After my second child was born my family was fortunate enough to have a village of mom friends and families offer to bring us meals. I didn’t have to cook a single thing for over two weeks and honestly, as a postpartum mom, it was the greatest gift I could have asked for. I am truly looking forward to paying it forward in the months to come with all of my expectant mama friends.
That being said, there were some thoughtful things that really went above and beyond, that can make that meal extra special for your postpartum friend.
Have a Plan
If you’re organizing a meal train for a large group, there are websites that help you plan who is bringing food on which day, what they’re bringing and when, as well as listing all of the family’s specifics such as contact info, address, and dietary restrictions. Be sure to ask your postpartum friend when the family usually eats dinner, or when they would like their meal delivered.
Bring a whole meal
– and don’t forget dessert! Your postpartum friend and their families are both starving and exhausted, so anything you bring over will be appreciated and devoured. That being said, it was such an appreciated, caring extra touch when people thought to bring over a whole, planned-out meal. For example, if you are bringing a casserole, consider a salad as well. The bagged ones from the grocery store are perfect! You can even add some bread, garlic bread, or other appropriate side. And y’all, don’t forget dessert! The first time I unpacked a meal delivery and saw cookies at the bottom I just about cried. Literal icing on the cake.
Bring something that can be frozen/saved for later
Having a planned meal train and knowing that someone was going to be bringing something for dinner every night of the week took such a weight off of our family. However, some people brought us so much food that we couldn’t eat it all, even in a day or two. Consider bringing something that can be easily made into leftovers or frozen, in case your fortunate postpartum friend is swimming in meal deliveries.
Think outside of dinner
The standard meal train fare is often some type of lasagna or casserole, and for good reason! It’s easy to make for a large group, it can be frozen or saved for leftovers, and it’s dang delicious! But if you want to do something different, consider a meal outside the casserole dish.
Fajitas or tacos are an excellent option, as everyone in the family can customize their own meal. Just don’t forget the chips and guac! Sandwiches, similarly, are easily packaged for any large group – a loaf of bread or some yummy bakery rolls, meats, cheeses, condiments, and you’re set!
If you really want to get wild, you can even consider bringing your friend breakfast instead of dinner. We had muffins delivered, which was an excellent treat. Quiches are an easy make now and heat later breakfast. If you know your friend is planning to breastfeed, lactation cookies are also an excellent idea.
Bring something for older siblings
My family is fortunate to have so many in our village who love our toddler as much as we do. It was such a special surprise when we would have dinner delivered and find something small and sweet for our newly promoted big brother. When so much of the attention revolves around the new baby, it makes the older siblings feel so special when someone thinks specifically of them. Things like coloring books, stickers and puzzles were a big hit with our almost 3 year old.
Think before you knock
When it comes down to it, your postpartum friend is probably one of two kinds of people – craving any semblance of outside human interaction, or hermit. I honestly thought that I was the latter, and was grateful that so many of my friends texted to let me know that they left food on my doorstep and would talk to me later.
When that first mama knocked on the door and I saw her waiting outside, dinner in hand, I totally panicked. Did I need to put on a bra? Brush my teeth? Run a comb through my hair? It took me from the couch to my front door to realize that she did not give a crap that I hadn’t washed my face in days and had baby vomit in my hair. She had been where I was now, grateful that someone cared enough to bring over some food in her time of need, and that was all that mattered.
Think about the family you are bringing the food to, what your relationship with them is like, and make a decision from there. But do not, under any circumstances, invite yourself in unless already pre-arranged. Do not ask to see the baby or for a cup of tea or anything that would require this friend who you have so graciously and lovingly brought a meal to do something in return for you. Tell your postpartum friend it’s great to see them, and you’re there if they need anything, and then leave them to gratefully devour your meal.
It is such a blessing to be on both the giving and receiving end of a thoughtful meal delivery. It is something that will forever be part of our memories of those precious first few weeks as a family of four.