply letting them know you’re available to help with day-to-day chores and errands. Then follow through! Most foster families feel awkward asking for specific needs but would gladly accept help with household tasks.

Say: “I’d like to mow your lawn this week. What day works best?” Then follow through.

Ask: “Could I help with your laundry this week? I will pick it up on Thursday and bring it back clean and folded on Friday.” Again, following through is the important part.

Other ideas: Offer to grab their week’s grocery list and deliver their groceries, provide transportation for foster and/or biological kids, or just ask them what errands you can help with.

8. Invite the whole family over for dinner or playdate.

As mentioned above, foster families — parents, children in temporary care and biological children — can feel isolated. Invite the whole family over for dinner or a playdate. Welcoming a child into a bigger community, offering warmth and hospitality, is a powerful way to show love to both the child and the family.

9. Gift them a membership or day passes.

Sometimes you need to get out of the house! Gift the family a day pass to a nearby water park or activity center. Offer them a membership to the zoo or a local pool. This could be such a fun and unexpected way to brighten up life for a family — and could be a great choice for a family in your church or neighborhood you don’t know as well but want to serve.

10. Pray.

Finally — and probably most importantly — pray. There are battles going on that we can’t always see. Pray for the child. Pray for their biological families. Pray for their foster parents. Pray for the biological children of the foster parents. Pray for court dates. Pray wisdom for the authority figures and decision makers. Don’t just say you’ll do it. Actually pause, and pray – set a reminder. Perhaps text the prayer to the family. Let them know you already did it, and will continue too. It’s a priceless gift.

Remember, you don’t have to do everything. Start with one small yes.

You can do it.

(References: Numerous foster family friends, Christian Family Care,  goproject.org, and personal experiences.)

Davis sisters, foster babies who found their forever family.

Rally Support for a Foster Family

FoodTiding meals do more than just feed them!

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Crystal Van Dyke

FoodTidings Contributor

I loved FoodTidings.com at first sight. My husband and I had the opportunity to join the Food Tidings team in 2011 as Partners, after meeting the original co-founders at our church. I have a Bachelors in Public Administration from the University of Arizona (Go Wildcats!) and a Masters in Health Services Administration/Strategic Planning & Marketing from The George Washington University. We planned my early retirement from the market 3 kids in and was blessed with a 4th to complete us; finishing with 2 boys & 2 girls. Our oldest is now launched, happily married and proudly serving in the Air Force, while the three at home keep us on our toes, amazed and inspired. As a full-time Wife and Mom, this website is my side-gig that serves as a personal ministry for our family. Seeing caring communities created, hope spread and generosity in action continues to be a motivator for all of us.  Matt 5:16

10
May

Tangy Tomato Brisket

Tangy Tomato Brisket; a recipe from The Pioneer Woman is sure to please the any crowd!
Photo Credit: Van Dyke Family, Brisket Day

We love having “Brisket Day” at our house and this is one of our favorite recipes. Four ingredients make it simple, easy and quick to put together – my kind of recipe. Then, you just enjoy the aromatherapy as it cooks all day. Whether for your family, a new mom, as Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman suggestions in her cookbook, “The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Food From My Frontier” (& we agree!), or for anyone who could use some comfort food — this is sure to please!

The Pioneer Woman said it, and we can vouch for it! Brisket is great to deliver to a new mama.

I was signed up to deliver a FoodTidings meal to a friend, so I just doubled the recipe and called it a day. Yes, that’s a LOT of meat – but, with my current crew of 5, including 3 growing teenagers, we barely had any leftovers. I’m glad I put my FoodTidings portion in its own pan, or it might not have made it out of the house!

Make this easy recipe for your family or a FoodTidings meal and be blessed by Brisket!

Tangy Tomato Brisket

Makes 8 servings

Ingredients:

  • One 5- to 8-pound beef brisket, trimmed of all fat (the butcher can do this for you!)
  • One 24-ounce bottle ketchup or chili sauce
  • 1 package dry onion soup mix
  • 1 cup water
  • Optional: Several dashes hot sauce, for spicier brisket

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 275 degrees F.
  2. Place the brisket in an oven-safe pan (see tip below!). Combine the ketchup and soup mix in a bowl, and then stir it around to mix. Pour in 1 cup water and stir to combine. (You can add more or less water as needed)
  3. Pour the sauce all over the brisket, and then flip the brisket over to coat the other side. Now just cover the pan with foil and roast in the oven for 6 to 7 hours.
  4. Remove the pan from the oven and test the brisket to make sure it’s fork-tender. The brisket should fall apart if you look at it! Slice the brisket into thin strips, then return the beef to the sauce and keep it warm until you’re ready to serve.

