Before I had my son, I never truly understood how amazing it is for someone to bring you a meal. I like to cook, so it always seemed like the best way for me to help a friend with a new baby (since I knew next to nothing about babies). But whoa, did I underestimate this gesture. One less meal to cook is a huge deal for new parents, whether it’s their first baby or fourth. When you’re exhausted, having food arrive at your door from a friendly face is a life saver.
Over the past couple years I feel like I’ve become a bit of a self proclaimed meal train expert. I bring meals to friends at least twice per month, there are even weeks where I bring a meal to more than one family. It’s a big undertaking but I’m here to share a few of my best tips/rules for bringing food and a few of my favorite meals to put together.
Basics for bringing food
- Ask in advance if you can bring them a meal. Text/email/call – just ask! Never show up unannounced at the house of a new parent (food or not).
- Ask about allergies, food preferences, and what time they’d like the meal dropped off. Most new parents aren’t picky but food allergies aren’t something to mess around with.
- Offer to set up a Meal Train for them to share on Facebook or send to family/friends. My Moms group uses Meal Train religiously. It is a great way to encourage others to bring food to the new parents and keeps it all organized so there’s no overlap of days/meals. Bonus: It’s free!
- Use disposable pans/containers. Do not drop off a casserole in your glass pyrex dish. The last thing they want to do is wash dishes and worry about getting it back to you. The dollar store is where I get all my stuff – simple and cheap!
- Include a note and/or label your food. I like to leave a little personal note card with the food congratulating them and also detailing what I included in their meal. I also like washi tape and get a little crazy with the labels – not necessary but fun for me.
- Drop off the food and leave. I know this one is going to make me very unpopular, but in my opinion it’s the best thing you can do for a new parent. It is dinner time and they probably want to eat and/or feed their other children, thus not really the best time to sit and socialize with you. If you’d like to spend some time cuddling that new baby of theirs, ask them when a good time is to return to see the baby – trust me, they will thank you for this!
- Make double the amount of meal you are bringing. Take one to the new parents and keep one at home for your family. This is a huge life saver for me, since I usually get home from dropping off a meal right at dinner time for my family so I can just reheat and serve!
- Consider bringing something besides dinner. Things like muffins, banana bread, fresh fruit/veggies, ingredients to make a quick sandwich, granola bars – or really anything they can eat with one hand. When I had my first baby, I had a friend bring things like this and it was life changing! I could eat while feeding my newborn.
Here are a few of my favorite meals to bring new parents. I like to make sure it’s a full meal with all the fixings so they can just unpack and enjoy! I’ve also linked to where you can find my favorite recipes for some of these dishes.
- Shredded Salsa Chicken + Beans ( I like to do seasoned black beans) + Cilantro Lime Rice
- Extras to include: Tortillas or taco shells, taco toppings (I include chopped lettuce, diced tomato, shredded cheese, limes, cilantro & sour cream), salsa and a bag of tortilla chips
- Baked Ziti (Or other baked pasta dish like lasagna) + Garden Salad + Rolls
- Extras to include: Veggies/croutons to top the salad and salad dressing
- Pulled BBQ Chicken + Steamed Veggies + Mac & Cheese
- Extras to include: Buns, extra BBQ sauce and toppings for sandwiches (Coleslaw & pickles are my go-to)
- Chili + Garden Salad + Cornbread Muffins *Chili is a good one to make vegetarian!
- Extras to include: Chili toppings (shredded cheese, diced green onions or cilantro, sour cream), veggies/croutons to top the salad and salad dressing
- Chicken Enchiladas + Mexican Rice + Steamed Veggies
- Extras to include: enchilada toppings (green onions, cilantro & sour cream), salsa and a bag of tortilla chips
- Soup + Garden Salad + Bread/rolls
- There are so many options for soups, here a few of my favs: Broccoli Cheese Soup, Loaded Baked Potato Soup, Chicken Pot Pie Soup, Chicken Tortilla Soup
- Extras to include: toppings for soup (depends on your soup, but things like grated parmesan cheese or other cheese, fresh cilantro, parsley or basil), etc.), veggies/croutons to top the salad and salad dressing.