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Hello friends! As we close up #NTKtakethemamealMarch, I just want to say thank you so much for all the love this month. This topic is so dear to me. I truly believe food is one of the most tangible ways to love someone. You are meeting a basic need that every single person has!
I want today’s newsletter to start super practical and end with some encouragement sent in by you all. I have learned that taking a meal to someone is very stressful for many, and my hope today is to reduce that stress. Let’s start by making two things clear:
  1. You do not have to take someone food to show them you love them. After Alberta was born, I had one friend offer to take my girls to and from preschool every single day for the entire semester. That meant the world to me! Think: is there something else you could do? Maybe mow their lawn as you do your own? Do a school pickup for their child if your own kids attend their school as well? Offer to grab an elderly neighbor's mail for them? Food does not have to be your thing and it’s totally ok if it’s not.
  2. You do not have to take someone an entire meal, or even dinner for that matter. Food encompasses everything from snacks to drinks to treats, and I think some of the encouragement at the end will allow you to see that it's often the most simple gestures that mean the most to people.
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Dropping a chocolate bar with a ribbon around it is an easy way to love on a friend. 
  1. REPEAT IT: If you’ve got one meal you love and feel confident making, make it for everyone! No one will care (or even know) if you make it twice. In my opinion, the best meal to give someone is the meal they didn’t have to cook themselves. I am not kidding, if someone brought me the same chicken casserole every single month for a year, I would be thankful. You could also have 2-3 seasonal meals you enjoy making that you simply rotate. This takes the decision making out of it and can feel easier because you’re making something you have made before.
  2. YOU DO YOU! Maybe you love to bake. Instead of signing up for dinner, bake some muffins and provide fresh fruit. That could be an easy breakfast for the week. If the family has kids, you could provide some pre-made PB&Js, sliced fruit, and a treat. Maybe you just show up with iced coffee and a bag of snacks for their kids. People eat 3 meals a day, you do not have to make them an elaborate dinner.
  3. GIFT CARDS COUNT. There is nothing wrong with a gift card! This is a wonderful way to love someone far away or in a medically fragile situation where visitors are difficult. The point is you let them know you care; they feel seen and loved. Plus, your gift cards will lighten the financial load.
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Were you supposed to meet a friend for coffee but she's stuck at home with a sick child? 
Consider dropping a coffee and card on her porch; it's sure to brighten her day. 
STEP 1: Check their meal train or text them to make sure there’s no food allergies.
If they do not have a meal train, I text them asking if the specific day I would like to bring them food works for them. NOTE: I DO say “Hey! If you are ok with it, I would love to bring dinner this week. Would it work for me to drop dinner by Tuesday or Thursday around 5:30? Let me know if one of those two work for you!” I DO NOT say: “Would you like me to bring you dinner?” The former question denotes you want to bring them dinner and just need the time that works best; the latter question sounds like you are asking if they need you to bring them a meal. The difference is subtle, but that latter question can lead to someone declining your offer because they feel like a burden. Also note: I use the phrase “drop dinner by” on purpose. Unless it’s a super close friend who I think would welcome a friendly face, I do not want to assume they want visitors. If they do, they can invite me in. But I want them to know I plan on dropping it by, not coming in for a long visit. 
STEP 2: Decide what to bring.
Check and see if you already have any meals in your freezer you can take to someone. I often take meals that are from the freezer since I batch cook certain casseroles and soups. You can ask if they prefer the meal frozen (if you’ve already got it in the freezer) or defrosted and ready for them to cook or reheat. Defrost accordingly.
If not taking something from the freezer, see if there’s a meal you’re already cooking for your own family you could simply double.
STEP 3: I think through the meal the same way I would for my own family.
  1. What pairs well with the main dish? Does it even need a side?
  2. How many mouths am I feeding?
  3. Is there an easy bagged salad I could pair with this?
  4. What are the ages of the kids? Should I add some cut up fruit to make the meal easier for everyone to enjoy?
STEP 4:  Lastly, make a list of everything to take.
Include every component so you do not forget!I cannot tell you how many times I would have forgotten the salad in the fridge or the lime were it not for the list.
