'COOKING FOR OTHERS' IS MY LOVE LANGUAGE

When I was a kid, you couldn't get me in the kitchen. My mom and grandmother made dinner every night but I wanted nothing to do with the stove. I'd rather eat a bowl of cereal than try to make mac-n-cheese.

When I was single, I lived on microwave steam vegetables and canned soup. I was livin' the life. But, then, I got married... I knew I had to step up my game. I started with boxed dinners and eventually moved up to recipes. Now, I seldom look at recipes - I just cook. Heck, I don't even set timers. I can smell when the food is done. Weird, I know! And my favorite thing to do is to cook for other people.

About a month ago, I noticed my friend Ashley, who is the marketing director at Albion Fellows Bacon Center, posted that the shelter was in need of homecooked meals for the residents. My buddy, Bobby G., wrote an article about Albion's meal train sign-ups. And then when our market president LaDonne saw the post, she made the comment that our office should coordinate a meal. I couldn't raise my hand fast enough. Yes, yours truly volunteered to not only head up the meal but also cook and deliver it.

ASHLEY S
ASHLEY S
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THE PLANNING

I went to work planning... I made a list of my favorite crowd-pleasers: BBQ pork and baked mac-n-cheese, baked ziti, tacos... my mind was racing.

One of the things my daughter loves is breakfast for dinner. When my husband has to go out of town, it's our go-to meal. He is gluten intolerant so we break out the waffles and pancakes and glutton ourselves with gluten. One of the things Ashley told me was that there are always children at the shelter so I decided to go with a brunch theme because, well, it's just fun! And going through some of the emotional turmoil that the residents face, they need a little fun in their lives!

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THE EXECUTION

The day before our scheduled drop-off date, I did a big Walmart order. I didn't want all this food taking up room in my fridge for several days so the pick-up option was easy, fast, and convenient.

Since I was cooking for 20+ people, casseroles were the easiest thing to do. I decided to do five of them - yes way too much - but I wanted there to be plenty of leftovers. And, there were even enough donations from co-workers to be able to purchase some breakfast pantry staples for the shelter.

I decided to do five different casseroles so everyone would be happy. I made basic cinnamon roll casserole, loaded cinnamon roll casserole (walnuts, raisins, and BACON - yummmm), sausage hashbrown casserole, ham & veggie hashbrown casserole, and biscuits 'n gravy casserole. My daughter and I did most of the prep work the night before and I baked them all the morning of. Thankfully, I have a job that is flexible enough that I could work at home while they were baking on Tuesday morning! If you don't have a flexible job, you can sign up for a Saturday delivery.

When it was all done, I picked up a couple of my co-workers, and off we went to deliver.

THE RESULTS

While we were there we got to see some of the residents loading up plates. My hope is that our food was so good that they forgot all about their problems - even for just a minute. We also got the name The Brunch Ladies during our visit. OH MY GOSH, I LOVE IT. I can't wait to do another meal and yeah, I'm totally getting shirts made.

Only REAL homemade gravy for these ladies! ASHLEY S
Only REAL homemade gravy for these ladies! ASHLEY S
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THE CHALLENGE

Now am I telling you this so that I can toot my own horn and say LOOK WHAT I DID? No! I'm telling you this because (selfishly) it was an incredibly fulfilling act of service that I want YOU to have too! And it made it all a lot less daunting and a little more fun to have help from my co-workers. I am officially challenging businesses and offices all over the Evansville area to pool donations or do a donation potluck and provide a meal for a local shelter!

EVANSVILLE AREA OFFICES AND BUSINESSES - POOL YOUR RESOURCES AND PROVIDE A COMFORTING MEAL TO THOSE IN NEED

There are two places in the Evansville area that accept meal train food donations that I know. If you know another place, email me right here and I'll add it to the list.

SIGN UP TO PROVIDE A MEAL TO ALBION FELLOWS BACON CENTER

SIGN UP TO PROVIDE A MEAL TO RONALD MCDONALD HOUSE

ASHLEY S
ASHLEY S
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BUT WHAT IF YOU DON'T HAVE TIME OR DESIRE TO MAKE A MEAL?

Now, maybe you are like, hey - I'm no cooker. No one in my office has the time and energy to make a bunch of casseroles. That's okay! There are a lot of restaurants that will make a large family-style meal for your shelter of choice.

Here are some ideas:

And if providing a fresh meal just isn't in your future - and I get it, totally okay - there is a place inside the meal train sign-up page to buy gift cards! How easy is that? Or you can always organize a snack drive in your office. Here are some places you can donate snack items to:

I'd love to see both shelter's meal train pages filled through Christmas! If you get your office on board, send us YOUR pics at evansville.dme@townsquaremedia.com and we'll give you plenty of shout-outs to inspire others to do the same!

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