The gift of a meal wheel


I recently organized a meal wheel for a faraway friend in need. A difficult birth and some time in the hospital, she really needed some love. 

A "meal wheel" is simply a succession of friends and neighbors bringing meals to a family in need. It took me only five minutes to set up online, then I shared it with her family and friends.

Within a couple of days she had 2 1/2 weeks worth of meals lined up to ease their transition. 

What a small, simple gift to provide for a new family that can change so much. 


When Lupine was born we were strangers to nearly everyone in our small town.

We had lived here for just six weeks, and knew only a handful of people. And then the phone rang. It was the one acquaintance we knew here 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. Like baked salmon. Fresh salads. Pasta with bacon, spinach, and cream sauce. Kombucha, wine and beer. Dessert. And cards with phone numbers and welcome notes drawing us into this new community.

They just kept coming, night after night. For nearly a month.

Three and a half 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 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!
To sign up for to bring a meal, simply visit this website and add your name to the calendar! [There are some wonderful websites that make organizing a meal wheel simple as can be. I use Meal Train.]

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>


2 thoughts on “The gift of a meal wheel

  1. Pamela R says:

    I have to say that, for me, real meals in times when facing other challenges is the greatest of gifts. I’ve happily made meals for people I barely knew and then, when it was my turn, accepted amazing food, lovingly made from people that barely knew me, but added a jar of fresh flowers, a couple of homemade chocolates and, my favorite, an amazing salad served in a handcrafted pottery bowl. All of these little touches made my family feel so loved.

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