Source: The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Food From My Frontier, By Ree Drummond, p. 180-81

Watch The Pioneer Woman’s Brisket How to Video here!

Aluminum pans make it an easy clean up!

Tiding Tips:

1. A disposable aluminum pan works great, and is convenient for you and the Food Tidings Recipient.
2. Double the pan up to help avoid leaks during transport and when cutting the meat!!

Rolls, Baked Potatoes, Salad & Brownie Bites are great options to complete the FoodTidings meal.

Know a New Mama?

Celebrate the new bundle of joy and encourage the whole family with a FoodTidings!

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Crystal Van Dyke

Food Tidings Blog Contributor

I loved FoodTidings.com at first sight. My husband and I had the opportunity to join the Food Tidings team in 2011 as Partners, after meeting the original co-founders at our church. I have a Bachelors in Public Administration from the University of Arizona (Go Wildcats!) and a Masters in Health Services Administration/Strategic Planning & Marketing from The George Washington University. We planned my early retirement from the market 3 kids in and was blessed with a 4th to complete us; finishing with 2 boys & 2 girls. Our oldest is now launched, happily married and proudly serving in the Air Force, while the three at home keep us on our toes, amazed and inspired. As a full-time Wife and Mom, this website is my side-gig that serves as a personal ministry for our family. Seeing caring communities created, hope spread and generosity in action continues to be a motivator for all of us.  Matt 5:16

2
May

Grocery Tidings to the Rescue

Tidings are meant to bring comfort and joy. Grocery Tidings can give that and more, trust me.

It was one of those weeks. One of our cars broke down. We discovered our hot water heater had kicked the bucket by walking onto soggy wet carpet in our master closet. We were in the middle of getting a rehab stay situated for a close relative. Our schedule was full with work and kid activities. Then, my sunglasses lost a screw. That little sucker would change my next few months.

My parents live with us in our guest-house-turned-grandparents’-home, which I’m very grateful for – makes visits and caregiving much easier. Since my Dad has always been the ‘fix it man”, I ran over to have him fix my sunglasses. He was tracking down a replacement screw and in the midst of it, tripped over a toolbox. Life came to a screeching halt in that moment as my 77 year old Dad broke his hip.

Needless to say, my caregiving went to the next level. Now that my Dad was out of commission for at least 12 weeks, I added full time caregiver for my Mom, who had suffered a mild stroke and was recently diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease, to my schedule; in addition to my other wife, mom, work and life duties. I was grateful we were managing, but time was short and my to-do list was getting longer.

Then, my door bell rang. It was unexpected. I threw on a ball cap to cover my un-showered hair and ran to the door. I wasn’t in my PJs that day, so that was at least something. When I opened the door, it was like the heavens opened to bright blue sky, sweet music rang out and doves fluttered around. OK, there were no doves or music, but the sky was blue. More importantly, a dear sweet friend of mine was standing there holding bags filled with groceries.

I held it together as she handed me the bags and gave us get-well-wishes for my Dad and said she hoped I was hanging in there. I couldn’t speak, but our eye contact said enough. Being the understanding friend she is, she quickly said good bye and waved as she ran back to her car. I shut the door and, I’ll admit, a few tears hit my groceries as I walked to the kitchen.

I quickly blamed my misty eyes on my lack of sleep and the sweetness of generosity, as my kids looked at me weird. Then, after loading our pantry & refrigerator with the goodies she had brought and collecting myself, I immediately texted my friend a ton of emojis to express my thanks and appreciation of her, despite my lack of words.

Tiding Tip

Giving groceries to a family helps with food and extra margin to their schedule; time saved is always a welcomed gift!

My husband and kids were rallying to help and we had meal preparation covered. However, not having to run another errand gave us some needed margin. The gesture of gifting groceries, including actually doing the shopping & delivery so we were stocked with some snacks and prepared to make meals, was so thoughtful, useful and appreciated.

While I may forget what the actual grocery items were, I will always remember my friend showing up. Sometimes, that’s all it takes. Generosity and hope can take on so many forms and this time, groceries fit the bill.

Restocking the pantry is always a useful and appreciated gift.
Delivery makes it easy for everyone!

So, next time you know of a family or friend going through something – caring for a new baby, battling illness, fighting for their life, healing from a surgery, job change or anything else life throws at them – consider the many ways that you might be able to show up. Set up a Food Tidings schedule to help with meal support, make or send them a meal, get them groceries, have their house cleaned, write them a note or just let them know you’re praying for them. Big or small doesn’t matter. Showing up, does. 

FoodTidings is more than a website, it’s a community of people that show up. Our site will continue to add new features, services and products to help you help others; including things like grocery delivery, house cleaning gift certificates, lawn service gift certificates, thoughtful gifts for unique times in life and ways to collect funds so Recipients can use it as they see fit, and more. Stay tuned!

