This is it, y’all. Can I claim it? Can I claim this as the ULTIMATE guide for bringing food to a new mom? I can already tell this is going to be a doozy of a post. As I was creating the outline for this, I could tell that there was going to be a lot of information in here, but I’m hopeful this will be incredibly helpful and that it’ll cover every base to consider when it comes to planning food to bring to a family with a new baby. What you’re about to do – take care of a family who is up to their eyeballs with taking care of a new baby – is a huge blessing and so very, very appreciated. I know the food you provide will be received with grateful hearts!
As a new mom myself, this content was fairly fresh on my mind, and I also asked several others who graciously chimed in with their thoughts as well. If you were one of those people who pitched in some helpful thoughts, thank you for offering up your advice to equip others to serve sleep-deprived (and likely shower-deprived) families who love not having to prepare food during a crazy season of life!
Before I get to the tips, here’s a little message from our sponsor (i.e. my sappy heart):
Hospitality Beyond Our Homes
I absolutely love hospitality, particularly when it comes to having people over in my home. However, hospitality comes in many forms, and I think one of those forms is us going to someone else to meet their need where they are. The Good Samaritan found the hurting Jewish man on the side of the road and met his need beyond the walls of his (the Samaritan’s) home. The Samaritan “went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him” (Luke 10: 34, emphasis mine). When you are bringing a meal to a family with a new baby, you are bringing hospitality to them. You are personally delivering the love and care of Jesus. You are serving them and meeting them where they are, and believe me, the need is there! Each generation of new babies is a generation that will change the world – they’re the future scientists, teachers, moms & dads, politicians, engineers, authors, and artists. Let’s fuel their parents with the energy they need to raise those little world-changers!
Here’s What You’ll Find In This Post
First, you’ll find a list of tips that are fairly comprehensive in covering things you’d want to consider when bringing a meal to a new mom. Several of these tips come from what I’ve learned as I’ve delivered meals to new moms, from my experience being a (very thankful) recipient of food as a new mom, and from several friends who offered their thoughts of ideas that have been incredibly helpful for them upon bringing home a new baby. Hopefully these tips will help you as you plan to be a huge blessing to a family who greatly appreciates your gift of hospitality brought to their doorstep!
Second, after the list of tips, continue reading for detailed ideas of food to consider bringing to a new mom, as well as thoughts on the logistics of delivering it to that new mom and her family.
As you read through all of these thoughts below, keep in mind that this post is purely full of suggestions. The fact that you want to serve a family with a new baby is a beautiful thing. Please don’t take these as 20 rules you have to follow in order to successfully serve a new mom. These tips are only intended to be helpful and to bolster your efforts, not hinder or intimidate them.
Helpful Tips for Bringing Food to a New Mom
- Disposable Containers
Make sure you bring everything in containers you don’t need returned to you – disposable containers or plastic containers that the family can throw in the dishwasher and store with their other containers. This is a biggie.
- Yummy Leftovers
As you’re planning the food, think about food that makes good leftovers. As the mom of a newborn (both times), I was eating around the clock. I may have eaten supper at 6:30pm, but I was hungry again at midnight when I was up and moving around trying to get a baby to fall back asleep. It was so nice to reheat food that we didn’t finish for supper to have as a literal midnight snack.
- Healthy Options
Don’t get me wrong, that pan of triple cheesy, gooey lasagna was AMAZING (and totally devoured), but sometimes healthier options are so desired by families with new babies. They need all the fuel they can get for working around the clock trying to keep that baby happy & healthy! Consider bringing a dish that’s lightened-up a bit, or perhaps a big garden or fruit salad to go along with the main dish.
- Easy Prep
Bring food that’s easy for the family to prepare and eat. Something they can eat right away (and that doesn’t require them to do much work to get it from containers to plates), or something they can very easily reheat and eat.
- Consider Bringing Plasticware/Paperware
This certainly isn’t a requirement (and isn’t expected), but I bet it’d be a nice bonus to bring along some sturdy paper plates & plastic forks/knives along with your meal, that way the family doesn’t have to do any dishes after their meal. Just one less thing to worry about!
- Portioned-Out Food
Maybe you’ve decided to bring freezer-friendly breakfast tacos, muffins, pancakes, or mini chicken pot pies. Think about packaging these up in such a way that they can be stored in the freezer and then taken out just a portion at a time to reheat whenever the family wants to eat them.
