We have all been in those early days after giving birth when the sleep deprivation is real and the ordeal to make breakfast, lunch, or dinner just seems beyond our abilities. We are starving 24/7 and yet we don't even have two hands free to open a wrapper let alone to put a meal together that extends beyond a protein bar.
That's why you need a #MomSquad to step in.
For some, this is made up predominantly of family. For others, it is a solid group of friends. Either way, every new mom (or mom to a newborn+other littles, especially!) needs a little love postpartum by way of good nutrition. And although there is lots to be said about the nutritional demands of a new mom, I'll save that for another post. Today, we are talking about the meals that we moms can bring other moms to support them and their families in those early, sleepless days.
Because the best meal for a new mom is one she actually gets to eat!
In this post, I will share some tried-and-true recommendations on:
What makes a great meal for new moms
Favorite meals to bring new moms
What you can do if you live too far to bring a new mom a meal
What makes a great meal for new moms
The obvious, sentimental answer is the fact that you are just seeking to support this new mom so pretty much any item she doesn't have to make will taste amazing to her! But beyond the emotional aspect of offering to bring someone a meal, here are some practical tips to consider:
This is obviously an added expense, so consider up front how much you are willing/able to spend. This will likely help guide what and how much you choose to bring (homemade vs takeout; a single batch vs extras).
If you find yourself short on time, consider which items are easier to assemble and/or order to bring a new mom. While everyone appreciates a home-cooked meal, there are plenty of quick, ready-made options or elements to a meal you can effortlessly add on.
If you are bringing a meal to someone, it is often easiest to plan for your family to have the same meal. By making twice as much of whatever you intend to bring, you add minimal effort on to what you would already be preparing for your family alone.
If you are going to bring a family a meal, do everything you can to bring not only enough but also some add-ons. Whether this be to help the picky eater in their home have something to eat, or to make sure the mom has enough to snack on later when her appetite spikes again, I don't think any mom has ever let food go to waste. Adopt the mentality that if you bring it, it will get eaten.
Consider if what you are bringing is something that may sound good any hour of the day. This isn't an essential, but it is a nice added mention. With new moms having such a messed up internal clock, they may be eating what you bring in the middle of the night or right after their morning feed. Consider if the main meal or one of the add-ons (like rolls, fruit, etc.) may hold well to also be had later on at a less official "dinner time."
Whether it be a known allergy (in mom or baby) or just an intolerance for either, it is always smart to ask the new mom beforebringing her and her family a meal if there is anything she or her family members can't tolerate.
Favorite Meals to Bring New Moms
Beyond the freezer meal ideas I shared in last week's blog post, I previously asked a few fellow dietitian moms to chime in on what their favorite meals to bring new moms are. Here is a round-up of our top faves, with some suggestions for things to keep in mind that make them favorites for good reason!
DIETITIAN MOMS LOVE: Simple MyPlate Pairings
As dietitians, we often live our lives with an innate need to build "MyPlate" at almost every meal. So by including a tasty protein with simple plant-based sides, bringing a meal that includes protein + veggies + whole grains + fruit for a family will help to not only satisfy their cravings for a complete meal but also help them to meet their nutritional needs from ALL food groups by giving them an assortment of options to build their plate with.
DIETITIAN MOMS LOVE: Foods that Make Nutrient-Dense Breakfasts or Lunches (Especially Those You Can Eat with One Hand!)
Some of my favorite meals I have received as a new moms aren't actually "dinner" per say. While sometimes we have gone ahead and eaten these breakfast and lunch items for dinner, I often save these for mornings and mid days as those seem to be the hardest meals to get in (especially once a spouse returns to work!). Consider bringing frittatas, healthy muffins, sweet potato hashes, or even deviled eggs, chicken salad with crackers, or cold quinoa salads. These work to eat any time of the day and can be a nutritious way to help new moms, especially those breastfeeding, to get in a lot of nutrition outside of just at dinner time.
DIETITIAN MOMS LOVE: Delicious Leftovers
Cook once, eat twice. I am pretty sure that is a mantra of motherhood, but especially in the early days. For that reason, consider dishes you could make a larger portion of so it serves the family not just on the night you deliver it, but also for leftover lunches or another night's dinner as well. This doubles the blessing of you bringing a meal well beyond just one night's worth!