Our wish is that FoodTidings will help YOU spread encouragement, hope and generosity. Who can you show up for? 

Show You Care

Rally support!

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Crystal Van Dyke

FoodTidings Contributor

I loved FoodTidings.com at first sight. My husband and I had the opportunity to join the Food Tidings team in 2011 as Partners, after meeting the original co-founders at our church. I have a Bachelors in Public Administration from the University of Arizona (Go Wildcats!) and a Masters in Health Services Administration/Strategic Planning & Marketing from The George Washington University. We planned my early retirement from the market 3 kids in and was blessed with a 4th to complete us; finishing with 2 boys & 2 girls. Our oldest is now launched, happily married and proudly serving in the Air Force, while the three at home keep us on our toes, amazed and inspired. As a full-time Wife and Mom, this website is my side-gig that serves as a personal ministry for our family. Seeing caring communities created, hope spread and generosity in action continues to be a motivator for all of us.  Matt 5:16

24
Apr

How to Ask for Help without Making the Internet Mad

People dream of having a post go viral. However, this is a nightmare you want to avoid.

An expectant Philadelphia couple recently went viral for an eyebrow-raising request. In a post on another site like FoodTidings.com, the husband explained that he and his wife were expecting their first child — and, as social media users were fast to point out, expecting a lot from their neighbors, too. In his note, he asked for volunteers to help support them — via 30+ specific meals, emotional support and house chores. This was met with a cynical eye, to say the least.

In fact, their post was viciously ridiculed online. Given the backlash that was unleashed via national news outlets, I’m guessing that many new soon-to-be parents or people dealing with an illness might be hesitant to ask for help.

However, let me assure you – it’s OK to ask your friends, family members, neighbors and even co-workers for support. You just have to do it graciously.

Photo Credit: joemartinez.com

We were meant to do life together. When somebody is sick or has a baby, we want to rally around them. Although, asking complete strangers for food, then being very specific with what you want, feels demanding; especially in our tone-deaf, electronic world.

Whether you are about to have a baby, have a surgery scheduled or are dealing with a chronic illness, here are basic tips in asking for help – whether it’s online or in person:

“You just have to do it graciously.”

Leading with humility, grace and love smooths the path for support.

Let someone be your advocate

It can seem aggressive to personally post links all over message boards and social media sites. Rather, have a friend, family member, co-worker or church volunteer be the “Organizer”. Let somebody be your advocate and rally people on your behalf. Let them share, “Hey, our friend is going to be recovering over the next couple of weeks, let’s help.”

While it’s ideal for someone else to organize support on your behalf, the reality is when it comes to getting the word out, you or someone in your immediate family are often in the best position to reach your community. Generally, no one else will conveniently have access to all your contacts. You can very tastefully give support info by sharing something like, “Thank you to all who have offered to help our family, we are so grateful. My good friend asked me to share this with you…” (then, include the FoodTidings link or other info you are sharing). This is totally acceptable, and appreciated by those that know you.

Offer suggestions, don’t dictate

Supporters appreciate direction. Adding notes about dietary or medical restrictions are necessary (no one wants to make a condition worse!) and mentioning favorite foods or restaurants is super helpful. Asking strangers to make specific recipes is less reasonable; especially if there’s not a medical need.

To be clear, trying to eat “clean” or “Keto” is most often a choice, not a mandatory need. Chances are that you’ll cheat on any diet, at some point. Someone offering to make a meal for you is a great day not to be legalistic and to just enjoy the gift. You can hop right back on your “cleaner” wagon as soon as you are able.

Also, recognize that people want to help, but they do have their own lives going on; they may live far away, not be the best cook or just have a really busy week. Being willing to accept assistance in various forms; such as homemade meals, delivered meals, groceries, money gifts, chores, a visit or just a prayer. Gently outlining a few clear options for them is always nice, but allow people to figure out the best way they can support and contribute, guilt free. If you really can’t or don’t want to use a gift – feel free to (discreetly) give it away to someone that can use it. Let’s consider it regifting at its best – a win-win-win, with no hurt feelings.

Be grateful

Everyone wants to see the ‘star of the show’, and give their good wishes. If possible, make an effort to be on hand to accept the gifts your neighbors worked hard to deliver. However, most people will understand if recovering from surgery is expected to be particularly hard or that trying to catch naps to heal will have random timing. Coolers are on the porch can be used, but be sure that participants understand why that is necessary. Taping a “Hello” or “Sorry we missed you” note to the inside of the lid can be a surprise that will make them smile and let them know you wish you could have greeted them in person.

Always follow up with a thank you. The beauty of an online schedule is that it keeps a list of participants for you, so you don’t have to try to remember the details yourself. An email or handwritten note to acknowledge gifts is always welcomed and appreciated. 

