By Katie Moosbrugger
I have a couple of friends expecting babies any minute now which means I’ll be busier than normal in the kitchen. And that’s just fine with me. Any new mom knows receiving a home cooked meal the first few weeks after delivering a baby is one of the best gifts you can get!
First, if you’ve never brought a meal to a mom, know that the best types of meals are those that can be frozen and reheated. And if you really want to be organized about it, make a large batch that you can divide up. You can either bring over several small meals to the new mom, or divide up your dish so that your family has a back-up dinner on-hand too!
Some of the best freeze-ahead and reheat dinners are the winter dishes like beef stew, chili, pot pies, and some kinds of soup. Pastas and quiches – although not necessarily winter dishes – are easy to make and can be frozen and reheated.
My favorite new mom dish that I make over and over (and if I brought you a meal in the past I know you are probably rolling your eyes) is Italian stuffed shells. This is so easy, usually avoids any kind of allergies, and you can make the stuffing in a variety of different ways. Lasagna, baked ziti and baked spaghetti are other great, easy dishes too. Pick up some frozen garlic bread and a bagged (or fresh) salad, and you have a complete meal any new mom would love!
Another great idea that is easy to do and divide is spaghetti sauce. You can make a big batch and freeze small portions and then just buy different boxes of pasta for the new mom. Boiling noodles is easy enough, and it makes the meal that much better when homemade sauce comes with it.
Crockpot meals are a no brainer when it comes to quick and easy, and crock pots produce great dishes for the new mom. Just “Google” crock pot recipes or pick up one of the million recipe books (I have Crockery Favorites by Frances Towner Giedt of Reader’s Digest), and you are sure to find a great meal idea. One of my all-time favorite crock pot recipes is slow-cooked barbecue ribs. So easy and so delish!
One-pot dinners like jambalaya or rice and beans or pot roast – whether you make in the crock pot or on the stove – are easy and a sure-pleaser for most families too. So are stir frys and and breakfast dinners (pancakes, egg dishes, crepes)!
If you are tight on time (and who isn’t), you can always just pick up a prepared – or ready to cook – meal for your new mom friend too. I’ve done this plenty of times – and received meals like this - and the gesture is always appreciated. Great places for meals like this include Costco (supposedly their pre-made meatloafs, chicken noodle soup, and pastas are really good – and so are some of their frozen meals), The Fresh Market, or even Harris Teeter or Lowes for roasted chickens, soups, and other dishes from the deli.
A couple of things to think about before you plan your New Mom menu:
1. You should always ask if any one in the family has certain allergies, and avoid those foods.
2. Don’t forget that moms who nurse might want to avoid foods that could cause gas, like chocolate, spices (cinnamon, garlic, curry, chili pepper), citrus fruits and their juices (oranges, lemons, limes, and grapefruit), strawberries, kiwifruit, pineapple,; the gassy veggies (onion, cabbage, garlic, cauliflower, broccoli, cucumbers, and peppers); and fruits with a laxative effect, such as cherries and prunes.
3. Lots of new moms are surrounded by out of town family the first few weeks. So if you are on schedule to bring a dinner to a home with visiting guests, it’s always nice to find out how many people in total you will be serving.
4. If the new mom has young kids at home, you might want to consider bringing “safety sides” too (depending on what you are serving). This could be Mac ‘n Cheese, a small delivery pizza, or pick up from Chick-fil-A, for example.
5. Desserts are always a nice compliment to your meal, but not necessary. However, do you know a new mom who would turn away a sweet treat?
6. Coordinating a dinner schedule for your new mom friend is always a good idea so she is not bombarded with a million frozen meals at once – or of the same dish. This is easy to do…just nominate one friend to create the schedule and share with everyone who is willing to cook and bring a meal. There is also a free online tool called Take Them a Meal.com which helps you organize and coordinate your meal planning with friends.
What other dinner and logistic ideas do you have?