Cooking Up Hope

Erica Hoffman found a way to serve the Lord and help others as a busy full-time working mother of three by making and freezing ready-to-cook meals. Erica began doing this herself years ago. Everyone appreciated the convenience of pre-made dinners, so she decided to make a ministry out of it. She and others meet at Faith Lutheran Church in Spicer, Minnesota, every other month to make freezer meals that the pastors can take on home visits. 

“When I went to pick up my grocery order, I was asked what I was doing with 15 chickens. I told the cashier I was a doomsday prepper,” says Hoffman with a chuckle. 

The group typically makes between 16 to 20 meals at a time that are ideal for a slow cooker or that can go from freezer to table quickly. The volunteers store the meals in the freezer at church along with directions on what dry ingredients are needed, if any. The group has prepared such meals as Italian sausage rigatoni, meatloaf, meatballs, salsa chicken, chili and beef stew, each of which serve between four to seven people. 

“Our pastors have said that the people are so grateful to receive a meal when something tragic happens—or when good things happen, like the birth of a baby—because that part of their daily life has been taken care of,” says Hoffman.

The congregants who prepare the dinners enjoy fulfilling that need, and all ages participate.

“We had a grandmother and her adult granddaughter come in to make meals together,” says Hoffman. 

When people sign up to make the meals, Hoffman assigns them to one of four groups, purposefully putting them with people they don’t know so that new friendships can be formed.

“We’ve had some neat connections be made through that fellowship,” she says. “It’s a great way to get to know people from your church that you didn’t know before.”

Christy Heitger-Ewing
Christy Heitger-Ewing

Christy Heitger-Ewing is a contributing writer for Outreach magazine. In addition, Christy pens the “Now & Then” column in Cabin Life magazine. She also writes regularly for Christian publications such as Encounter, Insight, and the Lookout. She is the author of Cabin Glory: Amusing Tales of Time Spent at the Family Retreat.