In fact, in my book, a thank you is a requirement. I used to tell my kids, “If you’re not willing to write a thank you, then you shouldn’t take the gift.” If circumstances prevent you from doing a thank you yourself, be sure to ask someone to help with that, as well. A grateful heart goes a long way and I have no doubt that someone would love to be the hand that pays it forward for you.

Offer a hand

Do you know a family that is having a new baby, facing surgery, fighting cancer or dealing with a chronic illness? Save them from having to ask for help, see what support they could use and offer to be their advocate or organizer. Often, giving of yourself is so much sweeter than receiving.


Be An Advocate

Rally support for someone you know


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Crystal Van Dyke

FoodTidings Contributor

I loved FoodTidings.com at first sight. My husband and I had the opportunity to join the Food Tidings team in 2011 as Partners, after meeting the original co-founders at our church. I have a Bachelors in Public Administration from the University of Arizona (Go Wildcats!) and a Masters in Health Services Administration/Strategic Planning & Marketing from The George Washington University. We planned my early retirement from the market 3 kids in and was blessed with a 4th to complete us; finishing with 2 boys & 2 girls. Our oldest is now launched, happily married and proudly serving in the Air Force, while the three at home keep us on our toes, amazed and inspired. As a full-time Wife and Mom, this website is my side-gig that serves as a personal ministry for our family. Seeing caring communities created, hope spread and generosity in action continues to be a motivator for all of us.  Matt 5:16

17
Apr

Empty Tomb Rolls

My mother-in-law first made these rolls with my kids several years ago and we’ve been stuck on them ever since. It’s an easy Easter tradition that is sweet and meaningful…a perfect mix.

The original paper print out that my MIL gave me was getting pretty messy, so I searched Pinterest for a digital update. I have to admit, I laughed out loud when I read the story from Christy Denney, The-Girl-Who-Ate-Everything:

New Baby Meals

“The generosity shown to me after I had my third son Wes was unbelievable. Not only did my church friends bring in meals for 5 days but my friends brought in 4 meals after that.

Usually I have food issues. I’m not sure where it stemmed from. Maybe it’s just that I have found one too many hairs in food. Anyway, unless I know you well…and know that you are a clean cook, I am wary of your food.

A bit snobbish, but it’s the truth. After I had the baby, however, I didn’t even think about any of that. I was humbled and truly grateful for everyone’s willingness to help make a meal.”

-Christy Denney, https://www.the-girl-who-ate-everything.com/empty-tomb-rolls/

I get her. I’ve been known to side with the germaphobes. However, it is truly amazing how a small gesture of care can melt away some of our silly notions. That, and how pure exhaustion will make you willing to eat anything! 😉

Honestly though, I find that people are usually MUCH more careful when they fix meals for other people than they even are for their own family. I know I am, and I’ve seen the efforts of many others who are the same way. No worrying needed, just enjoy the gift of generosity!

I love that Christy’s gift meal included these Empty Tomb Rolls – such a great idea and nice gesture.

Perfect for Easter, or any time.

Here’s a breakdown of the symbolism of Empty Tomb Rolls:

  • Large Marshmallows – body of Jesus
  • Melted Butter – oils of embalming
  • Cinnamon and Sugar Mix- spices used to anoint Christ’s body.
  • Crescent Roll – the wrapping of Jesus’ body or the tomb.
  • Oven – the tomb
  • Cavity in bun – the empty tomb or the empty cloths

Tiding Tip

Printing out the symbolism for the Empty Tomb Rolls or sharing it with the Recipient will be especially thoughtful and meaningful for those celebrating Easter!

Empty Tomb Rolls Recipe:

INGREDIENTS

  •  1 8 ounce or (12 ounce) package refrigerated crescent rolls (the bigger size makes it a little easier to wrap around the marshmallow)
  •  1/4 cup sugar
  •  1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  •  8 large marshmallows
  •  1/4 cup butter , melted

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Separate rolls into eight triangles. Combine sugar and cinnamon. Dip each marshmallow into butter, roll in cinnamon-sugar and place on a triangle. Pinch dough around marshmallow, sealing all edges. Make sure to seal well or all the marshmallow will escape.
  2. Dip tops of dough into remaining butter and cinnamon-sugar. Place with sugar side up in greased muffin cups. It helps to use jumbo muffin tins so that the juice doesn’t overflow.
  3. Bake at 375 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes or until rolls are golden brown. Allow to cool slightly then eat warm.
RECIPE NOTES:

Source: The-Girl-Who-Ate-Everything, Christy Denney

Give Comfort & Joy

New Baby? Illness? Organize a FoodTidings schedule!

