12 Months of Meals: A Practice in Generosity

1.11.2017



In January 2016, I set a goal to take a meal to one person or family every month for the entire year. I had never had someone bring a meal to me until after I had R in August 2015, and I realized how wonderful it was to know that someone was going to come to my house and drop off food for my family that I didn't have to prepare or clean up after. 

I was thinking about it and realized that people really only bring meals after a loss or a baby or a major surgery, but no one ever offers to bring a meal for no reason other than it just being a busy Thursday. But life can be busy and hard even without a major life event, and I thought about how nice it would be if someone would do something like that for me. So I decided to make it a goal to do that for 12 people last year.

I wasn't sure if I wanted to share about this on the blog, because I realize that writing about it can sound very self-serving and a "look at how nice I am" kind of thing. Please understand that is not at all the point. However, working on this goal throughout 2016 was really inspiring for me and opened my eyes to ways in which I can be more generous to the people around me in a small but meaningful way, and I wanted to share with you what I learned and how the process went in case you want to try something like this yourself this year!

Choosing Someone to Bring a Meal To


As I said before, the entire point of this was to bring a meal to someone outside of the usual reasons (loss, baby, surgery); however, two friends did have a baby last year and we brought them a meal, so I counted that toward my meal for the month. In all the other cases, Jordan and I talked specifically about who we thought might be most blessed by a meal that month. (Also note: I always got takeout of some kind. I never brought a homemade meal! I'm sure I could have gotten ambitious, but takeout seemed perfectly fine and would have been fine with me had the situation been reversed and someone was bringing me a meal.)


We did not plan out our 12 meals in advance but simply took it month by month. One month I brought a meal to some friends who had recently moved. Moving is stressful, and you don't always have all your pots and pans and dishes available, so we thought having someone drop off dinner would be helpful. Another month we brought a meal to some friends who had had a sick baby for a couple of days. One month I was so busy it skipped my mind to bring someone a meal, so on the last day of November I paid for the person in the drive-through behind me at Chick-fil-A. One month we brought dinner to a family we knew was just really busy that week.

Setting it Up 

Obviously it wouldn't work to just show up randomly with dinner. Who knows if they already had plans or would even be home?

Once we decided who we wanted to bring a meal to, I contacted them on a weekend either through text or a Facebook message (if it wasn't someone I was super close with) and said something like, "Jordan and I set a goal to bring a meal to someone every month this year. We wanted to bring a meal to you guys this week. What day would work best for you?" This seemed to work out well because once people knew that this was a personal goal we had set and they were they people we were choosing that month, they didn't feel as weird accepting our offer and didn't brush it off like "Oh that's nice but we're okay thanks." I wasn't asking if we could bring a meal over. I was telling them that I was going to bring a meal. 

And instead of setting an arbitrary date three weeks into the future, I asked them specifically what day next week worked best. Then I asked what food they would like and just to text or message me their order. That also worked well because it was an immediate contact and response, so neither of us would forget.

What I Learned

You wouldn't think making time to set up one meal a month would be hard, but it was actually a struggle sometimes to either remember to pick someone and contact them or find the time to actually get a meal and bring it over. It got easier as the year went on, and it was honestly so much fun to be able to bless people in this way. Picking up takeout and driving it over to someone's house did cost me some money and a little bit of time, but doing it once only made me want to do it again and again. Doing the 12 months of meals was an easy way to practice a spirit of generosity with our money. It helped me to remember that my money was given to me by God and it's not mine to hold onto. 

Doing this also helped us to be more aware of the needs of our friends and those around us. Because we were intentionally looking for someone who would be especially blessed by a random meal, we were more aware of just how busy and hectic people's lives are. Every time we would offer to bring a meal, it surprised me how much people have going on and how helpful a meal really would be. 

I picked up two take-and-bake pizzas for a couple friend of ours who have a 2-year-old. My friend works long shifts as a nurse in the ER, and the night I brought food over she had to stay especially late. She texted me later to thank me for bringing pizza and said how awesome it was to have dinner to just stick in the oven when she got home so she could spend that time before bed with her daughter. As a working mom myself, I was like I CAN RELATE AMEN SISTER. So you can imagine that made me happy.

Looking Forward to 2017

We have decided to continue our 12 months of meals in 2017. It really has blessed me to be able to serve others in this small way, and it has opened my eyes a bit to the needs of those around me in a way I wouldn't have if I hadn't been looking for it. This was mainly my idea, and I'm usually the one contacting people and setting up the meal dropoff, but Jordan is 100% on board, and I love that we talk together to decide who to give a meal to. It makes it feel like a service we are doing together as a couple. I like too that as R gets older she can be part of it. 

I really do hope that this post doesn't come across as just me waxing on about how generous we are. I'm just really excited about being able to complete our meal goal last year and wanted to share what I learned. And I thought that maybe this might inspire you to drop off a random meal with a friend this year! 

Try it. It's really fun :)

29 comments:

  1. What a great idea! I was just thinking yesterday about ways to use the money God has given us in godly ways... this one is great!

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  2. Actually I'm really glad you posted about this! There have been a few times I've noticed some friends' lives seem especially hectic and I'm like, "I wish I could help them in some way, like cook them dinner," (because I'm a hufflepuff), but then I never go through with it because I don't know how to make it not weird. So thanks for being the example!

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  3. I get why you might be reluctant to write about your good deeds, but I'm so glad you did!!! I so want to do this ❤️❤️❤️ Thanks for the wonderful idea!

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  4. Officially making this a goal. This is such a tangible way to love people!

