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!

  • oneparticularkitchen

    This is a great post! Thanks! That IS a question that gets asked all the time. :)

  • Shannon W.

    Those are wonderful suggestions! Thank you. I love your labels – where did you find them/

  • feastonthis

    Thanks for posting these ideas! I was just trying to think of what to take a friend who cant have onions, garlic, or dairy right now because of breastfeeding. Now I have an idea to work with.

  • Great post! I love giving food (and receiving it too)! You’re labels are a cute touch!

  • Annie

    Hi Shannon!
    The labels are from Target. I got them in the aisle with all their notecards and stationery, in a cute little pail container. I haven’t checked in a while to see if they still carry them.
    :) Annie

  • Lorie

    I do not know how you do ALL that you do (on top of being a mom) but you are an inspiration!

  • Wow, great post!!
    I love the disposable container idea… it seems like I’m always missing some containers and can’t remember where I’ve left them or who has it!

  • mediocreperfectionist

    I love your blog! What a great inspiration for food gifts. Thanks for posting. I have a ton of new ideas now.

  • i love this post!! ps i have the same labels. :)

  • How very thoughtful!

    And just so you know, there are two houses for sale on my street :)

  • Annie you are too thoughtful :-) Great job on improvising!! The modified enchiladas were great.

  • Great post with lots of great ideas! I like adding healthy snacks and breakfast foods as well!

  • Anna

    Great ideas as usual, Annie….I wish I had such a thoughtful friend when my daughter was born!

  • You have such lucky friends! Love these ideas. I never really thought about a New Parent Care Package, but it’s a wonderful idea!

  • These are all such DAMN good ideas – What a wonderful post!
    Thanks for all these great suggestions!!

  • You’re SO thoughtful! I love all your ideas – your friends are very lucky!

  • Great post!
    I took a care package to my SIL after my neice was born and she was most appreciative. She said she lived on the muffins and soup I brought her the first two weeks. Not having kids myself, I had no idea how helpful it really was. :)

  • I LOVE THIS! I’ve starred this in my reader and will remember this for the next time I take a meal. Sure, dinner is great, but you are so right, what about snacks and such? LOVE it!

  • This is an absolutely wonderful idea! It never occurred to me before to do something like this for new parents.

  • What a great offering of meals! I’m sure they truly appreciate it!

  • I have a friend who is scheduled to have a baby Sunday! Thank you for the tips, this gives me a new, refreshed look on what I can do for them!

  • Thanks for the post. I definitely starred it in my reader so I can refer back when my friends start their families.

    Also, I wanted to point out that you have beautiful handwriting!!

  • Sunny

    This meal looks awesome – just what I was looking for.

    Can you tell or maybe post in your original entry if the dish is “freezeable”? Or how you could do it?

    Again …. thanks!

  • Annie

    Hi Sunny,
    I have never frozen these myself, but have heard from many others that they freeze well. Hope that helps!
    :) Annie

  • Veronica

    Thank you for the wonderful post! I just recently had a baby and have been blessed by several friends and church members who stopped by to give meals to me. I know how appreciated it was… now I feel the need to return the favor somehow. Your suggestions and tips go beyond the simple casserole, and really speak thoughtfulness for the recipient. (Which is what I’m going for!) I’d love to see a second blog post with even more ideas for different menu themes, etc.

  • Amibeth

    I usually have a dozen friends expecting, and at the moment I can’t think of one who lives close… this REALLY makes me want to have a friend with a new baby! But, its also great ideas for my elderly aunt and uncle as my aunt recoups from surgery. Thanks!

  • jennie

    What a wonderful blessing:) We have been getting tons of baby clothes, but seriously, seriously, a meal would have been the best gift ever!! I do send over lasagnas from time to time, but after having a baby, and only getting meals from KFC, you inspired me to step it up-adding breakfast and snacks is a great idea!

  • Heather

    That’s great! We’re about to have baby #2 soon and I just hope my friends are as thoughtful! The other thing I’d add that was helpful to me as a new mom was meals that don’t require utensils (other than my fingers!) were welcome as well. Having a new little one who wants to nurse all the time (and is just learning to do it) can make for clumsy eating with messier foods. When I could use just my fingers, it made things a little easier.

  • That’s an awesome idea! I love the idea that people think to do this outside of church. I’ve always been blessed to be a member of a church when I had a baby – a close friend would roster a full week of meals for us and we knew we were being fed every day for a week. Such a relief when you’re stranded on the couch and trying to find your new-life-feet :).
    One suggestion I have though, is to ask the new mom if she’s steering away from spicy foods. This may be old-wives-tale territory, but my mom was always on me to not eat garlic spicy foods, broccoli, etc when I was in the early stages of breastfeeding. She’s pretty strict though, so maybe its not necessary. ;)

  • Annie

    I guess I sort of assume that the mom would let you know that when you ask them about any other allergies, preferences, etc. I have nursed my kids for a combined total of over 1.5 years and I’ve never stayed away from spicy foods, etc. I don’t really believe in that at all and we’ve been just fine.

  • Ummm…hi. My due date is November 5. How would you like to become good friends in the next 3 weeks and then you can bring me a meal? ;) lol!! these are AMAZING suggestions! love!!!