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Crystal Van Dyke

FoodTidings Contributor

I loved FoodTidings.com at first sight. My husband and I had the opportunity to join the Food Tidings team in 2011 as Partners, after meeting the original co-founders at our church. I have a Bachelors in Public Administration from the University of Arizona (Go Wildcats!) and a Masters in Health Services Administration/Strategic Planning & Marketing from The George Washington University. We planned my early retirement from the market 3 kids in and was blessed with a 4th to complete us; finishing with 2 boys & 2 girls. Our oldest is now launched, happily married and proudly serving in the Air Force, while the three at home keep us on our toes, amazed and inspired. As a full-time Wife and Mom, this website is my side-gig that serves as a personal ministry for our family. Seeing caring communities created, hope spread and generosity in action continues to be a motivator for all of us.  Matt 5:16

2
Apr

Food Tidings and The Joy Bus Share Common Goal to Support Cancer Patients

Source: https://www.thejoybusdiner.com/

Don’t you love meeting kindred spirits? While I had never actually met the people at the Joy Bus Diner, as soon as I saw their tagline, “Making our valley a happier place one meal at a time” and their mission to deliver meals to cancer patients, I knew we must be kindred spirits.

In fact, something kept drawing me to their work; from a Costco magazine write up to social media posts, I kept running into them; so I had to find out more. They are a local Arizona organization, the birthplace of Food Tidings and our home base for operations. While their service is targeted to a specific area in Phoenix, it’s too good not to share with everyone. At the very least, I hope others will be inspired to create a “community that cares” in their local area; a goal that Food Tidings and The Joy Bus mutually share.

The Joy Bus is a Not for Profit organization whose sole purpose is to relieve the daily struggles of homebound cancer patients with a fresh Chef Inspired meal and a friendly face. Like Food Tidings, The Joy Bus aims to relieve the burden put on families during this time. Seems like a match made in “meaningful meals” heaven, right?

“The Joy Bus is a nonprofit organization that delivers fresh, chef-inspired meals, social support, and nutrition education at no cost to homebound cancer patients within a 10 mile radius of 32nd Street and Shea Blvd in Phoenix. We deliver a meal each Friday and the meal is just half the fun, our clients also get paired with an awesome volunteer who is there for them to chat with and help in anyway they can. If a potential client is located outside of our delivery radius we do encourage them to still reach out as we try to make small exceptions wherever we can.”

TheJoyBusDiner.com

While The Joy Bus provides meals once a week, this is where Food Tidings complements their efforts. A Food Tidings meal schedule allows family, friends and co-workers to organize and rally, both near and far, to support cancer patients with meals they may need at other times. Being “kindred spirits”, my hope is that we both continue to serve as a resource to inspire, encourage and support cancer patients and their families, all week long.

Knowing people care about you can do wonders in the process of cancer treatment. All it takes is one person to get rolling; on “The Joy Bus” and/or with a “Food Tidings” meal schedule. Just imagine the difference we can make, together!

If you or someone you know in the local, Phoenix area can benefit from their services, I hope you’ll jump on board and check them out. Whether you need assistance or not, you can support The Joy Bus mission by stopping by The Joy Bus Diner and enjoying a meal that pays it forward; as all proceeds support The Joy Bus operations.

Let’s keep making meals meaningful and enjoy the ride, as we spread tidings of food, comfort and joy.

Love this quote.
Source: https://www.thejoybusdiner.com/
The Joy Bus CEO & Founder, Jennifer Caraway, with diner and meal delivery volunteers.

More details:

The Joy Bus Diner

FoodTidings.com

Know Someone Fighting Cancer?

Support them with a free FoodTidings schedule.


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Crystal Van Dyke

Food Tidings Blog Contributor

I loved FoodTidings.com at first sight. My husband and I had the opportunity to join the Food Tidings team in 2011 as Partners, after meeting the original co-founders at our church. I have a Bachelors in Public Administration from the University of Arizona (Go Wildcats!) and a Masters in Health Services Administration/Strategic Planning & Marketing from The George Washington University. We planned my early retirement from the market 3 kids in and was blessed with a 4th to complete us; finishing with 2 boys & 2 girls. Our oldest is now launched, happily married and proudly serving in the Air Force, while the three at home keep us on our toes, amazed and inspired. As a full-time Wife and Mom, this website is my side-gig that serves as a personal ministry for our family. Seeing caring communities created, hope spread and generosity in action continues to be a motivator for all of us.  Matt 5:16

21
Mar

Melt the Meal Idea Block

Sometimes I get “meal-idea-block”, unable to think of a “good” meal idea when I am asked to help a family with a dinner. Oh, the pressure. As though the meal needs to be amazing or they may think I’m a lousy cook! Sound familiar? Trust me, the struggle is real. So, let’s melt that “block”, together.