- Write the Name of the Dish + Reheating/Cooking Instructions on the Package
If you’re bringing soup in a container for them to freeze and reheat, write “Sweet Potato Chili” on the lid. That way, when they store it in the freezer and a couple of weeks go by before they need to pull out an emergency freezer meal, they can easily be reminded what’s in that container. If you’re bringing a casserole that needs to be baked, prep it in an aluminum pan, cover it with foil, and then write on the foil with a permanent marker what the heating instructions are. “Shepherd’s Pie. Bake at 350, uncovered, for 45 minutes.”
- Leave a Note
Being a new parent is challenging! A kind word goes a long way. “You’ve got this! God knew exactly what He was doing when He made you the parent of your sweet baby!” Also, another friend of mine said she leaves a note for the new mom telling her NOT to send her a thank-you note for bringing a meal. I thought that was so clever! I enjoy sending thank you notes, but when you’ve got that new baby around, sometimes having the freedom to just send a quick text of, “Thanks! It was SO delish!” instead of writing out a note to put in the mail is soooo nice.
- Little Gift for Older Kids
Another friend of mine made this recommendation, and I thought this was super sweet! This is another one of those “totally-not- necessary-but-super-appreciated” gestures, but consider bringing a small, inexpensive gift for the older kids in the family (who probably aren’t getting anywhere near the attention the new baby is getting). If the parents already have a 2-year-old and a 4-year-old, maybe bring a little sheet of stickers, a coloring book, some Play Doh, a bottle of bubbles, or an activity book for them. We’re talking simple, and you know what? Simple goes a long way. It’s the thought that counts. Some people did this for my older daughter (who was 2 when my younger daughter was born), and it was SO sweet and thoughtful!
- Consider Leaving Food on the Front Porch
Yet again another recommendation from a friend of mine. It’s an understatement to say that there is no schedule with a newborn. Those babies have no idea the difference between noon and midnight! Hopefully that family is sleeping any chance they can get, which might mean they’re sneaking naps at odd hours. Maybe the family is up for visitors and is craving human interaction as folks drop off food, but maybe sometimes they just need to sleep. Consider offering to leave food on the front porch that the family can grab when they wake up from that coveted cat nap.
- Bring Dessert
I know this might seem to contradict my earlier recommendation of considering healthier options, but believe me, even though I loved eating fresh fruit or a gigantic salad postpartum, I definitely never turned down brownies. My sweet tooth was ravenous those early days of having a baby at home. I don’t think anyone will ever be upset if you bring cookies along with your meal.
- Confirm Your Drop-Off
Sometimes new moms forget things (or maybe it’s just me?). Think about sending a quick text earlier in the day to remind her that you’re going to drop off the food at 5:30pm, and then send her a text when you’re actually on your way. It was so helpful for me to know when folks were on their way, just so I could figure out when I needed to try to wrap up nursing, and especially so I could take care of my dog who barks REALLY loudly at the front door. My husband always took our dog out to greet our visitors when they arrived to avoid him barking like crazy, so it was nice to have a heads up on around what time they were going to get there.
- Confirm the Number of People Who are Eating
While you’re certainly not expected to provide food for the new mom and her entire extended family, sometimes it’s nice to be able to prep enough food for an additional mouth or two, just in case the family might have some help, maybe from a mom or sister, who would enjoy sitting down and eating with them while helping to care for the baby.
- Verify Allergies/Food Sensitivities/Dislikes
Verify any foods you might need to avoid when prepping a meal (I don’t usually encounter this problem too much, but if I can help avoid a food – like gluten or dairy – that a family can’t have, then I want to do that!). I personally didn’t encounter issues with foods I ate affecting either of my newborns as I nursed them, but I know some moms really have to avoid certain things while they’re nursing, so think about doing a quick check-in with the mom on foods she might be avoiding those early days of nursing. I believe the sites that help set up care calendars such as caringmeals.com & mealtrain.com have fields that a family can fill out regarding their allergies/sensitivities.
Now that we’ve covered some of these helpful tips, let’s dive more deeply into the types of food to bring and how to bring it!
Before You Sign Up
Before you sign up for that meal calendar, consider a few things:
- Consider what category of food you’re going to bring – A main dish? Breakfast? Snack food? A gift card for food?
- Consider the food needs of the family – Do they have any food allergies or sensitivities? Any foods they really don’t care to eat? (Or any foods they just absolutely love? Brownies, please!) Do they have additional kids who’ll be part of a family meal? Do they have someone (like a mother or mother-in-law) staying with them to help care for the baby who also needs to be fed?
