Blog

14
Aug

Refresh Your Views on Frozen

Photo: FruitsandVeggies.org

“We’ve seen when ‘frozen’ actually warms the heart.”

Can you imagine life without a refrigerator or freezer? From the store or when planning ahead for dinner time, frozen food or meals are a staple item in most homes. We’ve seen this translate to a Food Tidings schedule, as well — groups will get together and make “freezer meals” to stock up for a family welcoming a new baby, Organizers will request extra portions of soup or a meal so the Recipient battling cancer can freeze the food for a future use or a Participant who lives in another state will have a meal shipped, grateful they can contribute to supporting their relative recovering from surgery. We have seen when ‘frozen’ actually warms the heart.

It’s been proven time and time again, that frozen meals can be a great fit for Food Tidings’ Participants and Recipients, alike. They are convenient to purchase when you are busy or live far away and easy and handy for the Recipient to enjoy at their convenience. That’s why we offer “shipped” or flash frozen meal options in the Food Tidings Shoppe; making it possible to provide a consistent, nationwide meal option to support families, in addition to the home-kitchen or local restaurant.

We take quality very seriously, so we make sure our vendors provide chef-prepared frozen options that make a you proud and represent you well. Trust us, these are not your Daddy’s frozen TV dinners who got a bad rap because they were processed, additive laden, and free of flavor – unless you count the taste of the aluminum tray, that is. Today’s frozen meals are a far cry from the foil-encased atrocities of yesteryear. They have come a long way, baby – thank goodness! In fact, we vet vendors to ensure they are providing the highest quality ingredients, keeping meals preservative and chemical free, flash freezing freshness in and using the most careful packaging and shipping for pre-made healthy meals; not to mention excellent customer service. 

The Food Tidings Shoppe has individual or multi-meal options, to fit every need.
Shown: MagicKitchen.com’s Shrimp Fettuccini Alfredo, Chicken Parmigiana, Chicken and Artichoke with Spinach.

Additionally, we do most of the thinking for you! We select a variety of meals that meet various diet requirements, as well as covering plenty of the good ‘ol comfort food options. Our vendors, such as MagicKitchen.com, work with us to customize meal packages that fit our customer base; targeting favorites and nutrients that hit the mark for new Moms, surgery recovery, special diets, soups for those battling cancer or looking for lighter fare, etc. In-house chefs whip up these favorite dishes in small batches and immediately flash freeze them for delivery to a Recipient’s doorstep. Think of them as your personal chef and courier service, with a much lower price tag than if you hired them each yourself!

Photo: © BRAVISSIMOS / GETTY IMAGES Source: FoodandWine.com

We’re big freezer believers and fans. Here’s five reasons frozen foods are often better than fresh:

Freeze the flavor

Flash-freezing produce and meals ensure the Recipient gets perfectly vine-ripened flavor whenever they’re ready to heat and eat. Typically, “fresh” produce is harvested early, before peak ripeness and then must ripen in a truck on the way to a grocery store.

Nutrients on ice

Key vitamins, nutrients and other good stuff is locked in when foods are frozen fresh. After just five days in the fridge, “fresh” produce counterparts loose vitamin A, vitamin C and folate.

Easy freezy

Once frozen, produce and meals are no longer in a race against the freshness clock. Mealtime simply becomes more convenient. Frozen meals are easy to store – easy to make on the Recipient’s own schedule.

Frozen in time

Frozen food stays better for way longer. Ice is nature’s pause button and is perfect for the unpredictable, busy lifestyles of the real world.

Price drop – Savings 

Because it’s easier to prepare and store, frozen foods end up saving money with much less waste. Less food going bad, more time to enjoy mealtime – it’s a win on all fronts. 


Rest assured, science is on the side of frozen and you can be, too. We’ve tried our vendors’ frozen meals and we haven’t tasted a meal we didn’t like. We trust your Recipient will feel the same!

MagicKitchen.com’s Soup Bundle is a perfect gift for Fall & Winter or for a family needing a lighter fare for dinner.

Frozen or Hot is always better than Not.

Warm someone’s heart, today!

Sources: 

5 Reasons Why Flash Frozen Food is Better

Could Frozen Vegetables Be More Nutritious Than Fresh? 

