On the cooking message board I frequent, one question that is asked over and over again is what sort of meal is best to bring to new parents. I feel I have some experience in this area, as I have been both the giver and receiver of such meals. First of all, just know that new parents will be grateful for anything that you bring them. As always, it is the thought that counts, and most new parents are just happy to have a meal that they did not have to spend time, energy, or money on. I know that we hugely appreciated every single meal that we received after Andrew was born.
Of course, as a foodie, I try really hard to come up with something a little bit different than what others might bring. Not because there is anything wrong with the norm, but just to provide some variety. Baked pasta dishes and chili or similar items are likely the most common meals brought over, and for good reason. They are well-liked, make large quantities and they are stored and reheated well. Just to spice things up a bit, I decided to go for a Mexican theme when I made two meals for friends with new babies. I made chicken enchiladas, homemade salsa with tortilla chips, and Mexican rice. I also think it is a nice touch to provide food for breakfasts and/or snacks as well, because new parents need to eat more than just dinner. I added a batch of classic hummus and a large bag of fresh veggies to each package so that they would have a tasty and healthy snack within easy reach, rather than grab for something less nutritious. Caring for a newborn is hard work after all, so it is important to be sure the parents are taking care of themselves as well! I also threw in a batch of peanut butter chocolate chip muffins for a quick and easy breakfast.
Whenever I bring a meal over to a family, I always check with them at least a few days in advance to be sure that they will be home and that no one else is planning to bring a meal the same night. I also make sure to ask if there are any foods that they do not like or that they are allergic to. And of course, it never hurts to ask if there is anything in particular that sounds good or that they are craving. I make sure to clearly label everything that I bring, especially with instructions for baking, etc. Finally, I package everything in disposable containers so that the recipients will not need to bother returning anything to me. Aside from the Mexican meal, another meal idea that I have found that goes over very well is a batch of soup and fixings for sandwiches, such as grilled cheese.
In this case, one of the moms I brought food to recently had to eliminate dairy from her diet for the sake of breastfeeding. I had originally planned to make the famous “Benchiladas”, but those contain dairy, dairy and more dairy. So, I came up with my own concoction and I think it turned out pretty well. I made grilled chicken with a spicy wet rub, mixed it with some extra Mexican rice and a can of black beans. I put this in tortillas, topped with salsa, rolled them up and baked until warmed through. I made a couple to taste test myself before feeding them to others, and I thought they were great! They were a hit with my friends as well so I am happy the experiment turned out to be a success. I did not top them with any sort of enchilada sauce since I think that often masks the flavors of whatever is inside the tortilla, but you certainly could add it if you desire. All in all, both families were extremely appreciative of the meals and as a bonus I got to cuddle some very precious newborn babies!