Here are a few ideas to keep up your sleeve (or anywhere handy that you’ll remember) for the next time you get asked to help with a Food Tidings schedule or a meal for a family.

I can assure you, these meal ideas are easy and travel well: 

  1. Breakfast for dinner: Scrambled eggs, or a quick egg casserole with onions, peppers, ham, and cheese; baked at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes. Add some pancakes or cinnamon rolls (from the tube at your local store), with fruit on the side.
  2. Taco night: Brown up some ground beef (seasoned to taste), and package up shredded lettuce, shredded cheese, jar of salsa and some tortillas and/or chips on the side. Feeling fancy? Throw in some guacamole!
  3. Winner, Winner Chicken Dinner: Roast a chicken with potatoes and broccoli, seasoned with butter and salt. A one-pan dinner! Or, in a hurry? Pick up a pre-cooked Rotisserie Chicken from Costco or local store, add your roasted veggies on the side.
  4. Casserole a la Easy: Make a chicken and rice casserole with mixed veggies: Add chicken (pre-cooked), rice, mixed veggies (frozen, works great!), can of cream of chicken soup, sour cream and top with cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Add fruit on the side, and you gift “fresh-comfort” all in one.

While these recipes or ideas may not win fancy awards, but they are meals that most families can and will eat. When a family is in need, that’s the most appreciated thing about getting a meal; they can enjoy it without having to think about it. Also, these meals require no special ingredients and can be made in double batches so you can feed your family that night, too!

Tiding Tip

Once you’ve signed up to make a Food Tiding dinner, plan to make it in a double batch so you can feed your family that night, too.

Again, these are just a few general ideas to keep in mind. Go with it as they are, or use them as general themes to start the ideas flowing. If you’d like more specific recipe details, you can always use your favorite recipe(s) or find something on Pinterest or online.

In the end, I hope you’ve gained a few simple, quick, go-to dinner ideas to relieve the pressure the next time you are asked to serve another with a Food Tidings. Never be “meal-idea-blocked”, again. Be confident and, most importantly, know that anything will be appreciated!

Create A Schedule

Put these easy meal ideas to work for someone you care about!

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Leanne Schinella

Food Tidings Blog Contributor

After being the recipient and participant in many meal schedules, my husband and I co-founded Food Tidings in 2007. We have 8 children, 3 dogs, 2 cats, 9 chickens, 1 hedgehog and 2 bunnies (yes, we are THAT fun) 🙂 When I’m not on wife or mom duty, I love photography and capturing family moments, for other families and my own, to treasure.

15
Mar

IRISH GUINNESS BEEF STEW (Slow Cooker or Instant Pot)

It was my lucky day. I was searching for a hearty, Irish meal for St. Patrick’s Day a couple of years ago, and discovered this recipe from The Cookie Rookie. It was like finding a pot of gold at the end of a dinner-recipe-search rainbow!

I’ll have to admit, I’m personally not a beer drinker. However, I love Ireland and find the history of the Guinness family interesting. A few years ago, I got to tour the Guinness Storehouse/Brewery in Dublin, Ireland and managed to get down the traditional class of Guinness at the end. I still have the glass to prove it. It was a fun experience and I’d highly recommend the tour, with or without the ending taste “test”. This recipe flooded me with memories of that trip and I had to try it.

Guinness Storehouse, Dublin, Ireland
Source: https://www.guinness-storehouse.com/en

Whether you are a beer fan or not, the aroma of this “Irish Stew” will fill your home with cooking-happiness and the flavor of this stew will leave a lasting impression. It’s hearty, comfort food at its best. Don’t miss out.

This recipe comes with our family’s “Van Dyke Seal of Approval”; which is among an elite few (it can be tough getting 6 people to agree, sometimes!). In fact, it immediately became one of our son’s favorite meals; so much so, he requested it as his “Birthday Meal” (over a restaurant choice). Since then, it’s been in the regular dinner rotation in our house; especially during the cooler months.

So, go ahead and add a little “Irish” to your dinner or someone else’s.


Ingredient prep is simple and goes quick.

Ready to cook! My trusty crock pot is still my friend; but on my busy days, my Instant Pot is my fast and fun BFF.


THE RECIPE:

(Adapted from Becky Hardin | The Cookie Rookie’s “Irish Guinness Beef Stew (Easy Slow Cooker Beef Stew”)

PREP TIME: 15 min

COOK TIME: 8 hrs – Slow Cooker; 1 hr 20 min – Instant Pot

Serves 6-8

INGREDIENTS

  • 10 small red potatoes, quartered
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can sliced carrots
  • 2 full stalks celery, chopped
  • 3 lbs stew meat, cubed (Note: You can make this stew “fancy” (eg. for a Birthday Meal) by using Sirloin Steak, which I use when it’s on sale; otherwise, general stew meat works great)
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups diced onion
  • 2 (8 ounce) cans tomato sauce
  • 10 ounces beef broth (about 1/3 of a large box)
  • 1 (13 g) envelope Onion Soup Mix
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 12 ounces (1 bottle) Guinness Stout
    • Tip: Some grocery stores will sell individual bottles, so you can purchase only what you need. Even if you’re not a big-beer fan (don’t tell that to your Irish friends!), the flavor of this stew is worth the effort!