5 Reasons Frozen Food is Better than Fresh, Veestro.com

7
Aug

Easy Week Night Dinners for Busy Families

Don’t you love when you stumble on a Pinterest “Gem”; you know, a link that actually works and gives you not only what you were originally looking for, but so much more! Recently, we found one – Our Home Made Easy: Helping Working Moms Create Extraordinary Homes the Easy Way. We like the way Brittany, the blog’s creator, thinks. And, as an added bonus for us, she’s local to Phoenix, AZ; the birthplace of Food Tidings. It’s always nice to support “local”, when you can!

Our Home Made Easy created a pin for “20+ Super Easy Recipes for Dinner Time”. We invite you to check out her entire post and website, but here’s a sampling of dinners…all of which would be great options to easily double the recipe, package up the extra & deliver it as a Food Tiding to make someone else’s night, too. In fact, we bet you make their whole week, at least!


Thanks for Keeping It Simple, Brittany!


Tiding Tip

Easily double a recipe, package up the extra & deliver as a Food Tiding to make someone else’s night “easy”, too!


Easy Dinner Recipes:

Sharing them in FULL color, so you can practically taste them – enjoy!

Slow Cooker Turkey Meatball Subs

Source: Our Home Made Easy

Philly cheesesteak Crescent Ring

Source: I Wash You Dry

Parmesan Garlic Spaghetti

Source: Damn Delicious

20 Minute Healthy Chicken Burritos

Source: Redefined Mom

Chicken Noodle Casserole

Source: Life In the Lofthouse

Easy Fried Rice

Source: Good + Simple

Chicken Broccoli Alfredo

Source: Julia’s Album

Cheesy Party Burgers

Source: Kevin & Amanda

AND, since we can’t leave out dessert:

Gluten Free Monster Cookie Cheesecake

Source: The Recipe Rebel

Be the “Easy Dinner Night” for a family

rally the troops and spread some kindness

26
Jul

Easy Midwestern Cucumber Salad

Photo Credit: The Simple Pantry

I became a huge Cucumber Salad fan while visiting the family my husband lived with when he was a high school exchange-student in Germany. It’s a common tradition in many areas around the globe, with local variations that make it a home-town staple.

This “Easy Midwestern Cucumber Salad” recipe by Karly at The Simple Pantry is a great take on the traditional vinegar-based version. This would be a great appetizer or side dish. Give it a try and add a side of “COOL” to your Food Tidings meal. Be sure to make extra to have at home, too!

Cool Cucumber Goodness!
Photo Credit: The Simple Pantry

Easy Midwestern Cucumber Salad Recipe

Prep Time 10 minutes

Total Time 10 minutes

Total Servings 4

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup Sour Cream
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon fresh dill
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • Cracked Pepper, to taste
  • 3 cups cucumbers, sliced thin
  • 1 cup red onion, sliced thin
  • 1 cup canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • ¾ cup feta cheese

Instructions

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the Sour Cream and white wine vinegar. Add the dill, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper and whisk gently. Taste and adjust seasoning as desired.
  2. In a large bowl, add the cucumbers, red onion, chickpeas, and feta cheese. Drizzle with the dressing and toss gently to combine.
  3. Pack it up in your favorite go-to disposable dish, and it’s ready to compliment your Food Tidings meal! Or when serving at home – serve immediately, or cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes to allow the flavors to intensify.
  4. Enjoy!

Source: “Easy Midwestern Cucumber Salad” by Karly at The Simple Pantry; Thanks Karly!

Create a Free Meal Schedule

Who do you know that could use help? A simple effort goes a long way!

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Crystal Van Dyke

Food Tidings 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

1
Jul

Leadership Starts at Home: Doing to Leading

How many Parents do you think see themselves as true “Leaders”? Ask a Mom and I’ll bet the answer is even less. Too often, I’m afraid the word “leader” is reserved for the office rather than home; unless it’s a game of “follow the leader”, to keep kids busy. If there is any doubt, let me clear it up for you. If you are a Parent (biological or otherwise), you are a Leader (with a capital L!). 