This one sounds fancy but is an awesome, affordable option. Packed with great nutrition, I love how this one takes care of the protein, fat, starch, and veggie for a meal by putting them all in one! This is one of the best "one pan" meals you could pop on by with!
DIETITIAN MOMS LOVE: Dishes with Added Veggies
We all struggle with getting enough veggies in not only our kids but also ourselves. For this reason, bringing family favorites that you have added veggies too can be a welcomed surprise to mamas who want to eat healthy, wholesome favorites outside of just adding raw or cooked veggies on the side of any given entree.
Courtesy of Emily Rose Samuels, MS, RDN, LD
Some of my all-time favorites dishes are those tried and true by fellow dietitian friends, and this one from skinnytaste.com is no exception. I love how this recipe could be whipped up the night before, held in the fridge at work, and dropped off at a friend's on the way home without being a big mess nor hassle!
DIETITIAN MOMS LOVE: Healthy Toppings and Sides
If you are short on time to cook up a bunch of options or know this new mom maybe has another apprehensive eater at home, bringing a dish with lots of added toppings and sides can help to ease her anxiety around "what else to offer" her other family members when you bring the meal. Some easy ideas are to include kid-friendly sides that you either make or quickly pick up at the store on the day of delivery. Such ideas as tacos or tortilla soup where you make the taco meat or soup, than add on a bag of shredded cheese, Greek yogurt, avocados or guacamole, fresh pico de gallo, whole grain tortilla chips and/or tortillas, and a can of black beans or cook-in-the-bag brown rice can make it an easy to execute meal on both you and the new mom!
This is such an easy recipe to make a double batch of then split to serve out to your family and another. Then just buy doubles of: cheddar cheese, whole grain chips, avocados or guacamole, sour cream (or plain Greek yogurt!), and any other fixings you fancy!
DIETITIAN MOMS LOVE: Desserts with Added Nutritional Benefits
Lactation cookies understandably get a lot of attention with new moms but there are lots of delicious and nutritious dessert ideas to consider adding on to a meal you plan to bring a new mom. Think about adding avocado or zucchini to a batch or brownies, or wholesome ingredients like cashews, almond meal, and oats to something like a yogurt berry tart.
If you are looking for a healthier option of dessert, this would make a delightful addition to any dinner that could be enjoyed around the clock. Plus, what newly promoted big or little sis wouldn't love to be told they can have dessert for dinner?!
What you can do if you live too far to bring a new mom a meal
See what options exist in the region of the new mom. There are lots of ways to send edible support even when you can't physically stop by with dinner.
Set up a meal train for them
There are a lot of websites out there that will organize this for you, but one that I have used several times is MealTrain.com. This allows you to set up a care calendar for the new mom/family with all the information one would need to bring them a meal.
Order delivery or takeout
Between UberEats or a takeout order for the dad to pick up, sometimes ordering delivery or takeout is a great alternative option when you can't bring something homemade. Just pick a place (or two), shoot over a web link to the menu(s), and ask her to give you the order for her (and her family). Then, agree on a pick-up or delivery time with her, and you take care of calling it in and covering the bill.
Think outside of dinner
Whether it be ordering from Great Harvest Bread Company's delivery options (a personal favorite to send people; free delivery available for orders over $35) or sending someone a cart full of groceries via services like Instacart, she is sure to appreciate any food she doesn't have to fetch during her round-the-clock feeding and out-of-whack eating schedule. This is a great way to help stock her up on some goodies that may serve for breakfast, lunch, and/or dinner.
What will you make for your #MomSquad?
There are so many ways I have been blessed by way of food in the postpartum season. I hope these ideas above help give you some ideas on what you could do to support fellow moms in their postpartum season, knowing there is a good chance they will gladly reciprocate if/when you too find yourself needing a meal you don't have to make yourself! If you want more ideas of freezer-friendly meal ideas for new moms, be sure to see last week's post sharing my Favorite Freezer Meals to Make Before a New Baby.