meal train

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

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

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