After the arrival of a new baby, friends and family will want to know how they can show their love and support. One of the most helpful and appreciated gestures can be providing meals for the thrilled, yet exhausted family.
What’s the best way to go about planning meals after a birth? A meal train. A meal train is simply when friends and family make and deliver meals according to a set schedule. This can easily be done using sites like mealtrain.com. Much easier than starting an email thread, mealtrain.com provides an interactive calendar, email alerts for participants, the ability to list meal preferences, updates for cancellations or additions and much more.
Whether you’re a new mother, or just a friend who wants to provide a meal, you might be wondering what kinds of meals to request or provide.
Focus on nutrient density. This is a time when mom needs plenty of nutrients to provide her with energy as well as the nutrients needed for breast milk. Women who are breastfeeding should be sure to eat plenty of foods high in animal fats, to get fat-soluble vitamins A and D, as well as minerals like zinc and B12. For those who can tolerate dairy, whole milk is a good option, especially if bought from a local farmer. Lacto-fermented beverages (such as beet kvass, kefir or kombucha) as well as soaked grain porridges are traditionally believed to increase milk supply.
Whole, unprocessed foods are naturally high in various nutrients. Strongly consider organic meats, vegetables, grains and legumes, with a special emphasis on leafy green vegetables. Dishes that can pack in a variety of vegetables will be excellent, such as soups and stews, which can be extra nourishing if made from slow-simmered bone broths. One-pot meals or casseroles can also be comforting and loaded with vegetables. For meat, poultry, or fish, opt for the highest quality you can find. This means grass-fed beef, pasture-raised chicken or wild-caught fish. A simple example of this is a whole roasted chicken with a side of herb roasted seasonal vegetables and a salad. Stay away from trans fatty acids that are found in margarine, vegetable shortenings and many processed foods.
Mother’s dietary preferences or conditions should always be considered, and sites like mealtrain.com will allow for clear specifications on this. If mom didn’t digest beans well before birth, then substitute your multi-bean chili with a meat and veggie-based one instead. Or, if mom was sensitive to gluten, opt for something like this gluten-free shepherds pie with cauliflower topping.
Here are a few tips for "meal train etiquette":
Think of meals that are out-of-the-box ready. At home, your go-to meals may have several parts that need to be assembled or put together. Especially with a new baby, it will be a joy to just open a meal, heat, and eat!
If you’re not confident in your culinary skills, consider take-out from the family’s favorite place. Sometimes a whole pizza plus a salad will satisfy everyone’s taste buds, especially if there are other children in the family.
Consider including a sweet treat. Homemade pies, fresh fruit salads or chia seed puddings are great!
Make it beautiful. Fresh flowers are always a nice addition, or beautiful cloth napkins to wrap things in, along with a hand-written note. Sometimes the smallest things can make the biggest difference and will let new mom know she is fully supported.