- Consider time and limitations of the family – Do they have young kids who need to eat early/go to bed early? Do they have toddlers who take afternoon naps (and so, for the love, please don’t ring a doorbell at 2pm)?
- Consider your limitations and try to tailor your food delivery around them – Maybe you also have young kids who need to eat supper really early or have older kids who you are running every which way to after school activities, and thus you’re limited in your ability to bring a hot, ready-to-eat meal promptly at 6pm to someone’s doorstep. Maybe the new mom lives on the opposite side of town from you, so you’re needing to bring her a meal as you’re running errands in that direction. Recognize that you might have some limitations that you need to navigate around, and that’s ok! You can cater your food delivery (pun totally intended) to them – maybe you need to drop some food off around 10am that the family can eat later that evening or the following day. No big deal!
What to Bring: Main Dish? Breakfast? Snacks? Gift Card to Local Eatery?
Ok, let’s get to the good stuff! Below are suggestions for each category of food you might consider bringing: a main dish, breakfast, snacks, or gift cards to close-by restaurants that a family can use on their own time when they run out of leftovers (for those coveted Chick-fil-A spicy chicken sandwiches & frosted coffees, ammiright?).
A main dish, particularly for evening meals, is the most conventional type of food to bring to a new mom, but I want to break down this category to help you think about some options for bringing a dish for supper. If you’re wanting to bring a main dish, you could:
- Bring a meal that you’ve prepared and you’re bringing it to the family hot and ready for them to eat right away
- Bring a meal that you’ve prepared earlier and can be stored in the family’s refrigerator (for that day or until the following day) until the family is ready to eat it
- Bring a meal that you’ve assembled/prepared that is frozen and can be prepared by the family either by: 1) Putting it directly in the oven, 2) Putting it directly in their slow cooker, or 3) Emptying its contents (like a soup, stew, or chili) into a large pot to thaw and warm on the stove top.
Ok, let’s talk main dishes!
- Prepared main dishes that you’re bringing ready to eat
The options for this category are basically endless – any kind of casserole, stew/soup/chili, steamed meat & veggies, pot roast, stuff to assemble for tacos, pasta & sauce, main dish salads, etc. If you’re bringing something ready for them to eat, the main logistic to think about is considering a meal option that transports well (i.e. won’t get soggy from your house to theirs). We had all sorts of variety when people brought us food both times we had a newborn at our house, and for the most part, we ate those meals the day our friends/family delivered them. (More on how to package these options up below.)
- Casseroles – Lasagna, King Ranch Chicken, Chicken Tetrazzini, Enchiladas, Baked Ziti, Shepherd’s Pie, etc.
- Stew/Soup/Chili – Beef Stew, White Chicken Chili, Pumpkin Chili, Sweet Potato Chili, and all kinds of soups.
- Meat & Veggies – Roasted Chicken & Veggies, Pot Roast with Potatoes & Carrots, Stir Fry, etc.
- Pasta & Sauce – Spaghetti & Meatballs, Fettuccine Alfredo, Beef Stroganoff, etc.
- Main Dish Salads – Cobb Salad, Pasta Salad, Chef’s Salad, etc.
- Base + Toppings – Foods such as baked potatoes, tacos, gyros, etc.
- Prepared main dish for the family to eat later that day/the following day
Perhaps you’ve signed up to bring a meal, but the family receiving that meal doesn’t necessarily need to eat it right away (maybe they have leftovers they want to finish from the meal brought to them the day before, or maybe they want to save the meal you’re bringing for them to have for lunch the following day). What do you bring? Basically anything in that list above, just make sure you’re delivering it in containers that make it really easy to reheat – a casserole in a foil pan that can easily go in the oven, soup that can be easily poured into a large saucepan and placed on the stove, etc.
- An assembled/prepared freezer meal that can be thawed & reheated/cooked in a slow cooker whenever it’s needed
Sometimes those meal calendars for new moms only run for a few weeks, but cooking doesn’t get much easier until that newborn isn’t a newborn anymore. If a new mom has been blessed with a ton of hot meals those early weeks of having her baby, maybe what she needs most from you is a meal that she can store in her freezer to have when she’s not regularly receiving those hot, freshly-delivered meals from family, friends, and neighbors. Or, maybe a new mom has some help – her mom, mother-in-law, or other help staying with her immediately following the birth of her child – who is available to prepare meals those early days. But, that help won’t always be there, so having something she can just thaw and reheat/cook in the slow cooker is probably a HUGE gift once she’s on her own!
