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"Caring through Sharing" / Sweet and Sour Farmer Sausage

The question came up a while back, if we could share some recipes or ideas for bringing meals to others. Years ago, in my home church, I started a group called "Caring through Sharing", that basically meant that I co-ordinated the meals when a situation came about that someone in our church family or community was in need of meals. Either recovering from having a baby, surgery or illness, or when there was a death or crisis.
Recently I heard someone say, "please don't bring Chili or Lasagna, we have enough of that to eat for 6 months". As delicious as those meals are and very convenient to bring, there are more ideas available and we would just like to share a few with you.
We would love to hear anything that you have experienced in either giving or receiving meals that you would like to share with us that you found worked out well. Leave a comment, we would love to learn more.
When I had my babies, I was the happy recipient of some wonderful meals and I remember them fondly still. It is a good feeling to be genuinely cared for by others, and have enjoyed paying it forward. It really is a little effort that goes a long way.

First off, if the people receiving the meal are part of a larger community, then it is easier if one person is in charge of organizing meals. Then the one receiving the meal is not answering the same questions over and over again, and there are times that it is important to not overwhelm people with kindness. They may really need their space for either recovery from having a baby an illness or in a crisis situation, so having one contact person makes things easier on everyone.Always asks about likes, strong dislikes, allergies or food intolerance.

  1. If you make a meal with a sauce, always make at least 1 1/2 or double the recipe for the sauce, because it tends to be absorbed by the rice or pasta and when heating it up either later when it has been frozen or even a day or so after receiving it can be dry.
  2. Make sure that you bring meals in containers that you don't need back, that they can either recycle or reuse as they pay it forward for someone else some time. A good idea is to use foil containers for the hot dishes, zipped plastic bags for salads and veggies.
  3. Label everything with a date,what it is, ingredient list if needed and for the main dishes add instructions if you bring it frozen how to reheat and for how long. 
  4. If the person is able to go out, think about inviting them over. It might be just the thing they need to help in their recovery. I have a friend that had a serious eye surgery. She felt well, just was not able to work in the kitchen, and just loved being invited out, and a little goodie bag with left overs was sent home along with her was always appreciated.
  5. One of our commenters, Linda made a great suggestion. Have a meal with someone who is a shut in and lonely. That is such a meaningful suggestion and would mean so much to someone who eats alone. Everything tastes better shared in good company!
  6. Be creative, do as you feel led, and remember what you do for others, you really do for HIM.
  7. Keep in mind who you are bringing meals too. Often it is helpful if you are bringing meals to a family with school aged children, that you include snacks like muffins, cookies, or homemade granola bars, pizza buns, or meat buns.......all the recipes you can find on our blog. Older adults appreciate lighter meals, like soup, buns, salads, or smaller casseroles.
  8. Include a card of encouragement. It is so good to know that people actually do care.
  9. Also, I do want to share with you one very important fact. The meals do not have to always be homemade. If you have a time restraint or are not comfortable to cook something for someone else, there are wonderful meals that can be purchased either at a super market or restaurant. The whole purpose of sharing a meal is to bless someone else.

Sweet 'n sour Farmer Sausage and Rice and Lemon Basil Carrots
  • 1- double link farmer sausage, or smoked sausage
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 tablespoon sugar
  • 3 tablespoon vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 2 teaspoons dry mustard
  • salt and pepper to taste ( I don't add salt since the sausage is salty enough)
  1. Cut the sausage into coins, and brown in a bit of oil along with the onion.
  2. Add remaining ingredients and bring to boil.
  3. Lower the temperature to a simmer for a half hour.
  4. Serve with Rice or mashed potatoes.

Chicken Alfredo with Broccoli (recipe to be posted in the future)

Chicken Parmesan with spaghetti and Ceasar Salad

Soup with Buns

You get the idea, right.


  1. Another tip to share: if there has been an accidental death in the family, keep in mind that the people will not really feel like eating, even if they need to do so. Soups that go down easy are much better to bless the family with than something heavy like lasagna that will choke in their throats. Chicken noodle soup is an example that is appropriate at such a time.

