In the past 3 months, I've been amidst a great baby boom. Not my own, of course (heaven help me!). But, rather, many of my friends have made the great transition to being parents. I love getting to visit these new first-time parents, snuggling new little babies (that I can give back when I am finished) and bringing these families a respite in the form of a meal.
When Chica was born, I didn't realize bringing new parents meals was a thing. I was among the first of my friends to have a baby, so I was new to the game. But all the people in my life who had gone on the Parenting Journey before me knew what was up and came prepared to hold a baby and provide me a meal. I loved it. I was so overwhelmed by embarking on this new life that I could barely remember my name let alone throwing together dinner. I appreciated that having meals on hand (in the fridge and the freezer) took one burden off of my shoulders so I could focus on my new little one.
Now that I'm several years into this parenting thing, I know the drill when my friends head to the hospital ready to give birth. I go to the grocery store, grab necessary ingredients, and prep a meal (or three) for them.
Some important things to consider when preparing a meal for a new family:
Make it Fridge AND Freezer FriendlySometimes new parents get (happily) inundated with meals. So it's helpful if the meals received can be thrown in a freezer. Otherwise, we leave the bewildered new parents with the task of scarfing 3 meals in the course of 24 hours. Making sure a meal is freezer-friendly allows for the option to eat immediately or freeze for later use.
Keep it SimpleThis is especially important for moms who are breastfeeding. Many of us know the frustration of gobbling up a delicious meal only to find that it does not agree with your baby a few hours later. When preparing a meal for new moms, consider leaving out common gas-inducing foods, such as cruciferous vegetables (like broccoli), beans, garlic or overly spicy foods. Basic, simple recipes are often the safest bet for new moms and babies alike!
Check Ahead for Allergies or AversionsThere is nothing worse than giving a meal to someone only to find they cannot eat it! Check with the family first to see if there are any food allergies to avoid (peanuts, milk, etc) or aversions that would keep them from enjoying your meal. Some moms are quickly put on elimination diets when breastfeeding to address feeding issues, so make sure they are still able to eat lactose (milk, cheese, etc).
Think Outside the BoxI also try to shake things up when bringing a meal. An easy go-to recipe for bringing a meal is baked ziti (my recipe is listed below!). WHICH I LOVE. But when everyone opts to bring it for you, you'll be eating ziti for days. Even an Italian girl like me has her limits! Thinking outside the box and looking for new and exciting freezer meals to bring can help break any meal monotony a new family may be experiencing.
Create a ScheduleIf you are close enough with the new parents, offer to make a meal schedule for them. Websites like Take Them A Meal help you create an online calendar that people can sign up for. It even allows all the volunteers to see what others are bringing so there aren't any doubles. Create them a calendar then send it to their friends and family to sign up with!
Accounting for the above, here are 10 fantastic meals you can bring to a new family (also great for anyone who is dealing with illness or grief). All of these have been tested by me and/or my Freezer Meal Club:
Pepper Steak | Six Cents
Baked Ziti | Confessions of a Stay-at-Home Mom
Pizza Casserole | How I Pinch a Penny
Homemade Chicken Soup with Dumplings | Pandora's Deals
Cheeseburger Casserole | Skinnytaste
Sweet & Savory Apple Pie Pork Chops | Confessions of a SAHM
Lasagna Roll Ups | Cooking Classy
Chicken Parmesan Casserole | Thriving Home
Crockpot Brown Sugar Balsamic Glazed Pork | Laura's Sweet Spot
Slow Cooker Beef and Barley Stew | Happy Money Saver
I'd love to hear what your favorite meals are to bring to new parents! Leave a comment and tell me all about it!
(And a special thanks for all of the bloggers for permission to use their fantastic links!)