Tips for bringing main dishes:
- Reusable containers – As with any food you bring, for the love of all things good, bring your food in reusable containers that YOU DON’T NEED RETURNED TO YOU.
- Packaging – Not sure what kind of packaging to use? Use foil (oven-safe) pans for casseroles, large resealable plastic bowls and/or plastic vacuum bags for soups/stews, or if you’re going to freeze a soup/stew, you could pour it into a regular gallon freezer zipper bag and then freeze it. (Don’t bring soup in a gallon bag UNLESS you’re going to bring it frozen. Too much of a chance for a mess in transport!)
If you’re bringing ingredients for a fresh salad, put lettuce, veggies, and dressing in separate containers. You can put the greens in one large plastic baggie, the chopped veggies for topping the salad in another small zipper baggie, and the dressing in a small mason jar or a small resealable plastic container.
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(I love my vacuum sealer – I have used it zillions of times to store soups, stews, and sauces that I’ve prepped for my freezer for us to have on hand, but also to bring food to someone else. I LOVE this machine!)
- Separate items from each other – Unless you’re bringing a one-pot meal (like a pot roast with veggies), separate things out. If you’re bringing a casserole with a salad and some rolls, put the rolls in one plastic baggie/container, the lettuce in another baggie/container, the toppings for the salad in another, and the casserole in a disposable foil pan. This will help keep everything fresh! If you’re bringing stuff for tacos, put the prepared taco meat in a foil pan, the tortillas in a baggie, and all of the toppings (cheese, pico de gallo, guacamole, sour cream, shredded lettuce, etc.) in separate baggies or containers.
- Bring variety – I try to cover the basics when I’m bringing a meal to someone: a main dish + some kind of veggies, perhaps some kind of bread, and a dessert. If I’m bringing a one-pot meal (especially a meal that I’ve prepped and frozen for the family to store in their freezer and then cook in their slow cooker), I really try to make sure it has protein and veggies in it.
Perhaps a family is set on food for evening meals – either they have enough from others bringing them meals, they have enough meals in their freezer that they made themselves before the baby came, or they have more help in the evenings for preparing meals – but could really use some help with breakfast. Sometimes breakfast really is the hardest meal, especially if a new mom has a newborn + a toddler or two at home who also expect to eat something when they wake up for the day.
Here are some great breakfast ideas to consider:
- Freezer breakfast burritos and/or breakfast sandwiches – you can easily make a batch of burritos with eggs, cheese, beans, peppers, sausage/bacon, etc. or sandwiches using biscuits or English muffins that you can individually wrap in foil and bring. The new mama can then just take out the number of burritos/sandwiches she wants to heat up for herself/other kiddo(s), unwrap them, and zap them in the microwave for easy consumption.
- A pre-made breakfast casserole. (Y’all, this is the breakfast casserole I make ALL THE TIME and I cannot even tell you how many compliments I get on it – I give out this recipe left and right. It is absolutely delicious and makes fantastic leftovers for DAYS. You can also freeze it after baking it & easily thaw and reheat it. It’s still delicious even after being frozen and thawed. OH! And it’s pretty healthy and has tons of protein. Win, win, win.)
- A fruit tray or fruit salad (chopped up fruit would have been like GOLD to me as a mom with a new baby! I always have fresh fruit in my house, but when both of my daughters were newborns, I found it to be very difficult to chop up that fruit in order to easily munch on it when I wanted it.)
- Muffins/scones that can easily be frozen and thawed. Same concept – food that can be portioned out and consumed whenever needed!
- Fruit & yogurt parfaits (with granola on the side so it doesn’t get soggy)
- Pancakes or waffles that can be easily frozen and portioned out – there are several recipes on Pinterest for freezer-friendly pancake and waffle recipes. Mom can just take out a few blueberry banana pancakes for herself and her other munchkin(s), throw them in the microwave, and eat ’em up!
