What’s the best gift you can possibly give a new mom? Time.
Time to shower.
Time to eat.
Time to just sit and stare at her sweet new baby.
Time to heal.
So, how do you give someone the gift of time? Take something off their plate. And by that I mean, put something ON their plate!
When I joined a mom’s group before my first son was born almost 6 years ago I knew no one in Boise. We had just moved here, I was super pregnant and we had no family nearby. I also worked from home full time as a photo retoucher, so there weren’t even any co-workers to meet or make friends with. Google connected me with Meetup.com which led me to Boise Babies and Tots. There were about 40 members or so at the time (now there are over 200) and after signing up they told me that for pregnant moms they set up a meal baby registry to bring meals in the days and weeks after a new baby is born. I thought great, but I don’t know anyone…who is going to bring a stranger a meal? Well turns out about 8 people did! I think I had only met one of them prior to them bringing me a meal. When our second was born and I had been a part of the group for 3 years we had people bringing us meals every other day for 8 weeks. The same is happening now with baby 3. It’s such an amazing gift and it truly is the gift of time. Could I get my act together and make my family dinner every night? Sure. Of course I could. But having that one thing taken off my plate makes such an amazing difference in these first few weeks when you’re tired and hungry and just want dinner to magically appear in front of you.
Over the past 6 years I’ve tried to pay it forward as much as possible and bring dinners to other new moms whenever I can (whether I’ve met them or not). Between receiving so many meals and taking just as many I’ve created a list of some of my favorite meals to bring to new moms (as well as figured out some do and do nots about bringing them). Do you have something you love taking to families? I want to hear about it!
Some things to consider when bringing on a meal:
So you’ve signed up on mealbaby.com (or other similar website) and are all set to bring this new mom a meal. You get busy and the day arrives and you figure you’ll drop it off around 6. But you forgot something important- telling that mom your plan. Meanwhile she doesn’t want to be rude and say “Hey so when are you bringing us dinner?” (especially if she doesn’t know you well) but I guarantee you she is wondering that. And if you forgot. If dinner is actually coming. If it’s going to be something her older kids will eat. What time it will arrive and if she should just feed the kids something different. Always communicate the night before- even if you don’t know what you’re bringing yet- just to let the mom know that yes, you remember you’re signed up, yes, dinner is still coming and approximately what time it will arrive.
2. Check for allergies, food dislikes and nursing sensitivities
Before deciding what to bring a family, make sure you check they don’t have any major allergies or a strong dislike for certain foods.
Check with the mom to see if there’s anything she is avoiding if she is nursing. Generally I try to make dairy free meals just to be safe or put cheese on the side. Soy can also be a big sensitivity for young babes so I generally avoid that as well. Coconut aminos are a great substitute for asian dishes that call for soy sauce!
3. Some like it hot. . . but others really don’t
I love spicy, my kids not so much. I try to avoid cooking anything too spicy because you never know what adults and kids alike will tolerate.
4. What’s the head count?
Do they have visitors in town? I always make plenty of food because leftovers are always welcome in our house, we’re big eaters anyway and you never know if Grandma is visiting and adding to the headcount. Bonus if it’s something that will freeze well and can be split into 2 meals.
5. Don’t forget the kids.
Do they have other kids? If so, it’s worth asking what their kids will eat. My kids generally don’t like “one pot” meals- they like to eat things deconstructed. Doesn’t mean you can’t take something fancier or more catered to an adult palate but don’t be offended if their 2 year old turns up their nose at your eggplant parmesan. I’ve done special little kid packs with things like cut up ham and cheese, crackers and fruit when I’m making something I know my own kids wouldn’t eat.
If it’s a good friend feel free to take it in a dish or Tupperware you really want back, but if it’s a stranger, new friend or someone who lives super far from you, try to only take meals in containers you don’t need returned. Ziplock bags work great for salads- use mason jars or other recycled jars for salad dressing. The dollar store sells aluminum foil baking dishes. Or use Tupperware you have but be sure to let the receiver know that you don’t need it back so they don’t have to worry about keeping track of whose is whose. Remember we’re trying to give these new moms the gift of time, don’t make them drive all over town returning Tupperware!
Finally: Don’t skip dessert!
Ok, ok. It’s totally fine to skip dessert, most people who bring meals do and really ANYTHING you bring is so very appreciated by these families. But I once brought a family a meal and their 4 year old little boy said “yay, what did you bring for dessert???” when he excitedly answered the door. I generally do bring dessert but for some reason I hadn’t that day. I brought them cookies the next week (and never forget the dessert now).
Here are a few of my favorite things to take people. Generally I pair all my main dishes with a ziplock bag of salad- toppings on the side, a small thing of homemade dressing, a baguette or other French bread and some kind of yummy dessert or cut up fruit. The salad is a great way to add some greens without cooked veggies getting soggy or being reheated and when you put the toppings on the side you instantly have a deconstructed meal for the kids. If it’s a good friend I love to toss in a bottle of champagne so they can cheers their new addition!
Soups: I love soup! Especially for winter babies cause it just feels so cozy.
or for something different try this, its delicious! Hearty Chicken Stew with Butternut Squash and Quinoa
Comfort Food: My husband could live off casseroles and really who can blame him.
Tuna Noodle Casserole
Homemade Mac n Cheese (if dairy isn’t a problem)
Chicken Marsala (and mashed potatoes!)
or for something different try this McLeod family favorite: Tamale Pie
Spaghetti and Meatballs
Grab and Go:
For when you don’t have time (or the inclination) to make a home cooked meal!
Rotisserie Chicken, bagged salad, French bread and a cut up fruit bowl!
Freezer Breakfast Burritos- I like to take these to people who I know have busy lives or short maternity leaves. They’re fantastic for a grab and go breakfast so mom doesn’t forget to feed herself!!
There are so many other things out there, the sky is the limit. And take it from me- no matter what you bring the family will be
appreciative. Feed the mamas and give them that ultimate gift of time.
Email us your favorite recipes to add to our meal baby repertoire!