When a friend goes through a major life event, like having a baby, I often wonder how to help. I start by praying. And then I think to practical needs—how can I be a blessing to that friend and her family?
For me, the answer usually involves food. I can only imagine what a blessing it would be to have a home-cooked meal arrive on their doorstep, which they are in the midst of trying to figure out their new normal with a new little one.
Before writing this post, I spoke with a handful of women who have been the recipient of a meal during a major life event. They shared their favorite meals, tips, and the best advice for those bringing the meal. Here they are!
If you’re unsure if there is a meal train set up, text the recipient to find out if bringing a meal would be helpful. “I’d love to bring you a meal. When is a good time to do that?” You can also volunteer to set up a meal train. Take Them a Meal is a free, user-friendly online platform to do that.
2. Consider the recipient’s preferences
Find out if they have any dietary restrictions or food aversions. The meal train website will often list this information. You may know this friend well enough to determine if they like very healthy foods, or if comfort food would be best.
3. Choose a meal that reheats well
A steak dinner sounds lovely, but twice-cooked steak is often overcooked steak. (A steak dinner also sounds expensive.) Choose items like casseroles, pot roast, mac & cheese, and baked pasta—things that reheat well in the oven and in the microwave. These items usually fall into the category of comfort food, which is perfect when the recipient needs energy to fuel their day. These types of dishes also often feed more than two people, which means the recipients can enjoy leftovers and also share with family members who may be staying with them.
If you’re not a cook, live in another state, or are short on time, I think that sending takeout food would be a huge blessing, too! Ask the new parents for their favorite dishes from a local restaurant. Have it delivered or pick it up and deliver it yourself.
4. Use disposable containers
Take the meal in disposable foil pans so that the recipient doesn’t have to wash and return the pan. They have enough on their mind about without adding that to the mix. 🙂 A blog reader who I went to high school with (hi, Megan!) purchases casserole dishes from thrift stores, and brings meals in those. They’re even sturdier than foil pans, and the recipient won’t need to return them. Such a great idea!
5. Label the dishes/include instructions
Use a black marker to label the dish so the recipients don’t need to guess or lift up the foil to find out what’s inside. Be sure to also include reheating instructions and the oven temperature, if applicable.
6. Confirm the meal delivery
Send a text the day before to confirm what time is best for the recipient. New moms may want to plan around feeding schedules or nap times!
7. Don’t overstay your welcome
In some cases, it might be best to drop off the meal and leave. In others, you might stay to visit for a little bit. Use good judgment here, and if you’re unsure, ask the recipient. “I’m planning to drop off the meal and leave, but if you’d like some company, I’d love to stay to visit for a few minutes.”
8. Think beyond dinner
Delivering dinner is great, but how about delivering breakfast items, too? On my last baby meal drop-off, I included this Cinnamon Streusel Apple Bread to nibble on for breakfast/snacks. I also added a batch of How Sweet Eats’ lactation cookies for the new mom, and a small batch of pumpkin bars (mainly so the new dad didn’t have to eat lactation cookies—lol).
9. Remember the siblings
If you’re dropping off a baby meal and including a gift for the new baby, don’t forget about the siblings! My mom always included a little box of animal crackers (the Barnum’s animal crackers box is adorable) for the older brother or sister so they wouldn’t feel left out.
10. Include a card or note
A card or note goes a long way to show that you care. You could also send a text a week or so later, asking how your friend is doing. If you pray, that’s a great time to ask for specific prayer requests.
Now onto the recipes! Here are 9 great recipes for bringing to a friend who just had a baby:
Authentic Mexican Rice (pairs well with Easy Cheesy Chicken Enchiladas)
Super Flaky Southern Biscuits (pairs well with White Chicken Chili)
Pull-Apart Garlic Bread (pairs well with Fall Minestrone or Simple Baked Ziti)
Most of these tips also work for friends who are grieving the loss of a loved one or have been injured/hospitalized.
I’d love to learn more from you—do you have any tips to add? Let me know in the comments below!