Consider a combination of some of these – it’s wonderful to have a protein option + a fruit to go along with it. And, I mean, I will never turn down a muffin…or 4…
Like breakfast, snacks are probably the most overlooked yet TOTALLY desired food category for a new mom! Several people mentioned this as a desired food when they were new moms, and I know for me, it wasn’t so much the meals that intimidated me (I had frozen dozens of meals that I had made ahead of time before both of my daughters were born), it was the snacks – I wanted healthy, filling, tasty options, and those are hard to come by when you don’t really have the ability to run to the store for fresh ingredients and when you don’t have the time to stand at a counter and chop things up into easy-to-consume bites.
Plus, those early days of nursing…I was hungry all. the. time. We’re talking the appetite of a 16-year-old linebacker. And, snacks are huge for a new mom if she has any other kiddos she needs to feed. To be able to pull a healthy, ready-to-eat option from the fridge or pantry (or have items available for kiddos to get for themselves if they’re old enough) to tie over a kiddo until mealtime is so helpful. Have I convinced you, yet, that snacks are so awesome to bring?! You’ll easily make it to someone’s favorite list if you bring them a variety of them! Check with the new mama and see if she might benefit more from some no-prep, easy snacks to have on hand instead of a meal.
Here are some snack ideas:
- Cut-up veggies/veggie tray + dip (hummus, ranch, etc.)
- Cold cuts, crackers, cubed and/or string cheese – a friend of mine mentioned that someone brought her a tray of homemade “lunchables” – just easy-to-consume-whenever-she-was-hungry food for lunch, and I thought that was a brilliant idea! I definitely had blocks of cheese in my fridge that we could cut up and snack on, but having them already cut up and delivered to me – wow, now you’re speaking my love language!
- A pre-made fruit tray or fruit salad
- Yogurt/granola parfaits
- Individual containers of applesauce, yogurt, raisins, crackers, fruit cups, etc. for older kiddos
- Nuts – almonds, pecans, cashews, walnuts, etc.
- Trail mix
- Smoothie packets – this is perhaps a little unconventional, and I would definitely run this by a mom before you brought this, but maybe preparing some ziplock baggies with ingredients for individual smoothies (frozen fruit, cubes of Greek yogurt that you’ve frozen, chia seeds, spinach) & a container of orange juice or almond milk for her to just toss in her blender would be really helpful!
GIFT CARDS TO CLOSE-BY RESTAURANTS/FOOD DELIVERY
Again, this is another unconventional idea, but this may also sometimes be the most useful option for a new mom. If you give her a gift card to a local restaurant (make sure it’s one that does takeout or has a drive through!), she can use it whenever she needs it. Maybe a new mom has been home for 2 weeks and needs to get out of the house but can’t be out for long – she can run through the drive through and pick up her favorite salad and milkshake? Or her husband can take the gift card with him and swing by to pick up supper on his way home from work?
Or, instead of a gift card, perhaps order food delivered to them on a night when they don’t have leftovers, don’t have anyone signed up to bring food for that evening, and are craving food from their favorite local place but can’t get out of the house. Or, perhaps you live far away from your friend who just had her baby and you really want to provide some food for them but can’t be there in person to drop it by yourself. Food delivery! Some friends of ours who live pretty far out of town had pizza delivered to us soon after our 2nd daughter was born. What a treat! A friend of mine mentioned UberEATS – someone used that method to get her food when she became a new mom, and that was so helpful!
Y’all, seriously, this is a GREAT option for you to show a new mom some love, even if you’re limited on time and resources to prep something and deliver it yourself!
A couple of ladies commented how helpful (and special) it was for them to be treated to a restaurant postpartum, and this is a great and fuss-free option if you’re wanting to do something but don’t have the means or the time to prep something homemade. The love is definitely still there behind it, and I guarantee you it’s so appreciated!
And in this same vein, I had a dear friend (hi, Lisa!) who brought us breakfast from a local eatery – she brought a conglomeration of foods (some pastries, breakfast tacos, fruit cups, etc.) and some hot coffees for each of us (bless you, Lisa!) to enjoy when she came by for a visit. She’s the mom of a busy one-year old (read: preparing hot food to bring while you’re also trying to pack to get out of the house with a toddler is NOT easy), so when she and her son came to see us and meet my newest daughter, she made her visit easier on herself by letting a local cafe do all of the work, and it was so, so fun to have a variety of foods that we could both just spread out on my kitchen table and enjoy together with our kiddos.
Ok, y’all! What did I forget to include on here?! Please comment below so I can add to this list – I want this to be as comprehensive and helpful as possible! If you have any questions about particular dishes to bring and how to package them, leave a comment below and I’ll be sure to respond!