I have been working to stock up our freezer with some easy to re-heat foods for after the Baby is born. In our usual daily lives I am often exhausted by planning a meal, shopping for ingredients, prepping it all, and cooking. Throw a new Baby into the mix, and “exhausted” won’t quite cover it. Not to mention how preoccupied I will be with getting breastfeeding on track, giving my 4-year-old enough attention, changing diapers, and just getting to know the newest member of the family. (Including hours of staring at the little face, tiny feet, miniature hands…)
In my search for items to make and stock, I have come across tons of articles and blog posts with recommendations, including suggestions for what guests should bring when visiting families with a New Baby. These lists are great, and have been helpful. (I never would have thought to make a big batch of homemade breakfast sandwiches to freeze on my own.) However, there seems to be one thing all of these lists have in common: casserole, casserole, casserole.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I absolutely love a good casserole. They can be the ultimate comfort food. There is currently one in my freezer. The thing about casseroles however, is that eating them everyday can seem repetitive and, well….mushy. Not to mention the fact that the ingredients are all mixed in together, and not everyone in a family may have the same preferences. For example, Grandma’s chicken casserole with mushrooms? I cannot get enough of mushrooms, but my husband and son can’t stand them. Broccoli Alfredo? The grownups in this house would gobble that up. The resident 4-year-old wouldn’t even be in the same room.
Casseroles are easy to freeze and reheat, and economical. They are often delicious. But too many casseroles is not a good thing.
Another consideration, is that not everyone cooks. Many people want to bring food to new parents, knowing how helpful it is, but don’t know what to make, or how to make it. And choosing a random recipe on a whim, especially for someone else, can backfire.
For this reason, I made a list of ideas for food items that are almost always surefire winners. Some require a bit of cooking or baking, some require none at all. Some your could even pick up on your way there at the last-minute, when the parents say “Hey the Baby is all fed and we are dressed, now is finally a good time.” If you find yourself wondering what to bring to parents with a new Baby, perhaps this list can take away some of the guessing or stress.
Ideas for Food to Bring to New Parents:
~Gift certificates to local restaurants. Especially places in close proximity to the family, especially if you know they like to eat there. Bonus points for places that deliver.
~Call and ask what staple items the family might need. Eggs, bread, milk, butter, peanut butter, coffee…anything they might be low on or out of. You’ll save them a trip to the store.
~If they have an older child, bring healthy snacks or treats for them. The child will feel special, the parents will be delighted that you gave their older kid some special attention, and if the treat is healthy, or at least not loaded with junk ingredients, it will cause no extra stress for them. Some ideas: a box of animal crackers or goldfish crackers, organic yogurt in a tube, juice boxes or pouches with no added sugar or food coloring, little packs of raisins, fruit cups sweetened only with fruit juice, freeze-dried fruit, snap-pea crisps, etc. You could even go one step further, and have a little tea party with the older child(ren), while you share the snack you brought.
~Stop at a local bakery and pick up a half-dozen bagels. Bring cream cheese or flavored butter.
~Make some homemade granola, or pick up a bag at the grocery store or farmer’s market. Include a jug of milk or some yogurt, and bring orange juice.
~Bring a fruit platter, or make a fruit salad with washed and prepped seasonal fruits.
~Make a batch of fresh oatmeal cookies, or grab some of the giant, chewy ones at a local bakery. Or, make up a batch of your favorite cookie dough, roll it into balls, and freeze them. The family can bake them up a few at a time or all at once if they want to. If you really want to go the extra mile in the cookie department, bake up a batch of lactation cookies for a nursing Mama. There are many recipes out there, here is one you could try. And don’t worry, partners and other kids can eat them too, despite the name.
~Bring a batch of muffins, scones, or cinnamon buns, and then fix everyone a cup of tea.
~Call ahead and take everyone’s drink order from a local cafe: coffee, tea, smoothies, etc. Consider adding a small gift certificate for the next time they need caffeination.
~Bring a big salad. Consider adding ingredients for extra nutrition such as nuts, chickpeas, olives, or grilled chicken. Include dressing and a side of crusty bread.
~Quiche with a side salad.
~Tortilla chips and salsa. Bonus points if the salsa is homemade, but not necessary. (People forget about snacks.)
~The fixings to make tacos. Prepare the meat or beans ahead of time, and put them in a container. Bring with tortillas or shells, an avocado, tomato, cheese, greens, and a side of sour cream.
~The fixings to make french bread pizzas. Bring a loaf of french bread, a container of pizza sauce, mozzarella, and a few toppings. Each member of the family can make their own mini pizza just the way they like. This is especially good if there are older siblings who might be picky.
~Grab a rotisserie chicken, some mashed potatoes, and steam-in-the-bag veggies.
~Make homemade mac n’ cheese, and a roasted vegetable, and deliver in oven-safe containers for reheating.
~Soup and a side of biscuits.
~Grab a container of hummus, some pita bread, and some carrot sticks/celery/raw broccoli, etc. (Seriously, people always forget about snacks.)
~Speaking of snacks: cheese and crackers, homemade trail mix, fancy popcorn, baked fruit or veggie chips such as kale or apple, or protein/granola bars.
If you have ever stressed over what to bring when visiting friends or family with a new Baby, perhaps this list can serve as inspiration. And possibly save them from a pile of casseroles.