REVIEW: Meal Coordination Calendars to Help a Friend

A quick review of FREE meal coordination calendar services including Meal Train, Care Calendar, MealBaby, Lotsa Helping Hands, Food Tidings, and Take Them a Meal. Find out which is best – and see the best meals-to-transport to your friend.

A quick review of meal calendars including Meal Train, Care Calendar, MealBaby, Lotsa Helping Hands, Food Tidings, and Take Them a Meal. PLUS/>> Best meals-to-transport | @TspCurry - For more easy recipes: TeaspoonOfSpice.com

REVIEW Meal Coordination Calendars to Help a Friend | @TspCurry For more easy-to-transport recipes: TeaspoonOfSpice.com

{Disclosure: None! I have not received any compensation or gifts from any of the following meal calendar services. I curiously researched and signed up for several different services to decide which was the best to help my friend – and am sharing all that research here.}

Want to really help out a new mom or a friend who is sick or recently moved? Offer to set up a meal calendar coordination service for them. This would also be a perfect gift to give an elderly friend in your knitting group, a family in need, or even if a couple of moms went together to coordinate a month of meals for a classroom teacher.

A friend of mine went through a pretty scary medical experience with her 5-year-old son; and while he is (thankfully!) on the mend, he is to stay at home and rest his very busy body for the next couple months. She will have her hands full.

REVIEW Meal Coordination Calendars to Help a Friend | Teaspoonofspice.com

So I explored setting up a meal calendar service for her and her family so that my friend could receive meals (and even services and donations) from willing friends and co-workers….on a schedule that was convenient for her. Here’s my review of some of the most popular calendar services available:

Meal TrainFREE – Optional additional services $10

Easy sign-up takes only a few minutes and is outlined in a short 1-minute video. Straight-forward meal specifications include: The family’s favorite meals, dislikes, allergies/intolerances, and meal delivery time. Registration is required for giving a meal, but it’s a good idea since this is the way to receive reminders so you don’t forget the meal you’ve signed up to bring.  You can also choose to have your meal-bringing-date added to your own Google calendar. I liked the ‘journal’ function that sends updates on how my friend and her son are doing to other helpers. Meal Train will also coordinate accepting monetary gifts to help with medical expenses, restaurant delivery, grocery expenses; the service is free, but a commission is taken from donations to fund this service. The meals-only service is free. For scheduling rides, child care, and other services, the organizer pays a $10 fee. This is the service that was best for the meal-only needs of my friend and it’s the easiest calendar to read.

Take Them a Meal – FREE

The main benefit of this site is it requires no registration. For friends who may not want to provide or keep track of registration info to another website, this is the best option. It still provides a functional calendar showing meals scheduled by friends. However, names and phone numbers are visible to all helpers. The ‘Tested Recipes that Will Transport Well‘ is a helpful feature for those needing recipe ideas.

MealBaby – FREE

Another great site for providing meals only, Meal Baby has bonus features: 1) Seamlessly send restaurant and grocery store gift cards instead of a meal. 2) MealBaby also links with MealGifts to provide chef-prepared meals (from $53+) if helpers can’t provide a meal or don’t live near the recipient. However, MealBaby did not have as many helpful prompts to fill in likes/dislikes, allergy info as some of the other service sites. This calendar also has less detailed info.

Food Tidings – FREE

A fun video outlines ways to provide meals to friends, from home-prepared meals to chef-prepared meals or even gourmet gifts like homemade granola bars ($24.) Meal providers who don’t live close or don’t wish to spring for an entire chef-prepared meal ($55+) can sign up to give e-Tidings in amounts as little as $10; these will then be applied toward the recipient’s choice meal/treat at the end of the schedule. The calendar scheduler is easy to use – although I prefer seeing all scheduled meals on an actual calendar instead of listed. Other care services like childcare are not on the calendar.

Lotsa Helping HandsFREE – All services are FREE

This is very well-designed site and my favorite for scheduling a variety of services such as driving a friend to the doctor, helping with childcare, picking up needed items, and scheduling meals. It’s easy to customize the calendar for exact service needed because the ‘coordinator’ (or recipient) writes descriptions and can even attach documents or photos. There is even a map function so multiple locations can be shown. For simple meal service, I found this site had too many bells and whistles for what I needed. Also, meal scheduling services are experts in prompting to add info on food allergies, likes/dislikes; with Lotsa Helping Hands, someone would need to think about adding this important info.

CareCalendar – FREE – All services are FREE

For a bare-bones, easy to use calendar this is perfect. Care Calendar makes it easy to schedule appointment rides, special events, meals or other services. Phone and email will be hidden from other helpers. Hovering over calendar entries provides detailed info for events such as likes/dislikes for meals or addresses for rides to the doctor. Status updates and photos can be shared through a bulletin board. For elderly friends who may get lost in a fancy site, this is simple.

All of the above services included links which can be shared with interested givers through Facebook and email.  

REVIEW Meal Coordination Calendars to Help a Friend | @TspCurry 3 INGREDIENT SCONES | For more holiday recipes: TeaspoonOfSpice.com

RESULTS: My friend has really appreciated being able to plan a little of her family’s unpredictable life. She is thankful to know when their next meal is coming – and how to plan her freezer space accordingly. She has been able to navigate Meal Train easily.  REVIEW: Meal Coordination Calendar Services for a Friend + easy-to-transport meal ideas via @TspCurry Click To Tweet

Now, here are my three favorite easy-to-make meals that transport well: 

Mini Turkey Pizza Meatloaves + Homemade Chocolate Mint Pudding Mix

Roasted Sweet Potato Soup + 3-Ingredient Scones

4-ingredient Slow Cooker Chili with all the fixings + 4-Ingredient Brownie Banana Bread via Regan @Healthy Aperture

REVIEW Meal Coordination Calendars to Help a Friend | @TspCurry For more easy to transport recipes: TeaspoonOfSpice.com

Please let me know if you have tried out any of these services before! What did you think?

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