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Put potatoes, carrots, and celery chunks in the bottom of crock pot on low heat. Pour in beer, beef broth, garlic powder, salt and pepper, soup mix, and basil. Stir to combine.
  2. Season beef lightly with salt and pepper and then coat in the flour.
  3. Heat oil over medium high heat in a large skillet. Cook the beef until almost browned, and then add in the onion. Continue turning and browning until the meat is fully browned and the onions are soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. (You might want to brown the meat in batches, so it doesn’t get too crowded.)
  4. Add meat and onions to the slow cooker.
  5. Stir in the tomato sauce and cover, heating on low for 8 hours or high for 4 hours. Low is best, but if you don’t have the time, high will work! (*Or in Instant Pot: You can use the “Meat/Stew” button. On busy days, I usually cook it through the cycle TWICE on this setting (1.2 hrs total), to get the meat to extra “fall-apart” goodness; then, let it “stew” or warm until we’re ready to eat.)
  6. Serve with lots of bread! Enjoy!

Tiding Tip

This stew is hearty enough as a full meal by itself. Package it up for your Food Tidings delivery in a disposable pan/dish and deliver it with a french or sourdough baguette. The Recipient will savor the taste for days; be grateful to you, forever.


Sitting down to this meal just soothes the soul, every time.

Tiding Tip

Adding an “Irish” dessert would make a fun meal addition near St. Patrick’s Day or add an “international” flare to an everyday meal (Unless your Irish, of course…then, it’s just a regular ol’ brilliant meal, anytime.)


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Crystal Van Dyke

Food Tidings Blog Contributor

I loved FoodTidings.com at first sight. My husband and I had the opportunity to become a Food Tidings Partner in 2011, after meeting the original co-founders at our church. I have a Bachelors in Public Administration from the University of Arizona (Go Wildcats!) and a Masters in Health Services Administration, emphasis in Strategic Planning & Marketing from The George Washington University. We planned my early retirement from the market 3 kids in and was blessed with a 4th to complete us; finishing with 2 boys & 2 girls. Our oldest is now launched, happily married and proudly serving in the Air Force, while the three at home keep us on our toes, amazed and inspired. As a full-time Wife and Mom, this website is my side-gig that serves as a personal ministry for our family. Seeing caring communities created, hope spread and generosity in action continues to be a motivator for all of us.  Matt 5:16

21
Feb

Do I have to Cook?

Ok, let’s be honest shall we? Sometimes we get a Food Tidings invitation and we want to help the family but, we DON’T.WANT.TO.COOK.A.MEAL! 

This doesn’t just happen to me, does it? Anyone? Well, today I am going to let you in on a tip. The meal you bring does not have to be homemade. There, I said it. Is a homemade meal yummy? Of course! But, the main reason you are providing a meal is to take pressure off a family or someone you care about in their time of need. Usually, the reason for the Food Tiding schedule is taking up their time and emotions, so you’re just trying to help them not worry about a simple thing like what to eat. It doesn’t matter where the food actually comes from or who exactly made it. If it’s edible, it counts and will be appreciated. I think that’s something we can all agree on.

Tiding Tip

The meal you bring does not have to be homemade! Food Tidings’ “Send a Meal” option will represent you well and provide a great meal for the Recipient!

At Food Tidings, we simplify it for our schedule Participants by offering the option to “Send a Meal“, straight from the schedule page, that is made by a gourmet chef’s kitchen. For those of us that have those days when we just don’t want to cook, they are waiting and willing to do it for us. Check out the made-for-you-meal options in our Shoppe, anytime. Not only are their meals extremely “edible”, but they are very tasty, get high reviews and they ship nationwide via FedEx. 

The “Send A Meal” option on a Food Tidings schedule delivers it right to the Recipient’s door!

Trust us, these are NOT your average frozen ‘TV dinners’ and offer a great alternative to ‘fast food’ when you want to provide a real home-style meal. The meals offered in our Shoppe are freshly made with the best ingredients, flash frozen to seal in flavor and shipped in a cooler with dry ice to make the trip to your Recipient. The Recipient will be able to use the meal the day it arrives, or it can be refrigerated or frozen to use at their future convenience. It is great quality, will represent you well and very thoughtful.