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You didn’t think I would do a whole newsletter and not provide a recipe you could take?! This recipe was inspired by my friend Katie (yes, the same Katie of Kate’s Chicken Noodle Soup!) who brought us the most delicious orzo after we had Alberta. What I remember is that it tasted super fresh, I ate the leftovers for days, and it was unlike any other meal we had been given.
Greek Lemon Chicken Orzo Casserole
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  • 16 oz. orzo pasta
  • 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 8 oz bag of fresh spinach, chopped
  • 8 oz feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano leaves (or 2 teaspoons dried)
  • 1 1/2 cup chicken or veggie broth
  • 1 lb. chicken breast cooked and shredded
  • 3 teaspoon Greek seasoning (I like Cavenders)
  • 1/4 cup sliced green onion (white and green parts)
  • 1/3 cup capers drained 
  • 2 or more teaspoons lemon zest
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 tsp Salt (add more to taste)
  • 1 tsp pepper (add more to taste)
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  2. Cook and drain pasta as directed on package. Once drained, set aside in a bowl and pour olive oil on top and mix to prevent clumping
  3. In a large bowl mix tomatoes, spinach, 1/2 of the crumbled feta cheese, oregano, lemon zest and juice, capers, Greek seasoning, chicken, green onion, salt and pepper, and broth
  4. Stir in the pasta and season with more salt and pepper if needed
  5. Pour mixture into your casserole dish and top with remaining feta cheese
  6. Bake covered in foil for 30 minutes and uncovered 15 minutes
WHAT TO PAIR WITH IT: It already has some many wonderful veggies in it! I would pair with a super simple green salad if you wanted more veggies, or a simple fruit salad. If they have kids, this could be hard for a picky eater. In that case I would pack dinner rolls, cheese sticks if I had them, and a side of fruit for sure. 
I want to end with four of the many, many comments left on a recent Instagram post (you can read them all here). A common ending to so many was “She didn’t ask ‘what can I do?’…She just did it.”I hope that these warm your heart and remind you that at the end of the day what you are doing is showing someone that they are seen and loved. That matters far more than what you bring.
Emily.c.holland wrote: When I was on bed rest, pregnant with twins with a 2 and 4 year old at home my husbands co- worker dropped off fresh fruit, a gallon of milk and all sorts of pantry/fridge essentials. She said “I’m not good at cooking but I can at least do this!”
Nursekatie87 wrote: After one of our failed adoptions I had no appetite and a friend brought me a tin of her favorite fancy tea bags. Every time I brewed a cup I remembered I was not alone and to this day that is my favorite tea. I cannot drink it without thinking about the way the Lord carried us through his people❤️
Mizbingham wrote: Supplies! When my brother-in-law died, a friend dropped off an entire package of paper plates, napkins, and a box of plastic forks. She also brought packaged snacks and other things that could be used for weeks. I think she brought perishable food as well that I'm sure we consumed. But her thoughtfulness to bring those other kitchen supplies was so meaningful. When a close family member dies, you're just in a complete fog and you can't think. I think she may have also brought laundry detergent? It was just so thoughtful!
Elizabethoconnell2 wrote: Years ago when my father was very sick, hospice was called in. I was on my way to South Carolina because he didn’t have much time and right as I was about to leave a very dear friend brought over a bag with healthy snacks, tissues, and magazines. She knew there would be some long days sitting by his side, and thought that this would be comforting. This is one of the nicest things that anyone has ever done during the darkest time of my life. I felt so loved in that moment, and during that time when I would reach into the bag to find some sustenance. ❤️
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Live far away? You could sent a prime/instacart order with their favorite snacks, fruit, or iced coffee. Imagine opening the door to treats you didn't have to think for or order! 
Alright friends, thank you so much for allowing me into your inbox again this month. It is such a gift to get to write to you here that I do not take for granted.
Have a lovely April,
P.S - If you've missing the “What I read, watched, listened to” that used to live on The Nap Times, you should subscribe to The Power Nap. It's a short form email with all of that and more that we send out multiple times a month. Sign up below!