MealBaby: Making it Easier to Share Meals

It's officially fall, which means cold and flu season has begun. Do you have any friends stuck at home with a cold? How about any friends with a new baby, or friends who have just moved? Would you like to organize a week or two of meals for them? We've often participated in meal registries for friends in need, penciling our names in on lists at work or church, responding to last minute phone calls from a harried organizer.

Enter MealBaby, a new online service that promises to make organizing meals for those in need just a little easier.

MealBaby is a free online service that lets you set up a meal calendar for yourself or someone else, and send it out to a group of people. It leads you through creating a calendar, specifying the days that the recipient would prefer to have meals. Then it gives you a chance to fill in food likes and dislikes, allergies, and preferred portion sizes.

One rather brilliant aspect of this service is it allows those far away to participate as well. If they can't bring a meal for reasons of distance, time, or inclination, they can also purchase a gift card to a restaurant (and, we hope, a grocery store) for the recipient. This lets busy friends or distant Grandpa and Grandma help feed a couple with a new baby, or their daughter sick at home a thousand miles away.

Then you can send out invitations to as many people as you would like. They can view the calendar online and sign up to bring meals. When a friend signs up for a meal, it's registered on the calendar, and they get a reminder email the day before they are scheduled to cook.

We like how all of this works - it's well designed and simple. It's also geared towards helping others. The creators (full disclosure: friends of ours) say that, "We believe that community is important. We believe that new moms and dads, or people recovering from surgery, or just people in general need support and care in their times of need. We believe that providing a home-cooked meal is a very meaningful way to say to a friend in need that you are a friend indeed and that they are not alone in this life."

We agree! We love how this service also encourages anyone viewing your registry to donate to Feed the Children.

This is a simple service, and you could hack something similar with Google Calendars or E-Vite or something similar. But this works so precisely and perfectly for the function it was designed for - why would you try to recreate it? Take a meal to someone in need this fall - it will definitely be appreciated. (And for ideas on what to cook, check out this post.)

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Related: On Cooking For a New Mom and Dad