Meals for New Moms

When Bugaboo was born, we were not on any meal plans through our church or networks.  A few relatives brought over some food, and my mom helped make several freezer meals to get us through those tough first weeks.  Perhaps because we didn’t have much help in the way of meals, I realized how important it can be to have food brought over after the birth of a baby.  If a meal took more than two steps to prepare (throwing it in the oven and dishing it out), I didn’t want to waste time on cooking.

So when the first of my new found mom friends gave birth, I made sure to be put on her meal schedule through Take Them A Meal.  What I didn’t expect was being added to a list of all the new moms at her parish.  Within a few weeks, I had received two more meal requests for people I had never met.  After discussing our options, my husband and I decided to contribute meals to all these new moms.  Soon I was averaging a meal every three weeks!

Lessons Learned

Some of the women had dietary restrictions like no gluten, no dairy, or no eggs – often multiple restrictions for the same family!  I had to get creative preparing those meals, especially in trying to think of desserts.  One night I made banana brownies to test for a dairy free, egg free house.  I’m so glad we decided to practice ahead of time – they were awful, and we ended up eating the fruits of my labor over the next week.  I learned to free myself of the chocolate dessert stereotype – for a dairy free dessert, I could give an apple (or other fruit) pie!

Although I’m still on the lookout for new recipes and ideas, I have finally gotten the new mom meal plan to a science.  I have ideas for variations on dietary restrictions.  One goal I have is to come up with a good dairy free meal that a new mom can freeze.  That way if she needs to test whether her baby may have a milk intolerance, she has a meal to go to as she phases out dairy (which can take a few weeks to fully leave the system).  However, if you want to give a mom a freezable meal, tell her ahead of time so she knows she isn’t going to have a freshly cooked dinner the day you are scheduled.

Great Meals for Moms

Main Dishes

Unfortunately I have  a lot of chicken dishes, and I’m sure the families receiving the meals get tired of chicken.  One dish I specifically leave off this list is lasagna – I think every new mom is going to get at least one pan of lasagna because it’s so easy to make, transport, and even freeze!

  • Parmesan chicken and rice
  • Pulled pork – dairy free and egg free – this is such an easy meal to make.  Simply put a pork roast in the crock pot, cover with barbeque sauce, and let sit.  Dairy free hamburger buns are easy to find!
  • Beef stroganoff with rice
  • Roast pork – gluten and dairy free.  You can find a recipe for roast pork, but it is easy to make without one.  Combine a little salt, garlic, and other spices to taste with some olive oil to make a pasty rub.  Coat the outside of the pork with the rub and roast in the oven until 155 degrees in the center!
  • BBQ chicken – gluten and dairy free.  This is a great summer meal!  I take chicken legs, cover them with foil, and roast them in the oven for about an hour.  Once they have cooled, smear barbecue sauce all over them.  I had my husband grill them for me so the barbecue sauce is nice and crispy on the outside!
  • Chicken pot pie – You can make this dairy free by using shortening for the crust and finding a recipe for the sauce that doesn’t include butter.
  • Meatloaf – a great dairy free option.  Add your favorite starch (rolls or potatoes) and some cooked vegetables!
  • Chili – Don’t forget cornbread or crackers, cheese, and even sour cream for toppings.  Make it on the less spicy side if the family has younger children.
  • Soups and stews – We like potato and tortilla soup.  You could also make a soup for a side or meatless option, such as broccoli cheese soup.
  • Beef burrito bake
  • Shepherd’s Pie

I cook a double portion of the main dish and use it to feed our family for the week.  As I test out new recipes in my own house, I have the ability to add to this list.

Sides

  • Always include a bag of lettuce to make a side salad
  • Chop up whatever fruit is in season to make a fruit salad
  • I have found Jell-O to be a good side to help bulk up a gluten free, dairy free meal.  I add bananas to my Jell-O for a little extra fruit.
  • Roasted potatoes – gluten free and dairy free.  I dice potatoes into small cubes and then toss with olive oil and Season All.  You can either roast them in the oven by spreading them over foil on a cookie sheet or sauté them in a frying pan (which is what I tend to do) until soft.
  • Another potato option that travels well is scalloped potatoes
  • Pasta salad – dairy free.  I cook an entire box of rotini pasta and add chopped vegetables of whatever’s in season.  I like to add tomato every time.  In addition, I will buy a bag of frozen broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots and steam them just a little.  Then I add them to the salad in small pieces.  Cover with Italian dressing to taste (not an entire bottle, that will be too much).  You can buy gluten free pasta, but I found it doesn’t taste well with the Italian dressing.
  • Steamed veggies – just grab a bag of frozen veggies and reheat.  Add a little cheese for flavor if the family isn’t dairy free.
  • Corn on the cob – gluten free
  • Bread – depending on the meal: rolls, crescent rolls, or cornbread.

Desserts

  • My go to dessert is chocolate chip cookies – I can make a batch and save extra cookie dough or cookies for myself.  Roll the dough into balls and then freeze them.  You can cook exactly the right number at any given time.  Cookies transport easily, too, in a gallon sized freezer bag.
  • If the family is larger I like to make cupcakes or brownies, mostly because I always have a stash of mixes in my basement that I need to rotate!
  • As mentioned before, a good dairy free option is a fruit pie
  • If the family has other children, I throw in a few ice pops.  We get these at the beginning of the summer at Menard’s for pennies each.  They also add some fun if I’m struggling for a dessert for a gluten free family.
  • It’s hard to feed a gluten free family dessert.  We found some prepackaged cookies at Aldi that are gluten free, dairy free, etc.

Additional Goodies

Consider making or providing breakfast: bagels, muffins, oatmeal packets, or a breakfast bake.

Prepare some healthy snacks the mom can grab and eat.  Here are my tips for snacking while a new mom!

If the mom is breastfeeding, make some lactation cookies to help with her supply!

If You Feel Lazy

For some meals I realized I was spending over $20 per meal!  Of course, that amount often covered enough food for leftovers the next day.  However, I thought, “You could just as easily give a gift card to McDonald’s or grab some take out for that price!”  Well, if your new mom has dietary restrictions, that may be the answer for you!  Wendy’s food, unless otherwise posted, is soy and dairy free!  Taco Bell also offers some good dairy free options.  If you can’t come up with a good meal to take, call up the new mom and get her Wendy’s order – you can feed a lot of people just with the 4 for $4 menu!

Saving Money

If you are going to be making a lot of meals, invest in bulk containers, like a 25 pack of aluminum pans from Amazon or check out bulk packaging at a warehouse store like Sam’s or Costco.  If possible, make the meal for your family as well so you can purchase the food in bulk.  Take advantage of meat sales, and then find a recipe that will help you rotate your supply.  I even double up on families – perhaps I take a new mom food in her first week and another in her sixth week so that I can overlap the drop off day and cook in bulk!

It Keeps On Going

By making meals for new moms, I finally was able to find a way to help out and give back that worked for me as a mom.  I can cook at night after the baby goes to bed, and Bugaboo comes with me for the drop off.  Recently I discovered a group at my church that cooks meals for the local homeless shelter.  Although I cannot go to the shelter to serve the meals, I can help out by preparing the meals at home and dropping them off.  The best part about this new opportunity is that it exposes me to even more recipes and meal ideas that are easy to pre-cook and transport.

I also love the side effect of preparing meals for new moms – a house full of good food for my family to eat!  It’s so nice to have an entire meal planned out and shopped for, especially when that meal includes freshly made chocolate chip cookies!

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