New parents get a lot of little blankets, tiny unusable shoes, and outfits that are quickly outgrown. But ask a set of new parents, and many will tell you that what they need most is help with meal times.
First of all, who gets a meal? I say that anyone adding to their family should get a meal. It doesn’t matter if it’s their first or fifth child—or if the child is a newborn or an older child being adopted or fostered—they need your help. Please don’t forget to include adoptive parents; they oftentimes are dealing with more complexities with less acknowledgment or assistance than traditional parents.
Second, how should you organize the meals? Well, if you plan to organize a large group to bring meals to the family, there are many websites such as mealtrain.com or takethemameal.com that can help you invite others to participate and schedule meal deliveries. If it’s just you independently bringing a meal, simply check with the new family on what would be a good day to deliver. Also inquire as to any food sensitivities, allergies as well as general food preferences and favorites.
Third, when planning the menu, I like to take the information I’ve gained from my questions, and provide the family with 2-3 options for their meal. Some easy favorites include a taco bar, lasagna, tator tot casserole or enchilada bakes. In the winter, I like to bring a butternut squash soup with apples and cinnamon mixed in. I like to include all food groups, and sometimes this is accomplished by pairing the main dish with a salad or a zucchini and corn mix. I oftentimes add some strawberries and blueberries with a small chocolate bar or cookies for dessert. I am always sure to bring enough food for dinner that evening and leftovers for lunch the next day. Occasionally I will make a small fruit salad and muffins for their breakfast the next morning as well.
Fourth, the presentation of your meal is important too. I always put the heating instructions on a nice card on top of the meal. If you have a ribbon or string, tie it on the meal to make it look more like a pretty gift. If you purchased a small gift for the new baby or siblings, wrap that to match as well.
Finally, upon arrival at the recipient’s home, try not to stay and chat for long. Remember that they are exhausted, probably embarrassed about the state of their house, and hungry. So, unless you are asked to stay and provide company or help with the children/house chores, try to just meet the new baby then leave it up to them to contact you when they are more up to it.
It’s always satisfying to help new parents in such a basic way. Plus this won’t ever feel like much of a burden if you always remember to double every batch so you have a nice meal for your family too!
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