  2. CinStraw...aka Cindy, CinMay 24, 2011 at 5:53 AM

    Such wonderful, caring tip we all can put to good use.
    We've all been on both sides, and will be again.
    Thank you for sharing this,

  3. Use Also try! These are great (free!) websites for coordinating meals!

  4. Let me elaborate on "A meal coordinator is able to create a customized online sign up sheet that makes it easy for friends and family to bring meals. In just a few minutes, phone numbers, driving directions, food allergies, and any other helpful details can be communicated to everyone involved."

  5. this is a little different circumstance to add to this with a twist is for people who have disabilities, illnesses or in the case of the elderly are unable to get out for fellowship and feel lonely. Arrange with them a tiem that you could make a meal and share your hospitality in their home and fellowship with them. My husband and I did this with an elderly couple in our church and it was a really appreciated by them and we all were blessed by the fellowship.

  6. As one who has been the recipient of great thoughtfulness like this through the years, I add a hearty amen. Excellent tips all.

  7. When I had surgery, we were very blessed. Grammas cooked for us, as well as the wonderful ladies in our ranching community. You can imagine the great food that came from those ladies. Afterwards, I asked my kids for their favorite meal of all. It came from a lady with a full time job; take-out pizza! Kids!

  8. This is such good advice for so many. I have received many meals when I had my children and we were building our house at the same time. Also, I have made meals for many people in crisis situations. I have also done this for myself - we had a flood in our house, so we had to rip out our existing kitchen and start over. I had a months worth of meals in our freezer while we rebuilt the kitchen. I do a mashed potatoe casserole (with cream cheese, sour cream, etc) and the schwartzies casserole freeze well. Of course there is meatloaf, and even a slice roast beef in gravy. Even chicken cordon bleu. But there is just as much blessing in giving a gift card for a pizza place.

  9. We've been the recipient of meals and we've prepared meals too- Asking likes/dislikes and allerigies/sensitivities is great advice, also the advice about who the meal is for... Unfortunately, when we received meals, many of them went to waste as they didn't work with our family, and that was simply because folks made what they wanted to make and didn't ask what might be helpful.

    I have a question about "farmer sausage" what is the grocery store equivalent in the US?

  10. These are great tips! Our church often volunteers to make meals for others and there were some good things in here I hadn't thought about.

    PS - In the US, farmer sausage is usually like smoked sausage or kielbasa that you buy in rings (I think - that's what I sub anyhow)


  11. May I use this information to share on my blog as well? You wrote it so well!

  12. Thank you to those that have commented already with your suggestions.

    Linda, great idea about sharing the meal with someone, i had forgot to add that one, and that idea is so important, thank you for the reminder. I added it into the post already.

    Amber, the websites are a good resource, thank you for mentioning them.

    Kimberly, as mentioned already, any smoked sausage will work.

    Lorrie, aren't you on the ball. I don't think that I would be that prepared renovation our kitchen. Great ideas.

    Yes, something light for someone who is grieving is probably best.....the grief doesn't just stop and it is good to remember folks long after the funeral too.

    Jolene, I don't mind if you post it one your blog and share the info there, but would appreciate a link back to this post as well.

    These comments have been so helpful to us and our readers, keep them coming...I am sure we have not thought of everything :)

  13. HI Charlotte;

    Very Good advice.I also have done the deed, and also shared the meal with them. there is nothing better, than feeling ,the"warmth, and love ,caring" when you yourself do the deed".Nothing like it at all. Thanks for Sharing this.

  14. Thank you! I have posted a link to purchasing your cookbook as well on my blog and also on my facebook. I've been silently following for awhile and saving for the book too!
    Keep up the good blog!

  15. forgot the link to show where I put the info if you need

  16. What a great post! We have a similar program in our church and I was blessed to enjoy many delicious meals from our church family. Even my husband's 90 year old Grandma came over on her scooter to bring us a jar of soup and some buns. :)
    I lost a friend to cancer last summer and brought her family meals through her illness. But I think it's also important to remember the family after the person has passed. And not just in the few weeks following. Diane was an amazing cook/baker and I know things just aren't the same without her there. So a few days before Christmas a friend and I brought them Christmas supper, with all the trimmings, just to let them know they're not forgotten.
    And I think it's important to not bring something too spicey to a new mom that may be nursing. Here's a favorite recipe of mine for just such an occasion:

  17. Another tip: A breakfast casserole can be wonderful, too....people always bring dinners, but I have found (especially in the case of a death where there can be company at the family's house) that breakfasts are really appreciated.

