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5 ways you can serve others with food this holiday season

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Christmas is the perfect time of year to look outside yourself and serve your neighbor.  If you’re looking for a unique way to warm your friend’s and family’s hearts this Christmas season check out the 5 ways you can serve others with food this holiday season. 

Looking for a unique gift this season? Try one of these 5 ways to serve others with food and give the gift of a peaceful meal

Hi all, welcome back to the podcast. 

I’m excited to chat with you this week about serving others with food this holiday season. 

I decided on this episode as I thought about the Christmas season.  Like we talked about last week many of us DESIRE more peace and family togetherness at Christmas time.  If you are religious you probably desire to feel a greater closeness to God during this time as well, but that can be so challenging with the hustle and bustle of the season. 

This is something that has been talked about time and time again (I mean, it’s essentially the theme of the done and re-done holiday classic “how the Grinch stole Christmas” but it seems like it can be really hard to feel the peace we desire while also getting all of the holiday things we need to done. 

Hopefully last week you were able to think about and maybe even set some boundaries that will allow YOU to feel more peace and family togetherness this holiday, but how can you help your friends and loved ones do the same? 

We often spend a long time thinking about the perfect gift to get those we love for Christmas.  Wouldn’t it be great to give them a gift that might help them feel a little more peace this holiday, especially in a year when so much is uncertain? I think so! 

Before we move on let’s go ahead and outline this episode of the podcast on how to serve others with food. 

Inside this episode of the planned, prepped, & productive podcast we’ll discuss: 

First we’ll discuss science-backed ways why you might want to add serving others to our to-do list more often, especially during the holiday (in case you are thinking that you’d love to help out but you are way too overwhelmed to even think about it!)

Next we’ll discuss why food is a great way to show love. 

Last we’ll dig into the 5 unique ways you can serve others with food this holiday season.  

Why is serving others important? 

The reason we are talking about service today is because service is like the ultimate act of self-care. 

If you’re feeling stressed, depressed, anxious, angry, down, whatever the emotion getting outside of yourself and serving someone else is basically guaranteed to make you feel a little bit better. 

You don’t have to take my word for it. 

Study after study has shown that serving others is *actually* a great way to help yourself. 

…and because I am trying to help you get successful in the kitchen with some other forms of self care, meal planning and meal prep, it’s really important that we find all of the ways to make self-care a habit. Serving others is a great way. 

Studies have shown that:

  • Volunteering can lower incidences of depression
  • Spending money on others can increase happiness
  • The even show that doing something altruistic (like donating money to charity) activates the same parts of the brain that receive pleasure from receiving money

I think the spirit of giving is always a little stronger at this season and you’re probably not looking for or needing a reason to serve, but this information was just super fascinating to me, and I thought it might motivate you to find a way to serve those you love instead of feeling the need to purchase another present.  It’ll help you both! 

Why serve with food at Christmas

I’m sure I could find some great studies about food and love, but I’m feeling studied-out this episode so we’re going to go for personal experience instead. 

About 7 years ago I was pregnant for the first time with twins.  About halfway through the pregnancy I ended up in the hospital in very early labor and we ended up delivering the twins at only 20 weeks. 

It was obviously a very dark time, but the cool thing about trying times is that people show up! My faith in humanity and the feelings of love and support from friends and family were so strong during that time! 

The thing about going through something devastating (and also very public because one day I was pregnant, the next day I wasn’t and I didn’t have any babies to show for it) is that it’s really easy to serve and show love at that time. 

But what about the smaller struggles.  Don’t you wish someone showed up for you not just in the devastating times, but maybe on that day that you’ve cleaned up 3 blow-outs from your baby?  Or maybe it would be nice to have someone help you out on those crazy days your husband doesn’t get off until late. 

I love giving gifts that can REALLY help someone out…and food can truly be that thing!

I’m not talking about dropping off cookies or toffee or any of the other traditional holiday treats.  Those things are great too, of course, but I’m talking about taking the stress out of grocery shopping, meal planning, or cooking for just a day or two over the holidays to help someone feel a little more peace (even if it’s just for one night!)

I hope that you will feel motivated to try one of these things this holiday. 

In fact, as we go through these 5 ways you can serve others with food this holiday I want you to stop.  If you’re multi-tasking come back to me.  Grab out  your planner, and as you listen plan out how you can do one of these things in the next week before Christmas comes. 