Tiding Tip

You can “Send a Meal” on a family’s Food Tidings Schedule by signing up on a specific date and choosing that option OR you can scroll down to “Help Another Way” to go straight to the Shoppe and make your selection.

Whether you’re local and not up for cooking this time or you live far away and are not able to drop off a meal – the “Send a Meal” option will make it easy to participate and still let the Food Tiding family know you are thinking of them. So, next time that email shows up and the desire to serve is high but you’re motivation to cook is low, order them a tasty meal and still send your love! They’ll appreciate it all the same.

Sample of delicious meals in the Food Tidings Shoppe available as ‘Send A Meal” options!

Tiding Tip

When using the “Send a Meal” option on a Food Tidings Schedule, the Recipient’s delivery address is automatically sent to our vendor – so you won’t have to provide it, the Organizer has already done the work for you! 

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Leanne Schinella

Food Tidings Blog Contributor

After being the recipient and participant in many meal schedules, my husband and I co-founded Food Tidings in 2007. We have 8 children, 3 dogs, 2 cats, 9 chickens, 1 hedgehog and 2 bunnies (yes, we are THAT fun) 🙂 When I’m not on wife or mom duty, I love photography and capturing family moments, for other families and my own, to treasure.

All meals matter!

home cooked or delivered are welcomed

12
Feb

Baked Chicken Tacos

TACO-TIDING-TO-GO!

Oven baked chicken tacos have lots of flavor and none of the stress, great for a Food Tidings delivery. 

Tacos to go would fit nicely in a disposable pan. (Photo Credit: TheCookieRookie.com)

This Baked Spicy Chicken Tacos Recipe is the most popular recipe on TCR, being pinned over 2 million times and viewed over 5 million times!

TheCookieRookie.com

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 pound cooked chicken shredded (pre-cooked Rotisserie chicken makes it easy! )
  • 1 ounce Taco Seasoning click for homemade recipe!
  • 1/2 cup onion diced
  • 1 can diced tomato 14.5 ounce, fully drained
  • 1 can Chopped Green Chiles 4.5 ounce, fully drained
  • 10 Stand and Stuff Taco Shells, Old El Paso or other
  • 8 ounces Refried Beans 1/2 can
  • 2 cups Mexican Blend Cheese shredded

Be ready to finish off with sliced jalapenos, sour cream, salsa, chopped cilantro, shredded lettuce or any of your favorite taco toppings!

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 400F. Spray a 9×13 baking dish with nonstick spray.
  2. Heat olive oil over medium heat in a medium skillet.
  3. Add onion to skillet and cook for 2-3 minutes, or until the onion is translucent and fragrant.
  4. Stir in the chicken, taco seasoning, tomatoes (FULLY DRAINED), and green chiles (FULLY  DRAINED) *see note. Stir to combine fully. Reduce to simmer and allow to cook for 5-8 minutes.
  5. Place the taco shells in the baking dish (disposable pan, for a Food Tiding), standing up. Typically, you can fit 10+ taco shells in the dish by adding 2 on each side.
  6. Bake the taco shells for 5 minutes by themselves to allow them to crisp up. Remove from the oven.
  7. Spoon 1 tablespoon of beans into the bottom of each taco shell. Top with the chicken mixture, almost to the top of each shell.
  8. Sprinkle each shell generously with shredded cheese, the more the better!
  9. Bake for 7-10 minutes or until cheese is fully melted and the edges of the shells are browned.
  10. Remove from the oven and top with your favorite items such as jalapenos, sour cream, cilantro, and salsa. Adding toppers on the side for a Food Tiding will be easy, colorful & much appreciated.
  11. Enjoy!

HOW DO YOU KEEP THE SHELLS FROM GETTING SOGGY ON THESE CHICKEN TACOS?

Here are some troubleshooting tips:

  1. Bake the shells for 5 minutes on their own before stuffing them with all the delicious toppings and cooking all the way. This way they have the chance to really crisp up on their own before you get started.
  2. Make sure refried beans are the bottom layer, creating a bit of a barrier between the chicken mixture and the shell. The shells are bound to be less crispy on the bottom than they are at the top, and that’s just part of what happens when you bake them, but they SHOULD NOT break or be soggy.
  3. The other truly important step is FULLY DRAINING the tomatoes and green chiles before adding into the chicken mixture. It’s recommended that you first drain, then letting sit over a bowl in a strainer for about 5 minutes to make sure they drain all the way. This will help to keep the shells crispy, so important!

Thank you, The Cookie Rookie  – one more yummy recipe for the books!

Pan perfect, easy to transport & serve. (Photo Credit: TheCookieRookie.com)

Then, be the first to sign up for Taco Tuesday, or Taco Any-Day!

You’ll get a smile, guaranteed.