What are the best meals to bring new parents? Think easy, tasty, filling, and healthy. Sounds simple enough, yet for a long time I struggled when it came to making a perfect meal.
Fortunately our family has been on the receiving end of many incredible meal deliveries, and over time I’ve observed what works and what doesn’t.
We received our first set of meals when Anna was born two years ago and I remember thinking the whole operation was an absolute miracle. People show up on the door with food just when we needed it most? Life changing. Then, when Jonathan went through cancer treatments we received meals again for MONTHS, and I promise I might have turned into a crazy woman without the help. Most recently, after Owen’s birth, we received meals for a third time. People, the novelty of a meal at my door had not worn off.
If you’ve taken on the task of blessing a family with food delivery, YOU ARE WONDERFUL.
And for those of you who are stressed about what to bring, let me help!
First, three general tips for a successful meal:
1. Regardless of what you make, try to make lots of it. One of the best parts about a delicious meal is when it goes far enough to make lunch the next day. (I am terrible at following this advice!)
2. It’s always nice to receive an easily freezable meal. When a church or friend group sets up meals, there may be nights when the family has enough leftovers to last a few days. If you bring a meal that can easily be frozen then a family can stretch your generosity even further because they don’t have to eat your food on a specific day.
3. Try to deliver meals in disposable containers. I didn’t realize how important this was until beautiful dishes started piling up in our house because I couldn’t find time to return them. Dollar stores are a great place to stock up on plastic wear, or you can even buy $1 metal pans for casseroles, quiches and pies. If you deliver the meal in your own dishes, call the recipient a few days later and ask them to leave the dishes on their porch so you can pick them up.
7 no fail new mom menu ideas:
1. Roasted Chicken. This is a really safe meal choice because it works for most dietary restrictions, feeds a lot of people, and can be repurposed as leftovers. I recommend adding veggies, and for winter meal deliveries include a comforting side of garlic mashed potatoes and/or cornbread. (Cheater option: for those of you who want to bring a homemade meal but don’t have a lot of time, pick up a roasted chicken or two from Costco, then add your own home cooked side dishes.)
2. Teriyaki Chicken with Rice and Broccoli. This dish is another favorite because it’s quick to make, high in protein, great for those with gluten or lactose sensitivities, and convenient to package for delivery. I recommend making your own teriyaki sauce, but pre-made works well too. If you’re not a broccoli fan substitute with snap peas or bok choy. Pressed for time? Costco sells a large frozen bag of brown rice and quinoa, which is easily heated in the microwave.
3. Kat’s Chipotle Bowls. This dish is (admittedly) a bit more labor intensive, but you can’t go wrong with Mexican food. Pick a meat of choice, then add cilantro rice and black beans as sides. Throw in tortillas, a baggie of cheese, green onions, salsa, guacamole and sour cream. Tada- burrito bowls! If you’re looking for an easy way tot transport this meal purchase a large metal disposable pan, then fill paper bowls with the items and place them inside the pan. Deliver with a few Coronas.
4. Frozen Lasagna or Enchiladas. Most people love comfort food, and lasagna or enchiladas are crowd favorites because they’re delicious, filling and easy to transport. Neither of these dishes are great for those with lactose sensitivities, but both items can be made into healthier versions…think spinach lasagna and butternut squash enchiladas.
5. Quinoa Mac & Cheese or Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese. Both of these recipes are favorites because they’re healthy comfort food. To me, healthy comfort food is one of the best ways to bless a hungry new mom because she won’t feel guilty having a second serving at 2:00am. Plus, both items are (as I’ve mentioned before) easy to transport! I’d recommend throwing in a salad too.
6. Quiche. I could spend thirty minutes discussing all the reasons I love quiche but the main takeaway is: quiche comes together with whatever you have in your fridge. I rarely use meat (no need!) but always add a spoonful of Costco’s pesto. This is a budget friendly dinner item, and especially fast if you use pre-made frozen crust. My very favorite thing about quiche is how versatile it can be. Deliver it with scones and a salad mix, that way a family can eat it for dinner, breakfast or both. Speaking of breakfast…
7. A Ziploc Bag of Frozen Waffles or Granola. After Owen was born a friend delivered us breakfast. How unique, right? If you’re not a quiche person, consider making 12 waffles, then freeze and deliver in Ziploc bags. Or granola is another yummy and filling treat for new moms.
Meals that can be done, but with caution:
Soups, chili and casseroles are popular choices in the winter, and salad can be overdone in the summer. Before cooking one of these options you might want to ask the recipient if they’ve been “casseroled out.” Also, husbands (mine) tend to like heartier options. If you bring soup make sure you also add a side salad or bread, and if you bring salad it’s nice to have a protein element as part of the meal. (A great read: Casserole Recipes Worth Giving a Second Chance)
Ways to spice up a so-so meal or really show the love:
Make your own salad dressing. I know, I know….this sounds like too much work. But honestly, making a simple vinaigrette in a mason jar takes less than 5 minutes but is much better than packaged options. We found that a lot of people deliver salad mixes, and receiving homemade dressing helps take a grocery store bag of from drab to fab.
Include a bottle of wine or a six-pack of beer. Many new moms appreciate a special drink after 9 months without, and beer can sometimes help milk production! If my meal hasn’t turned out the way I hoped, I throw in a bottle of wine and hope it will make up for my kitchen mistakes.
Tuck in a carton of Oregon’s Chai or a bottle of sparkling lemonade. I liked having drinks on hand because I was always thirsty from breastfeeding! Plus it was nice to have options I could offer the myriad of people who stopped by to visit baby.
Fresh berries from the Farmer’s Market. Because who doesn’t love fresh berries?
Unique chocolate bar or bouquet of flowers.
My last piece of advice? This may sound harsh but hear me out…
When delivering your meal, don’t plan to stay and visit with the family unless you’re a good friend. If you’re delivering to a first time mom they’re often napping at odd times, or they have breast milk dripping down their old, stained pajama shirt. (Throat clears: I speak for myself.) The most helpful thing for me was when someone said, “I’m dropping off your meal at the door between 5pm and 6pm. I’ll text you when it’s there.” This way I could invite them to come inside, or I could simply thank them and not have to plan my nap or the baby’s feeding around their meal delivery.
I’d love to hear about the best meal you ever received as a new parent, or share with us your own tips for meal deliveries!