  18. After my dad passed away unexpectedly, our family greatly appreciated the little things that could be snacked on throughout the day---muffins, loaves, fruit and veggies, cookies...sometimes we just didn't feel like a eating a meal, but a little snack could be coaxed down.
    We also were very appreciative of the person who brought some ice cream one night--a little comfort food for our grieving souls

  19. Wonderful wonderful. I know I asked a month or so ago, but don't know if others did too.

    This is exactly what I wanted and needed. I just knew this was the place to ask. All the logistics worked out. This will make it so much easier to give, especially when for many years now, I primarily cook for one, and frequently it's a one-bowl meal, or something I hold in my hand, or can wrap up to eat after my workout, or a stir-fry.
    There *are* benefits to the empty nest! But drawbacks in that I have lost the knack of knowing how to do this family-meal cooking easily, and to know what will work and how to get it there.

    Even the pictures are helpful. You do such a good service. I hope this aspect is in the book?


  20. We received meals when our 14yo was sick. The ones we really appreciated were easy to warm up and 'normal' - meals we would have made ourselves if we had been up to it. The 'company food' dishes that we received were more rich and hard to eat when stressed.

    The other kids in the family really loved if some cookies or other treats were included in the package.

    Frozen soup in a plastic bag was GREAT! And some friends brought a large container of cut up veggies. Eating them raw lifted our spirits, and cooking some to go with other meals was so easy because they'd already been peeled and chopped.

    The most amazing part of the experience was the love and prayers that came with each dish.

  21. Thank you for this wonderful post! I have wanted to do my own "caring through casseroles" as my mother called it, but haven't been able to think of anything to take beyond lasagna or spaghetti. So appreciative of your ideas here. The soup and buns are something easily done and quite delicious as well. Thank you for your help!

  22. I've taken and received many meals through the years especially 5 pregnancies that included a good amount of bed rest--yes, I have incredible friends!

    Yes, breakfast is a great idea. I like to take homemade bread with jam and/or margarine. It is good for breakfast, but also as a snack, which is sometimes all that will get eaten.

    I try my best, when taking food, to use containers that do not have to be returned. The job of returning dishes was overwhelming for my DH when one of our children was born. I take salad in a baggie, for example, which isn't as pretty, but doesn't have to be returned. I once went to my neighbor that I was cooking for and got her casserole dish to bake in. Even if you can't do the whole meal in disposable containers, do what you can to cut back on the stack of items being returned.

    Instead of a meal that's ready to put on the table, try something that reheats, or even freezes well. When our family was smaller, we sometimes couldn't eat all the food before it went bad. Freezing/reheating directions are very helpful.

  23. GREAT post with wonderful tips!

    Just curious, were you going to post the recipe mentioned with the farmer sausage for the lemon basil carrots?

    Thanks :)

  24. the recipe for the farmer sausage is on this post, the lemon basil carrots are also on the site, just click the carrots and you will find it.

  25. I've saved the whole post, comments and all.

    Again, thank you so much. I think we all want to do these things, even if we aren't MG(who)CC, but aren't quite sure how to do it in a most organized way, and without making someone more work with what and how we've brought it. And also, as someone mentioned, we always think it won't be good enough, or fancy enough. You remind us it just needs to "be" and that is fine.


  26. Great post Char on sharing and bless others brings such joy to both the receiver and the giver.

  27. Great post Char on sharing and bless others brings such joy to both the receiver and the giver.

  28. I make lasagna in small, aluminum take-out containers from restaurants. One container holds about four servings and is easy to freeze.

    When my elderly next-door neighbor's wife was in the hospital, I just made up a plate of whatever we were having and took it over to him.

    I always laughed when I would read in novels about people taking food for an illness or a death, but then my dad got sick. We were overwhelmed with his diagnosis and treatment. It was wonderful not to have to think about shopping and cooking.

    He died in a hospital near his hometown, where he hadn't lived for over 30 years. Still, three hours after his death, people showed up at my grandmother's house with food. It was lovely.

