The arrival of a new baby, regardless of whether it’s the first or fourth, means that mom and dad’s hands are occupied and tired, and not likely to find their way into the kitchen in the first few days following a baby’s birth.
So why not prep a meal or two and give the gift of a well-stocked freezer to these new parents who will wholeheartedly appreciate a home cooked meal? Simply copy the cooking/baking instructions onto a label, affix it to the package and present it when you pop by to meet the new addition. Or, if you sense the family is busy and not up for visitors, discreetly leave the food in a bag (or cooler) on the front porch, and call or email to let them know that you’ll be leaving a little something outside for them.
Here are a few other things to consider when making a meal for another family:
- Put some thought into the meal but don’t stress about it too much. The recipients will be so happy to receive something home-cooked they won’t care at all if it doesn’t taste like it was prepare by Michelin starred chef.
- Avoid including common allergens (peanuts) or foods that people have very strong feelings about (olives).
- Put the food into disposable containers so they don’t need to be returned to you.
- Include full instructions on how to store the food in the freezer, reheat and/or cook it, and what to do with any leftovers.
As for the meals themselves, here are some ideas to get you started:
Casseroles and Pastas: These are ideal for feeding others because they a) travel well b) can be delivered fresh or frozen, and c) are total comfort food and generally very well received. Recipes to try: Baked mac and cheese with little white beans, Orichette with Ground Chicken Bolognese, Chicken Tetrazzini.
Soups: Most soups lend themselves well to freezing and are a way to pack a lot of healthy ingredients into each and every bite. Avoid freezing soups that contain pieces of potato, as they tend to turn mealy when frozen. Recipes to try: Sausage and Kale Soup, Roasted Tomato and Garlic Soup, Red Pepper Soup, Creamy Asparagus Soup, Ham and White Bean Soup, Sweet Potato Soup.
Chilis: Chilis are a family favourite and for good reason; they taste fantastic, are made with nutritional ingredients, can easily be customized to suits everyone’s tastes, and freeze very well. Recipes to try: Chocolate Chip and Guinness Chili, Pumpkin Chili, Three Bean and Turkey Sausage Chili, Veggie Bean Chili with Quinoa.
Saucy Meats: Sauced meat is less likely to dry out making it ideal for reheating, or for freezing, as it will retain some moisture. Recipes to try: Slow Cooker Pork Ragu (send a box of pasta on the side), Chicken and Kale Pizza Bake, Pulled Pork, and Meatballs.
Slow Cooker Meals: Hands-off cooking means you can multitask during your day. Any of these dishes will be well received by a set of new parents and will take little time and effort and on your part. Recipes to try: Turkey meatballs with apple barbecue sauce, Shredded Tex-Mex Chicken, Slow Cooked Pot Roast with Potatoes, Slow Cooked Lamb Shanks with Lentils, Garlic and Rosemary.
‘TV’ Dinners: Fill portioned freezer-friendly and microwave-safe containers with some meat (try Apple and Brie Stuffed Chicken Breasts, mashed potatoes (try Kale Colcannon), veggies, and dessert (try Extra-Crispy Cardamom Pear and Cranberry Crisp). A definite upgrade from the grocery store TV dinner we’re all familiar with, and the individual meals can be pulled from the freezer and eaten as needed.
Don’t forget to include some side dishes with your meal delivery. A few bottles of beer or cider are certainly welcome, as is a fresh salad with dressing on the side. Lastly, you can never, ever go wrong with packaging up some cookie dough balls for the freezer. Everyone in the house will appreciate it, especially mom, who may just need a sweet treat now and again as she’s navigates the first few days with her newborn.
What do you like to cook for friends? Have you delivered food to a new mother or prepared a sympathy supper for someone in need? Please do share your ideas for what worked well!