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Past posts: what to bring to families in medical crises--new baby, two very young boys

Not long ago I read about good ideas of what to bring over to a family in crises. It included ideas that others don't usually think of. I wasn't able to find past posts. In this case, a new baby came, and mother had a stroke. Both sets of grandparents are available. A support group asks for food, baby needs, home care needs, cash, gift certificates to restaurant, etc.

I'm inclined to give items that would pick up the slack from what others don't think of.

I'd appreciate suggestions for links from past posts, and any new ideas. I expect the needs will go on for a few months. The Dad is a friend of our daughter, and was in my husband's business until a few years ago.

It would be helpful if those who've had experience in dealing with this crises, would offer some suggestions.


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  1. In terms of meals, stews, stir fries, pasta sauce, mac and cheese are all ideal as they can be frozen and then reheated.

    You're a great friend. I hope for the best for this family.

    1. A delivery of diapers, wipes, etc. would probably be greatly appreciated in a few week's time.

      Call and offer a grocery run for them.

      Gift certificate for a house cleaning service.

      Breakfasts are often difficult and forgotten, esp with other kids. Perhaps French Toast Casseroles or Stratas or Frittatas or Homemade freezable waffles, granola, etc.

      Some sort of CSA basket, that delivers fresh fruit for snacking.

      Another tip, give in disposable containers, like aluminum, so they can just toss and recycle.

      1. I think that this might have been one of the threads that you were looking for:

        If it were me, I'd kick in with some of the support group's suggestions - and then, after some time has passed (couple of weeks, maybe), offer to do a "non-consumables" run for the family, for things like bathroom tissue, napkins, paper towels, kleenex, shampoo and conditioner, deodorant, tooth brushes and paste, mouthwash, disposable razors and shaving creme/gels, soap (hand, dishwasher, dish, bar soap for bathroom), laundry detergent and dryer sheets, garbage bags, vacuum cleaner bags, maybe some cleaning staples (window cleaner, a spray bleach, etc.), plastic wrap and aluminum foil. For most of these things, though, you'd probably need to ask the family (or someone who's in and out of their home) about preferences, if there are any.

        Also, think about providing shelf-stable things - sodas, coffee (with filters), tea bags, juices, granola bars/cereal bars, crackers.

        I agree about the house-cleaning service (or volunteering with someone else to go in after a week or two and do a thorough cleaning). Another option would be to volunteer to pick-up and wash/fold laundry and then return it - include the linens and towels, etc.

        If they live in a house with a yard, and don't have a yard service, I'd think about maybe hiring someone to come in a mow/trim as needed.

        Maybe cash with a couple of menu's from local places that deliver? Grocery store gift certificates, too.

        In terms of food, you want stuff that's easy to prepare/heat, probably more comforting rather than exotic - casseroles, salads, fresh fruit. Also breakfast foods are wonderful - and bagels, sandwich makings (with condiments), cheeses and crackers, frozen (or freezeable) foods, etc. Be sure to label everything with preparation instructions/basic ingredients (in case there's any allergies or other concerns) and use disposable pans and tubs.

        If it's at all possible, I'd ask one of the grandparents about what they need - they may be overloaded with casseroles and want pizza, or maybe someone has a dairy allergy and can't eat the foods that have been donated, etc. But ask what you can do for them and make suggestions (like the cleaning, yard care, shopping for the non-consumables, etc.) - they may be so overwhelmed that they can't think about what they need but grateful for the suggestions.

        Good luck to the family and thank you for reaching out to them.

        1. If the children are old enough to feed themselves: a variety of cubed cheese, sausage like meat, veggies& fruit (fresh or dried) packed in mini ziplocks so it is very easy to give them a snack or light meal. The adults may use it too - often you need something but my be too stresses to eat a sandwich or a meal. My thoughts are with them & wish for a speedy recovery.

          1. Hi Everyone. Please keep your suggestions food-related. Thanks!

            1. I would make several meals that can be frozen and reheated in the oven or microwave. Also, a grocery store run would be nice -- if you don't have time to go yourself anf deliver them, find one of the stores that offer online ordering and delivery. I would even offer to babysit the young boys, or offer to take them out one day so the parents and grandparents can get a break from the toddlers.

              1. I'm sure that they'll get lots of lasagna, casseroles and stuff like that -- since you said that you're looking to pick up the slack from what others don't think of, I would bring over things like fresh vegetable plates (carrot sticks, celery sticks, pepper slices, broccoli, etc all in individual baggies) along with some dipping sauce, so that they have something fresh to nibble on. Baskets of fruit would also be nice, and I agree with the breakfast suggestion. Maybe some home baked muffins, all in baggies of four or so to a bag so that they can just go in the freezer and be defrosted when needed?

                1 Reply
                1. re: JasmineG

                  I agree with jasmine. If you're going to cut up the veggies and fruit yourself, try to blot them as dry as possible before bagging so that it doesn't get soggy or spoiled after just a day or two.

                  Mixed greens, throughly washed and dried, might be nice. Make sure to indicate that foods you prepare like this are clearly marked READY TO EAT.

                  Individual meat loaves are cute and easy to make. I saw a nice recipe for this in Rachael Ray's magazine, of all places. They were baked in a disposable cupcake pan.

                  If you're going to make something frozen for later reheating, I suggest getting the aluminum pan lid along with the pan. Many 99cent stores have this, as well as large supermarkets. Write what the item is, as well as the heating directions and the date on the lid with a Sharpie.

                2. the gift certificate for housecleaning is a genius idea.

                  when I was growing up and we went through a similar medical crisis, I still remember the great casseroles and dinners people brought -- every night for months.

                  Taking the kids out for an all-day Saturday or Sunday outing is very helpful. As is keeping an eye on clothes they need because right now the mom can't.

                  I'll keep them in my prayers.

                  1. oops - just noticed you said food related only.......
                    homemade foods - and with little kids mac and cheese, spaghetti (not necessarily with sauce so keep that on the side and maybe have some butter and a mild cheese on the side too), fried chicken and mashed potatoes, if you have a Costco near you they have some great prepared foods that go in the freezer.......from my similar experience as a child I was SO impressed when someone made us mac casserole with ground beef in it - that was foreign to me and I thought it was the best. Good luck.

                    1. Thanks everyone for all the great suggestions. They will be very helpful to me, including the website you found, ElsieDee.