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  5. I love love love love this! A couple years ago when our word of the year was "generous" we brought a fair amount of meals. I've slacked off because I don't feel like I have the time to make them- your idea of take out is both genius and freeing. Also, I love that you choose to do it "just because" because you're right- no one ever does that. I think this may be something we do in 2017, thanks for the great idea!

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  6. This is such an awesome idea, and I'm totally stealing it! It's such a great way to help out someone without making it seem like too much. :)

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  7. I LOVE this idea! Thank you so much for sharing. I love to do kind things for other and never thought of this. I actually think coming up with who should get the meal would be hard!

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  8. Amanda, this is awesome! I know what you mean about not wanting to share stuff like this because it can come across as "oh look at me being so generous and awesome" but I am SO glad you did share because otherwise I never would have thought of this! We take so many meals to people because our church is so big and there are a lot of people our age there. So lots of babies being born. And then lots of surgeries, sickness, and loss as well. But what a sweet idea to bring over meals just because. There are definitely busy days and stressful weeks and times outside of major life changes. I love how intentional this makes you. It's such a sweet way to bless other people. Thanks for sharing!

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  9. I love this. We had dinner made by our neighbors after our daughter was born and it was so nice to not have to think about it. Recently a friend of mine had to put her beloved dog down. They live a few streets away so I made a lasagna that they could bake when they felt like it and added a bag salad, cookies, and a bottle of wine (to celebrate Scout). I know how hard it would have been to muster up the energy to think about dinner that night, and they were really appreciative.

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  10. I love this idea, this post, and especially the part about simply telling them you're bringing them a meal and not letting them have the out of saying, "Oh, we're fine." Because they WILL! Most humans are awful about accepting anything from anybody.

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  11. So nice! I always do this for my friends who have babies, but I need to do it more!

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  12. This is awesome! I remember when my Grandma died five years back and we had a lot of family staying with us for a couple of weeks (we had 18 people in our little house at one point!). Our friends, neighbors, relatives, and church family had us covered for every dinner. It's something I think about a lot. It's cool that you were able to be a blessing to people that way. :)

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  13. I love that you shared this, and I especially love that you shared exactly how you did it and what you learned. Military families tend to do this a lot for each other but I don't see people doing it as often in the civilian world. I try to do it when someone has a baby or is moving or if their husband is deployed, but why not just do it for no reason? Everyone is busy. Everyone could use a break. The day the movers came to pack us out of our first apartment in Hawaii, my friend brought us sandwiches and cookies from my favorite bakery. That night, our next door neighbors invited us over for dinner. That day just meant the world to me. I will never forget it. I love that you are doing this for no reason other than to make someone's day. You reminded me that I have been meaning to do this for my friend whose husband is deployed but I just haven't found a good time. No more excuses!

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  14. Thanks for sharing this!! So cool. My church does a meal train for moms who have just given birth (or families who adopt), but you have such a good point-what about all the other people out there? I'm definitely going to think more about this and if my husband and I are at a place where we could do this (or something similar).

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  15. That's so fun and I'm sure it does bless those around you that you get to drop off a meal for. Practicing generosity does a lot of good for everyone involved! I'm glad you got to do this this year.

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  16. I love this! What a great way to bless the people in your life and YES to the way you set it up (not giving them an option - "I am doing this; what day should I do it?" - to shrug it off). I'm definitely inspired to pay more attention to the people around me and listen for cues that they could use a delivered dinner - even if it's not something like a surgery, baby, etc. Thanks for sharing this idea. :)

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  17. This is a really great idea! What a blessing bringing a meal can be to people, the ones giving and the ones receiving :)

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  18. I love this so much! My cousin is due with TWINS in May, and she already has a son who just turned 2 on November, so I plan to make a bunch of meals for her family this spring!

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  19. I love this idea. I would love to do something like this one day when we can financially handle it a little better. A friend of mine ordered me a pizza one evening when I was having a really horrible week, and it just made me feel so loved that I've been wanting to do something like that for someone else.

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  20. What an awesome way to give! I love everything about this!

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  21. Love this! When my mom had premature surprise twins twelve years ago, our wonderful church ladies provided our family of ten with homemade meals nearly every evening for a month. It was a huge, huge blessing - and one that we still talk about to this day. Thank you for inspiring me to give and encourage more this year!

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  22. This is a really great idea, Amanda! What a wonderful thing for the people you contact each month! This would be a really simple but meaningful gesture. I love this!

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  23. I love that you used take out for this monthly goal. Time is so precious and this way makes it very doable for me. Had never thought of this approach before.

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  24. I just love this, and your heart! Isn't it so cool to bless other people like that for no other reason than to make their day? :) way to go, girl!

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  25. This is awesome! A great sort of project--at various times Angel and I have set goals for hosting people over dinner at our house--in China our goal was to have people at our house for a meal once every two weeks. But we've never done so much of the make a meal and take it over, other than for people with new babies. I'm realizing that a large portion of our friends are single and that's probably why I haven't even come across all that many opportunities to bring meals after new babies....last time we did was for my aunt and uncle after my cousin was born 3 years ago. ha!
    This is a really good project, and for families with kids, I can really see how it would make life easier on them than asking them to drop by for a meal with you.

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  26. I am SO GLAD that you shared this! I've been looking for a regular way that I can serve in my community, and this is totally something that's right up my alley. I often will take in meals when the sign-up sheet comes around at our church for people in need (like you said, after a baby or loss or so forth), but I really like setting the goal of doing it once a month. Thanks for writing this, Amanda!

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  27. You are SO thoughtful! What a wonderful idea!!

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  28. I love this! What a wonderful idea! Now I need to know other options you used besides pizza :)

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  29. I LOVE this idea!! I just might copy....

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