  • NaDell

    Dollar Tree has a pretty good selection of disposable pans. I try to get a new set after each meal so I’m always ready.

  • Steph

    Thanks for the great ideas! I always try to make sure that I pack everything in disposable containers and include paper plates or bowls, paper napkins, and plastic silverware. It’s a great way to get rid of all of those extras you have from birthday parties and the like. No dishes and the family gets festive, fun dinnerware. :)

  • Amy

    Great idea about using leftover paper goods from parties. As you said, it eliminates dishes & makes it a bit more festive! Especially if there are older siblings! :) And to Annie, thanks for this page as a reference!

  • Elisabeth

    Just remember that if the new mom is nursing anything spicy may make for a fussy baby later! That and dairy usually are pretty rough on a newborn. Healthy muffins are always nice though. Something easy and healthy for a busy new mom to eat in between spare seconds!

  • Annie

    I would assume people would have sense enough to ask the mom about any food restrictions, as I mentioned in my post. I have nursed both of my kids (to 13 months and 8 months, still going) and have never once restricted my diet. Everyone is different.

  • Jamie

    I am the mother to three and bf’ing at the moment! I have never restricted my diet either, but that being said, I have friends that do or have. I guess everyone is different but I have read that most moms in other countries never change their diet and they bf more than we do here in the USA, so I have never changed my diet either. (Except for the jalepanoes….I have given those up temporarily ;).

  • Stephanie

    I’ve actually read that babies love garlic in breast milk! Apparently it makes the milk sweeter or something? I can’t remember exactly, but there was a study done on this. Also, the study suggests that the larger variety of foods you introduce your child to through breastfeeding, the less likely they are to be picky when they start eating solids.

  • guest

    I just wanted to leave a comment here about how much this is appreciated – I’m a mom of twins that had a neighbor that organized a bunch of neighbors to get together & make sure that my husband & I were well fed after the birth of our boys. Years later – when I was actually getting some sleep – I had a neighbor that delivered twins – and I had so much fun organizing our neighbors (I had moved to a different state in the mean time) to do the same for their family. I took the time to then write my original neighbor that had done this for me – and once again thank her & tell her how much it had meant to us – but that we had been to weary to properly thank her at the time.

  • Anonymous

    Yes, it’s definitely true that the breast milk can taste different depending on what mom has consumed, and I completely agree with you that it introducing them to a variety of foods early leads to a more diverse palate later. To me really the bottom line is that it’s silly to say no spicy food, onions, etc. across the board. Every situation should be different and blanket statements are useless.

  • Karen

    A real blessing is to add disposable plates, cups, silverware, and napkins! A small plant for mom and a little toy for older siblings is usually a bonus too!

  • Mendy

    I have always prided myself on a good meal giver since I sooo appreciated all the meals we received when my twins were born (it’s what kept us from starving in those first few weeks). My go-to meals are chicken tetrazinni or lasagna. I make a big batch, preparing one for immediate consumption and the other to be frozen for later. I always try to take a salad and bread as well as some snacks and easy to grab treats. Cookies, brownies, banana bread, muffins, crackers with cubed cheese, fruit, veggies, etc. I also usually add a half gallon of tea or lemonade.

    I love the idea of adding disposable plates and such. I always use disposable containers for the meal but this is something I haven’t thought of before. Thanks for the suggestions!

  • Guest

    I actually did alot of freezer prep before my son was born and one of the best things I made was breakfasts. Breakfast burritos and muffins. It was easy for my husband to pop in the micro, especially when he had to head back to work. Something I am keeping in mind for my pregnant friends that are due this year.

  • I know this is a really old blog post, but I am planning meals for my best friend and her new baby and this fit in perfectly!!! Thank you so much. Great recipes! I really enjoy your blog. I’ll be making this meal tonight x2…one for us and one for them!

  • (:

    I also use things that I don’t need back, baggies, disposable tupperware, etc. AND someone once brought me paper plates and napkins, and plasticware. When the meal was done throw it all away, NO CLEAN UP either! As a mother of a newborn with two other little kids running around it was such a HUGE blessing!

  • Susann Gehring

    I have a family with five kids that is in need of some meals! This post gave me some great ideas of what to put together for them! Just need to add some more food in it! Thanks

  • Ssmillermail

    check out “takethemameal.com” for creating an online schedule for meals for friends.

  • Campfyrgirl

    I was recently quite I’ll – for a couple of weeks. My hubby did an amazing job keeping things together. The biggest blessing for us came through friends who went grocery shopping for things we needed as well as organizing meals for a week. It was such a relief at the end of the day (when I was at my worst) to know my family was being fed. All that to say, giving meals doesn’t have to end with the arrival of baby. Many families can use the blessing & love that a meal brings even after baby is grown. Thanks, Annie, for the post! Blessings.

  • Ckvincent

    I am in the position of trying to care and provide some meals to my elderly parents. Usually, I make a dinner for my husband, actually he does all the cooking, but we have enough left over for two more to eat. I know they appreciate it. Its hard cooking for two and most recipes make 4-6 servings. I take it over to them, remember to date it, and while I’m there I clean out the frig and take some of my containers home, to refill and do it all over again. It is a blessing for us to do this!

