Friday, January 20, 2012

The Take-Over Dinner

One thing that the Dunbar’s have been great recipients of over the years have been Take-Over Dinners. You know, we have a baby and all of our friends rally together a schedule and coordinate dinners for our family. In our case it has been each time we’ve had a baby, but it can be for anything really, the loss of a loved one, a hard time at work or loss of work, a family whose time is being stretched tight. I’ve made dinner for several of my friends who are working moms, just to give them the “night off.”

There are several guidelines I like to follow when sending a Take Over Dinner.

1. Do they have any food allergies? Or foods that they just don’t eat? Avoid those foods.

2. When packing up the dinner try to include all of the plastic and paperware fortheir dinner. Eating and then having nothing to clean up is bliss! One thing I’ve learned, when you’re trying to give the mom the “night off” creating a whole bunch of dishes for her doesn’t really help.

3. When making dinner for a family who is going to be receiving dinner for a week or more, just try to include dinner for that night. Making too much takes over their fridge and counters and for people like me, ends up causing stress.

4. When packaging the food, put it in the disposable plasticware or baggies. (All you greenies don’t come banging down my door, I only use these containers for take over dinners… and Mr. Dunbar’s lunches, in which he always brings them home.) If you can avoid it, don’t take dinner in your favorite casserole dish or glass containers. One, the giving family will probably miss it and two, who knows when it will be returned.

5. A rule of thumb for me is whatever I serve someone else, it has to be something my own family loves. And I always make the same thing for my family that night for dinner.  If I wouldn’t give it to my own kids, I’m not going to give it to someone else’s. One time I made chop suey for a family, I didn't think their kids would eat it, so I included mac and cheese too.

6. Okay, my last point, if you run out of time, picking up a pizza and a premade salad is still okay. When our last guy came and I wasn’t getting more than 2 hours of sleep, anything to put on the table for dinner was fine by me.  I appreciated any and all of the help. A few months ago I was signed up for dinner for some of our best friends, their meal schedule was all fancy-schmancy on a website and I had entered that I was bringing ‘tacos.’ But when push came to shove tacos just weren’t happening on my assigned night. So I swung by Tios Tacos and brought those. (I still owe you real ones B!)


This past week I was able to take dinner to a friend who has just had a baby. When I made my meal plan the week before it was supposed to be warm, so between that and that I knew two others had brought over pasta I figured Chicken Salad Sandwiches sounded good. Looking back, I should have mixed that salad for her. But I thought, if they had leftovers from a previous dinner, this would still pack away for a good lunch the following day. There are no dishes that need to be returned and the bag is hers to keep if she’ll use it. If not, I told her to put everyone else's dishes in it. IMG_7539

Not the fanciest of meals, but something hopefully they enjoyed. My family sure did. I went to go take a picture of it so I could include the recipe and it was GONE. But I’ll still include the recipe.

Chicken Salad Sandwiches

4 cups shredded or diced chicken

2/3 to one cup light mayo

1 whole apple diced

4 stalks of celery chopped

2 carrots shredded

1/2 cup pecans

Mix everything up and add salt and pepper to taste. I also like to add curry, lots of it, but not for new moms.

Spread on toasted bread and enjoy.


Do you take meals to people? What are your go to meals?


Lori: Teacher Turned Mommy said...

that chicken salad sounds good. I haven't brought lots of meals for people, and actually no one brought them to me with either baby... hmm I need better friends (o:

Amber said...

Everytime we go to MV mall I get a chicken salad sammie from Paradise Cafe. The remind me of you and Ryen...kinda silly huh!!

Megan said...

This is such a good reminder to serve others. I once got a pot of taco soup at my door and I still remember how good that felt to feel so loved and cared for. And great idea on the disposable containers...nothing worse than trying to get stuff back to people!

The Frat Pack + Me said...

what a great idea!

jen@odbt said...

I love chicken salad. It's been awhile since I've had to make a baby meal...seems like no one's drinking the water these days :) I avoid lasagna b/c it seems to be everyone else's go to dish...although I make an awesome lasagna soup. I usually bring chicken enchiladas with spanish rice, green salad and brownies or another fave - white chicken chili, corn bread, green salad and brownies. Gotta have the brownies!

patty said...

Hello mrs Dunbar! I hope u & ur beautiful family are well! Sheesh... I barely get dinner served for us, much less to others! On the occasions that I did, I did make what we liked, too & served in containers that wouldn't have to be returned. I try to make yummy & healthy if I can & usually include fruit. I know it's appreciated when a famil is under stress & I bet ur working friend did, too. Good to see u again-love ur blog's new look!
patty at

Nicolle said...

Great post, and I love the idea of taking all of the fixings for chicken salad sandwiches. Fun and cute in the TJs bag too. :)

We got a meal recently when Kevin had surgery, and it was so nice, so delicious, and just made us smile. I usually do something hot, put it in a disposable foil container, wrap with foil and write heating instructions on top. I like to make spaghetti casserole or chicken noodle casserole.....

Have a great weekend.

the nest featherer said...

great tips! i think, once you become a mother, the gift of a dinner is simply the best present anyone could give!

the other thing i try to do is promise not to visit when i drop off the meal. if needed, i will walk the food into the kitchen and put stuff in the fridge (for my close friends) but then i walk right back out. the stress of having to "entertain" during those times isn't necessary :)

Mrs. C... said...

I said it once, and I will again and again.....I loved the tacos - they WERE NOT your tacos, but still they were yummy. I loved the visit because it was you and you were real.....and that conversation still needs to be finished :) I also loved the coffee date! I think I am going to try and be better about just blessing others with dinners because I know it would bless them....they don't need to have a baby or surgery! You are tops on my list! Tell Monkey - playdate included :)