  29. I highly recommend the websites that are out there for organizing meals. My church used this when my husband died at the age of 44 from H1N1 and it was a Godsend. Not only did it help those who wanted to help my family, it helped us because we could check it every day and know who was coming with supper that night and what they were bringing and if there was a night when no one was scheduled then we were able to know ahead of time, rather than waiting around to see if someone showed up with dinner. :)At a time like that, it's hard to think about what you need to do next and having supper plans available all in one place was very helpful.

  30. I have found that a simple salad of seasonal fresh fruits is very appreciated, no dressing is needed, just God's beautiful fruits cut into bite size pieces. This can be eaten any time of day, with or without other foods, and is nourishing as well as sweet, which seems to comfort a lot of people.

  31. Charlotte brought us this meal was delicious and looks very easy to make.

  32. I have another request. For those who don't know how, or have forgotten :) ...

    A post on the logistics of a pot-luck. How do you organize it so you don't get 11 macaroni and cheese entrees, and how much do you need, and how do you decide what the host provides and will it be fair for everyone to take leftovers, if some brought very inespensive offerings and ohter spalshed out...and how do you make everyone comfortable; lap food, or sit down? And do you play music, or or have a focal point (like the recent hockey suppers).

    Just a thought.

    Thank you.


  33. When I had my first baby, I was blessed with many delicious meals and really appreciated not having to think about cooking for a while. I soon discovered however that many of the meals I enjoyed, the baby did not. I found anything that was on the spicy side, tomato based, included vegetables from the cabbage family (including cauliflower & broccoli), all gave my newborn an upset tummy and made for some very long nights! We both however enjoyed creamy soups, creamy pasta dishes and basic meat & potato meals.

    My husband had brain surgery 6 weeks after our daughter was born and had difficulty swallowing for months after. Soup was definitely appreciated during that time, especially those that pureed well. We got a lot of buns too but those mostly went to the freezer as he was unable to eat them and I could only handle so many! After a while soup got a little old for me BUT since I could eat anything, I would make suppers for myself and save the jars of soup people brought for my husband and that worked out really well. It made the soup last longer too and gave him a little more variety.

    I guess my point is to know the situation you are bringing food for so you can bring the appropriate type.

  34. To Anonymous regarding potlucks, use the free site to get a good idea of what everyone's bringing and to try to control the meal. We use it for all our church meals.

  35. saraunger....
    thank you for reminding us to keep in mind who we are bringing the meal too and the circumstances they are true, a nursing mom should not be eating spicy chili for the sake of the baby.....and also for people unable to eat very well at all to keep it light....

    then i also would like to respond to the potluck question.
    it is a good question and perhaps in the fall sometime we will do a post a few suggestions on a variety of potluck meal ideas...

    keep the questions coming, that gives us ideas on different post ideas too :)

    i now have to check out this potluck website that was mentioned.

  36. I tried this recipe yesterday with rice. It is delicious! It's so easy to make with pantry staples. I'll try it next time with mashed potatoes.

  37. We have a new pastor who is just today moving into the parsonage. You have given me some great ideas to ease their way this week as they unpack. Thanks!

  38. This post and all the suggestions have been an answer to prayer. Thank you for all your expressions of love that walk out in practical ways to minister the love of our Savior.

    Wondering if there has been a post about throw together meals from ingredients you USUALLY have on hand. Also do you have a go-to file so you know what is good, where the dish typically fits, and what did you take to whom. You might can tell -- our church just doesn't have a handle on this important ministry. So we need all the help we can get.

    1. Linda
      Thank you for your encouraging words. I think most of our recipes are recipes we make with things we have on hand. So far we have not done a post on just that. Each person has their own preferences and therefor have different things on hand than others. We also do not keep a file on what recipe works or not. Again, each

    2. opps, some how it published without being done....sorry.
      Again each situation would be different. People have different preferences. I just believe that when you serve out of God's love what ever you make is well received. All the best as you serve in this ministry.

  39. This is such a wonderful way to help others in need. We make alot of soups for our church luncheon and pack the left overs for our seniors as they are up in age and often skip meals. This is something they can easily heat up and eat.The ladies who make the soups always make a huge pot so there is extra to give. We also collect containers and keep them in the kitchen to pack the food in. When there is a person in need we make up light meals and take them over to the person. Thankyou for this blog I am going to save this for referenceing.

  40. When will you be posting the chicken Alfredo with broccoli recipe pictured above? Looks really good, would love to try the recipe!!


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