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Food (Dinner) ideas for a new mom?

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I'm part of a meal co-op and am taking a meal to a friend who had a baby 4 weeks ago. I've asked her for some direction (as far as food restrictions, cravings, etc.) the only thing she told me is to stay away from red bell peppers and anything spicy.

I'm completely drawing a blank on what to take for her and her husband for a meal. I'm thinking a lasagna or something along the lines of a baked dish would be too heavy (cheesy, etc). It would have to carry well, or be put together before hand, so they could bake (I live about 20 minutes away from them). ...I'm completely blanking.

Any mom's out there recall what they enjoyed eating during those first months? They've been getting meals every other day from various friends, although, I don't know what others have brought.

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  1. How about making up a hearty stew (meat or poultry) and creating individual pot pies? There's something comforting and hearty about pot pies. They're simple, easy to prepare and with a simple salad and glass of wine you've got a complete meal.

    3 Replies
    1. re: todao

      Individual chicken or veggie pot pies are a great idea. Flavorful, but not too spicy.

      You can also make quiches, with or without the crust. Mini sizes made in a muffin tin are great because they can be part of a meal or a quick bite for the super-busy new mom. You can try veggie quiches with spinach, zucchini, mushrooms and mozzarella.

      What about grilling some chicken cutlets and packing them in a ziplock? Buy some romaine hearts, roll the washed leaves in paper towl and store in a ziplock. That way mom has a grilled chicken salad and all she has to do is tear up the lettuce. You can also roast some beets, grill carrots or other veggies, and buy some nice olives and pack all in small containers.

      Prepare veggie and cheese quesedillas (don't cook) and stack them in a large container with a paper towl between each one. When they're hungry, all your friend has to do is pop them in the oven until the cheese is melty and the tortilla toasty.

      Macaroni and cheese freezes well, as does a macaroni casserole with meat sauce, My husband claims macaroni and meat is better baked from the freezer than baked fresh.

      Good luck!

      1. re: todao

        Love the pot pie or one giant pot pie, chicken or beef, lots of vegetables and a great crust. You can even use great bakeware that is disposable next to the aluminum pans, Only a couple of bucks and well worth it. Even smaller ones for individual pies. Salad is great, wine (Mom may have to stay away if breastfeeding) Dad I'm sure will partake.

        I love to roast a turkey, easy, don't have to do a big one, inexpensive, make some traditional stuffing and mashed potatoes. She can use the leftovers for sandwiches and evening bites. Fun and a turkey is the easiest thing in the world to cook.

        Lasagna is great which I saw before.

        Turkey tettrazini,

        I make a great vegetable dish with potatoes, broccoli, tomatoes, mushrooms baked which is great to go with a spiral ham. Another simple, heat and serve. I have many local places BJ's, Sams and local stores who carry them inexpensively. Great to have. She can recreate many meals with the left overs.

        Me ... I love meatloaf and most people do. That is always good.

        Roast pork slow cooked for a few hours with sweet potatoes, carrots parsnips, onions, general seasoning, mushrooms, simple food

        I make a great mushroom and chicken pasta. When I travel with it, I grill the chicken, set aside, then grill the mushrooms and onions and deglaze with a little wine ... Make the pasta and add the spinach and mushrooms and chicken to it. Then I keep the sauce seperate. All they have to do it mix together. I take mine in a throw away hot cooler cup. Really easy.

        Meatballs is also nice to take, pre baked and served in sauce. All she has to do is make pasta

        Baked chicken cut in sections is a good think to send

        I also did beef stirfry (stayed away from peppers) mushrooms, onions beef broth, rice and it freezes well

        And soup of course. I have tons of easy creamy healthy soups. Lots which is wonderful for a new mom

        1. re: kchurchill5

          Those are all great food ideas, but I wanted to pipe up to point out that nursing moms don't have to skip the wine altogether. Basically, if you are sober enough to take care of an infant, you're sober enough to breastfeed one. For readers that need to know, check out kellymom.com, an evidence-based website about BFing. :-)

      2. I'm not a mom... being male... but here's a thought:

        You don't HAVE to make a casserole-type dinner for folks. In any situation, they are going to have to bake it for 30-45 minutes (at least) right? I'd be willing to bet that they've had their fill of lasagna at this point - it's a pretty common gift-dish.

        Why not prepare a chicken dish or a pork loin? Leave the chicken or pork raw and just leave them with instructions on how to bake it.

        My thought is buy a chicken and split it into quarters. Season it in whatever way you think they will like (salt, pepper, garlic, olive oil, dijon mustard, white wine, fresh herbs?) and plop it into a disposable aluminum roaster. A layer of onions, carrots and celery on the bottom will help the chicken elevated and cook. This would probably take about 30-40 minutes (uncovered). That's simply a quick idea, but it's different than the typical lasagna.

        Do know that whatever you make will be more than appreciated, though!

        1. If you can find out through the co-op's E-mail list what they've already been given, that would help a lot so you don't over-pasta them!

