What is a Meal Wheel?

This is a re-post from two years ago. I think it is worth a read, especially if the concept of a "Meal Wheel" is new-to-you.

I'm a huge proponent or real, honest-to-goodness community. In the real sense of taking care of one another. Because we need each other. And sure, you can do it alone. But you aren't supposed to. Let's take care of each other. In the most basic of ways – with nourishment.

Have a great weekend, all.


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When Lupine was born three years ago we were strangers to nearly everyone in this town. We had lived here for just six weeks, and knew only a handful of people. And then the phone rang. It was an acquaintance/friend from before our move. A woman who had moved here less than a year before us. "Is anyone doing your meal wheel yet?" she asked.

Our what?

"Your meal wheel. I'll organize it for you," she offered. 

While we didn't really know what it was all about, we got the gist: people would be bringing us dinner every evening after our baby arrived. Never mind the fact that we really didn't know anyone here yet. That didn't seem to matter.

And it didn't.

Night after night strangers arrived at our door, carrying meals. Not just main-dish entrees. Meals. Amazing. Magical. Delicious. Meals. Baked salmon. Salads. Pasta with bacon, spinach, and cream sauce (Anne, we need that recipe!). Wine and beer. Dessert. And notes with phone numbers and welcome notes bringing us into this new community.

Seriously. We hit the jackpot with this town. They just kept coming, night after night. More than three weeks later we were ready to start cooking for ourselves and our meal wheel had run its course. It was the most amazing welcome I have ever experienced.


If we were having a baby today, most of those same people would be on our meal wheel again. Next week we are bringing a meal to a neighbor who just welcomed their new little one into their arms. And recently a meal wheel organized for an older woman in town who was navigating some health issues.

Just today I received an email from a friend-of-a-friend who participated in a meal wheel I organized a month ago and now has started one of her own to help an injured loved one.

Below is an email I recently sent out as I organized a Meal Wheel in a community where it is not a familiar concept. I made a few edits to make it more universal. Feel free to copy and paste this into your own email:


What is a Meal Wheel?
A meal wheel is a rotation of friends and family delivering a complete dinner, hot and ready to eat to a family who needs a little extra help. When a new baby comes, the Meal Wheel really allows the family to focus on the important work of getting to know their new little one, get into the nursing and napping groove, and relax. As a longtime friend of <my friend's name> I wanted to share this priceless gift with her and her growing family. It was the most valuable gift we received when or last child was born.

How it Works
Participants sign up for a specific night. You arrive with a complete, hot meal (dessert and all if you can pull it off!) at their door around 5:30, stealth into their kitchen, and leave it on the table. <This is one way to do it. Other families will not be comfortable with this and will prefer a traditional ring-the-doorbell approach.>This is not your "meet the baby" visit unless the new parents are inspired. It is really just a quick, quiet delivery and fast exit. This is their time to snuggle in and meet their new little one rather than socialize. That will come later!

Who Can Do It
Friends, neighbors, family, coworkers, colleagues, acquaintances, friends-of-friends… anyone. You get the idea (tell everyone!). Please pass this email onto others who you think would consider participating. We'd love to fill up three to four weeks of dinners for them.

Sign Up!
Please email your date preferences to me at <your email address>. I am scheduling from <enter dates here>. Please send me three date options, beginning on the early end of the schedule (IE: this week). You can also call me at <phone number>.

The Meal
Deliver your dinner between <family's preference times, ex: 5:15 and 5:30 pm> ready to eat at <address here>. Enter the house quietly and leave the meal on the kitchen table. Especially in the first few days, Mama and baby will likely be resting. Label your dishes with your name and phone number to make returns easier.

That's it! Many thanks for participating and passing this invitation along. Thanks so much!
<Your Name>


23 thoughts on “What is a Meal Wheel?

  1. KC says:

    That’s so beautiful, it warms my heart. I wish I had had this three months ago when my second was born. I really needed help then. I tried to make as much food before hand as possible but it only lasted a week. Thanks for re-sharing this.

  2. kate says:

    What an amazing gift to your family. I love that the community all gets on board with this. I had mama friends bring us meals a couple nights a week for a while, but this is really an incredible gift of community.

  3. Mousy Brown says:

    Yet again I so wish I lived there…during the year after my second son was born my husband was away for 44 weeks (during the week back at weekends) and despite living in a small village and being a member of the local church I never saw a single person. The one time I did ask a neighbour to help get some milk, they told me they were too busy…I dream of a community like yours! I am determined though that I will be the kind of neighbour that offers this help and maybe little by little that will spread…

  4. Laura Schuerwegen says:

    That’s so gorgeous… I have read about the concept before, but it wouldn’t work in Belgium. Even suggesting to my mom to cook a little extra and bring it over made her look at me strangely… So I’m trying to get things frozen, which isn’t easy since I’m over 8 months pregnant and alone with a 3,5 year old and no help whatsoever…

  5. Karla says:

    I love this idea. I could just see it, though… I usually try to organize things with my family and then I do all the work. *sigh* Maybe I need to think of a bigger wheel. 🙂

  6. Emma says:

    And a little mention for organizers- I think its always good to find out if there are any food allergies/requests for the family and pass that information on. As a meal wheel provider, I really enjoy finding out what mama has a particular hankering for OR a special food the family loves. Its so lovely to really nurture someone this way…sometimes, especially if its a stranger or someone you don’t know well. Its a great way to create community, and after being a recipient of one, here in Viroqua, (Rachel made me a killer cheesecake that I ate ALL TO MYSELF), I really love planning and preparing a special meal for someone.

  7. Rachel Wolf says:

    I agree, Emma. Thanks for adding that. And I totally forgot I made you a cheesecake. But now I do remember, simply because you ate it all yourself. And it all magically transformed into breastmilk, didnt it? xo


  8. Rachel Wolf says:

    I would bring you a meal if I could. Truly and from my heart. Mamas need community to help care for them while they care for their babes. Sending love over the many, many miles…

  9. Rachel Wolf says:

    Oh. My. Goodness. As I said to another commenter, I would totally bring you a meal if you were closer. Maybe two if you didnt have much support. Sending love, mama. Rachel

  10. lori says:

    Oh Rachel what a wonderful idea and way for you to be welcomed into the community. Last feb i had foot surgery and a moms group i belong to tried to do one of these (i was hopeful it might work) but no one signed up to help. So i was on crutches trying to get 3 meals ready a day with a one year old and 6 year old.
    Its a good idea if it works.

  11. Rachel Wolf says:

    Here too I say: I wish I could have helped. I know it would have made such a difference to have people show up and make community a priority. Sometimes I think people not jumping in is in the presentation. We dont think we need to help – but community requires commitment. Without giving of ourselves it ceases to exist. But its so worth it.

  12. Emily says:

    Meal wheels have been one of the best things about finding “my people.” In our homeschooling group we use Mealtrain.com. Super easy to set up and everyone picks a day. It’s worked really well for the past couple years. Saves one person from doing all the work of arranging.

  13. Brittanie says:

    there is a website we use called takethemameal.com and its a super easy way to have meals scheduled for families like this. We use it for the same reasons. But mainly around here its for those families with new babies!! 🙂

    I was a receipient of meals when our first child came and wow, the blessings!! I also enjoy returning the favor!

  14. Casey U says:

    Grateful to find this again and use it for an aunt coming back home to hospice. Not just for new parents, but for any loved ones in need.

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