Contributor: Jane Maynard When it comes to taking dinners to families with new babies, ALL food is ALWAYS welcome. You could drop off a bag of potato chips and onion dip for dinner and I guarantee those sleep-deprived parents of a newborn will be happy! That said, there are small things you can do to make the meals you deliver to new parents extra wonderful and useful. Over the years, as people have brought meals to our family after we have had babies, I have picked up some great ideas and tips about what makes a delivered dinner really great. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you plan meals for the loved ones in your life who have just had a baby!
Deliver the food in containers that the family does not need to return. When I had my first baby, almost all of the meals we received were in dishes that needed to be returned. It took months for me to get it all back to the right people, and I even broke someone’s bowl because it had been sitting in the cabinet so long! When I had my 3rd baby, almost everyone who brought meals brought the food in disposable containers, and in the cases where they used real dishes, those friends returned a few days later to collect the dishes themselves. It was such a blessing not having to worry about keeping track of dishes. Be sure to check if nursing moms are on a restricted diet. There are many nursing mothers who have to cut out specific foods when nursing, most commonly dairy. Be sure to check in and see if this applies. There’s nothing worse than being a nursing mom and not being able to eat the delicious food in front of you. Comfort foods that aren’t too rich are a good option. Chicken soup is a great food to bring – no dairy, not spicy, but still utterly delicious. Click here for a simple yet wonderful recipe for Chicken Soup with Rice. And click here for Chicken Noodle Soup.
Photo credit - This Week for Dinner & Iowa Girl Eats
Bring large helpings so the family has leftovers. If one free meal is good, two free meals are better! Okay, you don’t have to bring two whole meals, but erring on the side of too much food is always better. Leftovers are a blessing in those early weeks with new baby. Food that lends itself well to freezing is especially great when bring large helpings for leftovers. These Freezer Chicken Tenders are a good example and would be perfect for a young family.
Photo credit - The Lean Green Bean
Bring foods that are easy to reheat. For example, meals that have many different elements are trickier to reheat, and foods like mixed salads don’t keep well for the next day. Meals like lasagna are great for reheating and the leftovers can even easily be frozen to be reheated later! Click here for Ina Garten’s Lasagna recipe that a friend brought to our family after our third baby was born. This crock-pot chicken tortilla soup is another recipe that makes a lot of food and is also freezer friendly.
Photo credit - This Week for Dinner & Peas and Crayons
Strategize well when the new parents have other children in addition to the baby. There are two ways to approach this. First, you can simply bring food that appeals to all ages. The second approach is to bring a separate meal for the parents and the kids, perhaps something a little more “grown-up” for the parents and something more kid-friendly for the children. As grateful as I was, there was one night where our dinner was definitely more geared to adults so the kids wouldn’t eat it – we ended up having to make a separate dinner for the kids when we weren’t planning on it. Something like stuffed shells is a great option – a little more interesting than just pasta and sauce but still kid-friendly flavors. Plus, stuffed shells are easy to double so you can give a little extra to the family! Click here for a great stuffed shells recipe!
Photo credit - Sheri Silver
Don’t forget dessert! People will never ask for or expect dessert, but that doesn’t mean they don’t want it. Dessert is always a nice treat, especially when there is serious sleep deprivation going on. Frozen homemade chocolate chip cookie dough balls are one of the best desserts to bring to new parents. They can bake fresh cookies anytime they get a hankering! Click here for a recipe that makes perfect chocolate chip cookies – plus the dough freezes well, too!
Photo credit - This Week for Dinner