It’s the polite, simply generous thing to do, to cook a meal and offer it to your neighbours when they’ve just moved in next door, or you’ve been longtime friends who happen to be going through a tough time. Oftentimes, when the family’s mourning a death, or they’ve just welcomed new life into the world, cooking is the last thing on their minds. So that’s where meal trains come in.
A meal train, according to mealtrain.com, is “organised meal giving around a significant life event”. Sometimes, people go the extra mile and provide more than just meals, offering to babysit, do the school run, or simply stay and chat. Every little bit helps – and heaven knows we could all use a little help every now and then.
So when Twitter user, @JJFromTheBronx (JJ), shared a meal train request from a new dad that he called “the most ridiculous thing ever” we were rather curious as to why he was so upset. That is, until we read the entire thread. Brace yourselves.
The week I got a thing in my mailbox to join a social network @Nextdoor. People in my neighborhood can alert each other about crime and stuff like that. Great idea! But today someone posted the most ridiculous thing ever (1/?)— JJ (@JJFromTheBronx) April 18, 2019
He copied and pasted the meal request he had seen: “My wife and I are having a baby. I'm starting a meal train because it is our first and neither of us have a clue what we’re doing.”
The request continues, “As the father-to-be, I’m teetering on a fence of emotions. On one side is joy and excitement, of course. But on the other side, is a great deal of fear! One of the things I'm most afraid of is not getting a great deal of sleep and as a result not being in the best frame of mind to offer my wife the support she needs to recover from the child-birthing process.”
Okay, understandable and kind of you to not think about yourself but your wife... I think?
“That’s why I'm putting together this “Meal-train”or “Mental-health check-in Train”or “Do you need any help today train.” A meal would be awesome. If you feel comfortable reaching out before you arrive to see if we might need anything else – that'd be even more awesome.”
Okay, this all seems fine.
But then they also included meal and snack suggestions.
Trying not to be negative, I figured maybe it's like "if you make a lasagna and make too much, we would accept it". That would be very reasonable inside a totally unreasonable ask. BUT THERE WERE 30+ SPECIFIC MEALS WITH RECIPES pic.twitter.com/BkE2kBuhyJ— JJ (@JJFromTheBronx) April 18, 2019
“Dry-roasted salted almonds”, “sharp/aged cheddar cheese” and “Dark chocolate”, specified as 70% only.
“Homemade granola”, “Banana oat bars”and “greek yogurt”, again, they were so kind to even specify the exact brand, thank you very much.
Did we mention, with links to recipes you can prepare for mealtimes?
“Polenta casserole squares” for breakfast, “spiced lentil, sweet potato, and kale whole wheat pockets” for lunch” and “squash and carrot stew with quinoa” for dinner.
Shall we feed you with a golden spoon too, good sir?
And then, just when we thought it couldn’t get any worse...
This guy then tops it all off be telling us we can sign up for a day to text, and if they decide they would rather not see people, WE CAN COOK THEM A MEAL AND LEAVE IT FOR THEM IN A COOLER HIS WILL PROVIDE IN THE YARD BECAUSE HE COULDN'T BE BOTHERED ANSWERING THE DOOR pic.twitter.com/FXtNRgVa8Z— JJ (@JJFromTheBronx) April 18, 2019
Under special instructions you’ll find the following: ““Meal train” is loose. We're looking for a “check-in train” to have people check-in on us to see if we need or want anything as we acclimate to the new routine. That might mean a meal or some snack staples, yes, or it may mean stopping by and walking the dog, or doing some dishes, or simply bringing your smile and some conversation.
“Text me on your day and I can let you know what we need. If we could use some food but prefer no distractions, I'll put a big white cooler in our side yard.”
MANS WON’T EVEN COME TO THE FRONT DOOR AND PERSONALLY ACCEPT HIS DRY-ROASTED SALTED ALMONDS?
Call me a Spicy Martini ‘cause I, am, shook.
Also read: Are baby advice books making mothers depressed and anxious?
We’re all for the idea of a meal train, even a “check-in train” as our friend suggested, but we’re of the mind that if someone offers you something out of the goodness of their heart, you graciously accept and say a big “Thank you”. You don’t ask if you can add fries to that.
I mean, entitled much?
So let’s talk meal train etiquette.
Meal train etiquette
- take advantage of someone’s kindness by asking them to do tasks you know you can.
- ask for expensive meals and snacks that may be way out of someone else’s budget.
- have crazy expectations for meals at all.
- ask for meals that you can freeze, in case you can’t eat them right away.
- be there and or have someone else be there to accept the food on your behalf.
- specify if you’ve got kids. Not every meal is kid-friendly and easy to dish up.
- let them know if you’ve got any religious dietary specifications such as kosher or halaal foods.
- specify any allergies, so the neighbours don’t include any dairy, shelfish or... dry-roasted salted almonds.
Giving or receiving, have you been part of a meal train before? Have you gotten any ridiculous requests? Are there any dos or don'ts we should have included? Tell us and we could include them in our story.
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