  • Allison

    I love to make Paula Dean’s crock pot mac and cheese to give as a part of a meal to families with young kids. One time I couldn’t locate my crock pot so I borrowed the recipient’s one. Since then I’ve asked people-“Do you mind if I borrow your crock pot-if I return it full?” Great for tortilla soup, chili…

  • Anonymous

    Good idea!

  • Rebecca

    What a FABULOUS website!!! Thank You!

  • Amibeth,
    My sister-in-law received a pizza delivery from her mom that lived 5 states away…..I’ve always thought that would be a great surprise when you’re too far away to bring something yourself. =)

  • Foster Mom

    Don’t forget that foster parents with a new placement would love to be included in this blessing too. That’s a great way to be involved with foster care in a unique and very-needed way!
    ~signed, a single foster parent who gets overlooked because they must think I’m Robo-Parent!

  • Jenny

    It’s overstating, to say the least, that “(spicy foods) and dairy usually are pretty rough on a newborn.” I’ve not found that to be the case with my own children. I, too, nursed my kids exclusively (to 12 months and 9 months, still going) and did not restrict my diet at all. I drink copious amounts of milk and consume other dairy while nursing, in addition to enjoying my favorite spicy foods (including my favorite, Annie’s Spicy Bean Burritos!) and my pediatrician agrees that my babies had no ill effects. If anything, they’re learning different tastes though nursing based on what I eat, which could serve them well as they move into table food exclusively as they grow. It’s also important to remember this information as well.

  • Debao

    I think one of the most important statements repeated here is to check in with the nursing mom first. Everyone’s situations and babies are different. I nursed each of my children for over a year. I am lactose intolerant and it turns out my babies were too. My son also had reflux so I had to be careful about eating foods that would irritate him. With all this, neither of my children are picky eaters. My son ate brussel sprouts and many other foods young children usually refuse. Just because you can’t introduce foods during breastfeeding doesn’t mean children won’t be healthy eaters. As a new mom you need to do what is right for you and your child. Friends will support this! I always ask first.

  • annieseats

    Absolutely! It’s just a pet peeve of mine when everyone assumes that all nursing moms avoid onion/garlic/spices/anything with flavor. Not true at all. So yes, always just ask!

  • annieseats

    Couldn’t agree more. Some, but definitely not all babies, have these sensitivities. As I said in the post and as you echo here, everyone is different. It makes far more sense to ask the mom than to make blanket assumptions about their situation.

  • Natalie Holdren

    A favorite meal for our family to give in these situations, is their favorite meal to eat: homemade hamburger pizza w/loads of cheesy-goodness; frozen steamer bag of corn; fresh fruit; homemade chocolate chip cookies. B/c I always have these pizzas made up and stored in my freezer, and b/c they go straight on the oven rack, this meal can be delivered and kept frozen or immediately placed in oven (pizza) and microwave (corn) and the meal is “fresh” and hot w/in 45 minutes, and all the clean up is throw-away-able…unless one is a better homemaker than I and actually places the corn IN a serving container! :)

  • Dawn_Cornelius

    This was a great find (on Pinterest!) for our friend whose husband has cancer. They are home from the hospital, but have 2 kiddos to take care of as well. This is perfect. Thank you for putting this together!

  • Steffie

    Actually, a study found that babies LIKE the flavor of breastmilk after mom has had some garlic!

  • Enid

    Great ideas! Very good suggestions….and now my mind is spinning of what else I could do!

  • Aideen

    I know this is posted for new parents, but our dear friends did this for us when Mom was very sick. It was a Blessing. I know we wouldn’t have eaten properly and to have that off of our mind at that time was, once again, a Blessing. Our friend also brought disposable utensils and plates. All of their gifts provided us with more time with Mom instead of cooking and cleaning.

  • Jenniferdeleonlbsw

    try the Pioneer Woman’s meatloaf. It freezes very well and is wonderful! You could freeze/store it in smaller portions or use mini loaf pans!

  • Cindy

    Foster Mom ~ you are absolutely right!

  • Nancy

    I’ll let you know when my next baby is due. ;)

  • Mejiaslady

    would like recipe for beenchiladas?

  • annieseats

    It’s linked in this post or you can use the search function.

  • Heidi

    I agree. Or what about those of us who were recently placed with a child from a foster home that we intend to adopt, and we are all getting used to the dynamic changes in our family (regardless of the age of the child!). People remembered us with our home-grown kids, but nobody has ever welcomed our newly placed children.

    But, in fairness, people don’t think of the needs when you adopt an older child–they throw showers for infants. Maybe you as a foster mom and I as an adopted mom need to start a new trend? ;)

  • I have loved this post before I even followed your blog and realized how great your recipes were. I think I found it on Pinterest and recommended it to all my friends who regularly deliver meals. Thanks for sharing this!

  • Gayle Wocoski

    Really great ideas. My daughter’s friend’s granny passed away and we wanted to send meals to the family and also baked goods over for one night of Shiva. I thank you for helping make my choices easier!! :-)