If you do it, tag me on social media (@callmebettyblog) or email me to share your experience amanda@callmebetty.com I think you’ll love the feeling you get and be surprised by the response you get!

5 ways to serve others with food this holiday season

Donate to your local food pantry

If you’re looking for the easiest of easy ways to serve with food this holiday season, look no further than your local food pantry. 

I think all of us have probably put some cans in a food drive bag for some local boy scouts to pick up, but maybe take it a step further.  Maybe you can add some high-demand items to your grocery list and donate those (contact your local food pantry to find out what things they have the biggest need for). 

This service is especially needed this year with Covid-19 raging, unemployment rates higher than normal, and many families unexpectedly struggling through the pandemic. According to Feeding America 4 in 5 food banks across the US are serving more people this year than they did a year ago.  With the demand so much higher than before a donation this year can make a huge impact. 

You can also check with your food pantry to see if they accept cash donations.  Many food pantries can do more with cash than food donations so that might be an even easier way to give the gift of food to those in need this season. 

You also can check to see if your food pantry is accepting volunteers as many food banks lost a lot of manpower with social distancing and COVID-19. 

Make and gift freezer meals

Freezer meals can be a serious gift some nights, especially during the holidays. 

I know for us our evenings fill up with Christmas activities, and especially when you have young ones who have to be in bed early in can be challenging to get a meal on the table and the kids in bed at a reasonable hour all while fitting in all of the fun Christmas traditions! 

A freezer meal can be the perfect answer because it requires literally no prep and you can even do some at-home activities while they back in the oven if you want.  It’s the perfect gift for the busy mom on your list (trust me!)

This list of meals from the Happy Money Saver blog is a great place to look for meals you can make.

My favorite meals to freezer are meals like casseroles/lasagnas/baked pastas/& soups.  I love anything where the entire meal is mixed into one dish so it’s truly easy to reheat and enjoy.  It will also be easier to gift if you only need one container. 

If you don’t have time for some extra freezer cooking this busy holiday, don’t fret. 

You can totally buy freezer meals to relieve stress as well!  When I’m buying freezer meals I love to shop at trader joes! They have a great variety, and their ingredient lists are minimal. The things I’ve tried have always been  yummy (I especially love their fried rice!)

Give a box meal delivery service gift card

If you really want to make someone’s day, try gifting them a box meal delivery service gift card.  

There are loads of boxed meal services out there, and after I tried hellofresh this year I am a believer in these services for the craziest times in our lives when we need a little help getting our footing (ahem, like the holidays!)

Some popular services are hellofresh, blue apron, dinnerly, homechef, martha marley and spoon, and so many others! Most of them offer several different meal options suitable for vegetarians or even other special diets.  

Get your friends a gift card for a free week of meals that they can use whenever they feel like they need it!

Par-bake bread or rolls and deliver them to friends and family

Is there anything more comforting than homemade bread?  It can be hard to give the gift of freshly baked bread because it is so much tastier right when it comes out of the oven, right? 

Well if you’ve listened to the podcast for awhile you’ll know that I’m a huge fan of parbaking bread so it can be frozen and taste super fresh when you need it.  I’ve got an episode on parbaking that you can check out here to learn exactly how you can deliver partially baked breads with instructions for finishing it and enjoying the comfort of warm bread straight from the oven on your friend’s timetable instead of yours. 

Deliver soups in a jar

Freezer meals are great, but they can be a little more challenging to deliver.  Here in Utah I could probably leave it on their porch and it would stay frozen until march, but generally you’re going to want to make sure your friends are home and have a little extra freezer space to give this gift. 

If you still want to give them the gift of an easy meal, but don’t want the hassle of figuring out the freezer this idea is for you. 

Soups in a jar! 

The link above is from wholefully and they share 6 different soups in a jar that are totally shelf stable so your friends can keep them on hand for a busy night without worrying about keeping them safe.  Talk about a win-win! 

Alright, I hope you are inspired to serve others with food else this holiday. 

In fact, I challenge you to get out that planner and write down one person or family you can serve with one of these methods and DO IT! You’ve got exactly a week, and I promise that the more service you fit in this holiday season the better you’ll feel. 

Because the next two fridays are Christmas Day and New Year’s Day there will be no new podcasts for the next two weeks.  Planned, Prepped, and Productive will return on January 8 with an episode on meal planning in the winter. 

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