Having Eli was the first time I had ever been on the receiving end of meals. I had brought many a meal to friends and family for sickness, new babies, and even just a busy season of life, but I had never been on the other side. Prior to Eli, I had never given much thought to how I delivered the meals, I just whipped up what I thought was a pretty decent meal and dropped it off. But after having more than 30 meals delivered after Eli was born, I learned there are about a million ways to deliver a meal and I picked up a few awesome tips and tricks for how I'd like to do mine in the future.
While I don't think there's a wrong way to deliver a meal, there are a few things you can do to make that meal extra special for a new mom. By no means should feel you need to do everything on this list - new moms are NOT picky or expecting anything special, they're just grateful for the meal! Think of this like a menu, lots of options for you to pick from, but again, there's no wrong or right way to do it.
The Basics: Let's start with the basics. If you've never brought a meal over to someone else's house, here's what you need to know.
- Most new parents (or a friend of the new parents) organize their meal deliveries by using email or a free online service, like MealBaby or The Meal Stork. As you're deciding what to bring, if it's not listed it in the main message, text or email the new parent to find out if they have any food allergies or if the mother is nursing and avoiding certain foods.
- Package all the food in disposable containers - new moms have already lost about half of their memory, it's hard to remember to return a dish! Don't worry about buying fancy disposable containers (unless it's an oven dish of course). Feel free to use whatever you have on hand, yogurt tubs, sour cream containers, etc. New moms definitely don't care.
- If you're planning on having the family heat up the food (like baking a casserole) be sure to include instructions for temperature, timing, etc.
- Obviously the biggest thing to remember is packaging the food well so it doesn't spill on the car ride over. I've had many a meal make a mess in the car before I got there. Whoop.
- Consider putting your meal in a pretty basket. It makes bringing it into the house super easy, and baskets can always be put to good use around a new mom's house to hide burp cloths, diapers and toys.
- One thing I appreciated was when people brought over smaller sized portions for meals. It was great to have a small amount of leftovers for lunches the next day, but when new parents are receiving a lot of meals, sometimes leftovers can go uneaten. Instead of bringing over an entire 9x13 dish, consider splitting it in two portions so your family can eat the other half for their supper, or freeze it to eat later. I also liked it when people brought over a small bag of chips and threw salsa in a disposable tuppaware, instead of feeling like they had to give us entire bags of things. Plus, it saves you money!
- Put toppings/extras in separate containers. I once had a mom make us a cobb salad and she threw all the toppings in different containers - I loved it! It helped the salad to last a lot longer than if she had assembled and dressed it first.
Delivery Time: There are a few different times you can deliver your meal to a new parent - I personally liked having it switch up each time, so we saw a nice variety. Just remember to contact one of the parents to be sure what you're thinking works with their schedule.
- Some of my fellow stay-at-home moms would swing by earlier in the day, throwing the meal in the fridge for me to heat up later. This was a great way for them to avoid rush hour and nap times, and for me to get to tell them all the gory details about birth without Mike having to hear it a million times.
- Some people chose to drop the meal off warm, and stay for about a half hour to meet Eli, then go on their way.
- Still others brought enough food for all of us to eat dinner together and get a chance to talk. After a long day home alone with a newborn, I actually loved having company over for dinner. Especially because I didn't have to lift a finger.
Think Beyond Dinner:
- One of Mike and I's favorite "meals" was actually a bag of groceries brought over by our neighbors the day after we came home from the hospital. They included fresh fruit, eggs, bacon, hashbrowns, fancy granola and more. It worked great because our meals hadn't started yet and since my mom was home, she was able to fix us some fun breakfasts.
- Lunches are okay too! On the weekend, we had a couple people bring lunches. It was a nice switch up from the regular dinner meal, and sometimes it just works better with people's schedules.
- This is definitely above and beyond, but a few people included scones or muffins with their meal for us to eat the next morning. It made getting waking up (errr...staying up?) so much easier as a new parent when we knew there was a treat waiting for us.
Desserts and Drinks:
- Desserts are always good, but I loved it when people only included a few cookies or bars, rather than an entire batch. I was trying to lose the baby weight, not gain it!
- Another great dessert people would throw in was a pint of ice cream or gelato - that way if we had desserts left over from a previous meal, we could throw it in the freezer for another night.
- For drinks, some fun ones we received were Izzys and Jone's Soda. And beer for Mike and wine for me of course. :)
The Extras: Definitely not a necessity, but certainly a thoughtful touch to add to your meal.
- Gift card to a coffee shop (That has a drive through!)
- A bag of coffee beans or grounds
- A favorite parenting book, or gag parenting book (Mike received this one and loved it.)
- Swaddle blanket, stocking hat or onesie for the new babe
- A favorite children's book
Alright, those are my tips! How about you guys? Do you have any to share?