Parents and family figures really shouldn’t cut themselves short. From day one, we provide the framework for how our children will view leadership. From feeding patterns, sleeping schedules and so on, parents are given the opportunity to establish healthy parameters, routines, discipline habits and confidence that will set up youngsters and the family, for success. Each stage of parenthood and childhood has its own set of skills required; it’s like going from a ‘Start-up’ and growing into a ‘Corporation’, regardless of what side you’re on. To do it well, leadership is required. Just as employees would be lost without vision and management, families will be lost if they let the kids run the roost without direction. 

As with professional leaders, one of the most difficult transitions for parent leaders is the shift from doing to leading. I’ve heard this advice many times over the years and have tried to take it to heart: Don’t do something that your kids can do themselves. Mothers are often the culprits of doing everything. There are many reasons for this, and I get it. It’s easier, faster and usually done better, if you do a task yourself rather than wrangling, arguing or repeating the work your child does. But you’re not doing yourself or them any favors, if you’re always doing it for them. If your toddler is use to you doing everything for them, don’t be surprised when your teen or young adult is, too. 

“One of the most difficult transitions for leaders to make is the shift from doing to leading.”

To Be a Great Leader, You have to Delegate Well, Harvard Business Review

You may consider that doing things for your kids is an act of service or shows your love to them. While that may be true on the surface, let’s remember that our job as parents is really to prepare our children for adulthood; a productive and engaging adulthood is an even better goal. It may seem simple enough when you have one child. However, add one, two or five more kids, have your job or volunteering situation change or you may just start feeling a little (or lot) more tired – and doing everything yourself just doesn’t work anymore. Please consider, even if you can do it, should you? 

Good leaders move from doing, to teaching, to leading!
Tips for Age Appropriate Chores via YourModernFamily.com

In the end, the more you allow your child or others to help you, the more you are actually leading. By delegating chores and work you are preparing your kids for a productive, self-sufficient life that encourages them to develop their own leadership skills. Kids or employees will stand up taller, feel respected and most likely be eager for more responsibility with their newfound confidence and dignity through empowerment.

Another major component to leadership, I believe, is service. Being consistent makes you a trusted leader. Showing compassion makes you approachable. Rolling up your sleeves and pitching in or serving along side your kids or colleagues when needed, makes you relatable. Knowing a leader is willing to do anything that they ask of you is a motivator to the one being led. When you serve others, in whatever capacity, it creates a culture of giving. Giving or serving puts the attention on others, embedding a sense of greater purpose in what you are doing. All of which will develop strong teams, whether in your family or at work.

Also, don’t underestimate how you are leading by example. Helping others and having your kids see it, or better yet having them participate, is one of the best lessons you can give. By serving others and creating a sense of a greater purpose in life, you develop more empathy and an outward perspective that will help reduce selfishness and numerous related pitfalls. We tell our kids all that time that their childhood is “practice” and “experience” for what is to come: how they will get along with roommates, what kind of employee they’ll be, how they will communicate with their spouse, how they will lead their family, etc. Cast a vision for them. Be a good example, they are watching. All. The. Time.

Families that serve together, stay together and thrive!

I tend to view most things through a leadership lens, FoodTidings included. I have always considered FoodTidings much more than just a volunteer coordinating tool. It is a leadership tool. FoodTidings’ Organizers are leaders that are mastering the art of delegation; they identify a need and they address it. Serving others would quickly be overwhelming if you were trying to provide all the support or meals all by yourself. Talk about the work, time and money, oh my! It just wouldn’t happen. More tragically, it would be selfish and rob friends and family the opportunity to contribute and celebrate. Life was meant to be shared. A great leader surrounds themselves with people and resources to reach mutual goals. Tools to help us do that should be embraced; and we hope Food Tidings is a go-to resource for you.

From a new mom, a dear friend fighting cancer, a sweet neighbor who just lost their spouse, a co-worker who broke their foot, a family taking in a couple of foster children, a family who is seeking asylum from their war-torn country to a military family who’s Dad or Mom is being deployed – there are so many opportunities for someone to step up and lead the way, organizing a meal schedule or collecting funds to assist where help is needed most. It just takes someone willing to be a leader.  You can do it. You already are. FoodTidings can help. 

Be a Leader

Rally the Troops and Make a Difference

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Crystal Van Dyke

Food Tidings 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

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!

avatar

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!

avatar

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


avatar

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!

avatar

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.


avatar

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