          Otherwise, cheater scalloped potatoes (boiled potatoes, sliced thickly, mixed with white sauce), cheese added or not, ham chunks. Bake ahead and transport. It reheats well, but do NOT freeze. Tell them to eat any leftovers during the next few days.
          The potatoes get very soggy and nasty.

          Or how about minestrone soup with little meatballs. I usually use ground chicken or turkey. If you use tortellini for the pasta, it is a generous meal-in-a-bowl.

          Then there's always pulled pork. You can make it in a crock pot, it transports well, you don't have to make it terribly spicy (dad can eat a few peppers on the side if he wants). Take some wonderful rolls and coleslaw.

          Chicken and rice with petit pois in a white sauce. Bake ahead because it reheats well.

          I don't know if you're doing dessert as well, but if not, maybe take some individually-wrapped and freezer-bagged muffins and/or cookies. Raisin-bran muffins, oatmeal-dried cranberry cookies. Something for a quick snack for mom at the least and good fiber for her.

          How does a meal co-op work? Is this something more than just friends helping friends? Is it a larger network than that?

          2 Replies
          1. re: nemo

            I too am very interested in the meal co-op - please share how it works.

            As for the food for the new mom, there are a number of threads on Chow that are really, really helpful.

            1. re: nemo

              Thanks for all your helpful suggestions!!! I appreciate it, as even after searching the boards, I was still drawing blanks.... but no longer!

              The 'co-op' may have been a misleading term - it's just friends helping friends. This one was organized through this very convenient website: www.mealbaby.com - it works like a registry - you set up what days you want meals and send the link out to whomever you wish. People then sign up for a day, and are supposed to put what they are bringing (so there aren't duplicates) - although, this group of friends just said things like "something yummy" - so it pretty much defeated the purpose. It was very easy to use, free, and would be useful for a myriad of occasions.

            2. When I've made foof for people in various situations (and I haven't yet cooked for a new mom,) the item most appreciated was one that could be eaten hot or cold--fried chicken. People love it. You can pick the skin off for picky kids, you can heat it up in the oven, or eat it straight out of the fridge. I usually accompany it with biscuits or mashed potatoes, green beans or broccoli if I know the family likes it, and brownies baked in a foil pan. This whole meal is much appreciated, reheats or can be eaten cold, and is pretty easy to put together.

              1 Reply
              1. re: amyzan

                I've had good luck giving a lasagna to new moms... easy to reheat, and comfort food.

              2. My daughter just had her third child on 2/11, and I told her to think about what she wanted me to make them for dinner one night. She knows my specialties, so I thought maybe spaghetti, or chili, or roasted chicken. Well she wants mom's pot roast! So that she will have! Pot roast, potatoes, gravy, some rolls, with a fresh tossed salad. I'll have to make enough for my husband and I to eat as well, or he won't let me take it out of the house, so we will pack it up, go over there and all eat together.

                I am also going to take her some pre-seasoned burger patties, for the freezer, and some buns, so she has a quick meal for one night. I was thinking about a bean soup, but I'm afraid since she is nursing, and has an incision, that might be too gassy for her and the baby. I'll wait on that. Maybe a pot of chicken soup would be better.

                5 Replies
                1. re: danhole

                  I would make chicken soup. Comfort food, and practically a meal if you add in maztah balls. Congrats on the new grandbaby!!

                  1. re: cheesecake17

                    Thanks for the congrats! My daughter could live off chicken soup and I have a turkey carcass and some chicken parts stocked up, so after the pot roast, she's getting soup.

                    1. re: danhole

                      That's great for you- and her! You can make different 'flavored' chicken soups too..

                      1. re: cheesecake17

                        I'm curious. What do you mean? Different flavors? I'm drawing a blank here.

                        You know when I think about making food for a new mommy I take into consideration whether or not they are nursing. Her last baby got terrible colic from certain foods my daughter ate, and she had to watch the spice factor as well. Not all babies are that sensitive, and it took some trial and error to figure out what was bothering little Bella, but she eliminated some things and the colic settled down.

                        1. re: danhole

                          Maybe flavors isn't the right word, more like flavorings. My grandma makes chicken soup with dill, a friend makes a curried chicken soup, I've had butternut squash and sage chicken soup.. kind of along those lines.

                2. A few ideas:
                  - Fresh produce, like a nice salad or fruit salad, to be eaten immediately
                  - Anything that can be microwaved quickly or eaten straight out of the fridge, like quiche, soup, pasta salad.
                  - Things that can be eaten with one hand, like a pasty/hand pie type thing.
                  Because as a new mom, you don't have time to shop or cook and sometimes you have about three minutes to scarf down your lunch.

                  1. Lots of great ideas here... the only thing that occurred to me is to consider avoiding brassicas (broccoli, cabbage...) if she is breast feeding: a friend of mine told me it used to give her baby horrible colic.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: TheSnowpea

                      Broccoli is ok in limited amounts, cabbage, no spice, peppers are bad, not a lot of garlic some is ok, coffee, caffine alcohol if cooked etc. Not necessarily colic, that isn't what colic comes from but it can irritate it. But those are just general foods that are the best and be transferred over to the baby. You can still have some ... just not too much, very limited amounts especially early on.

                      1. re: kchurchill5

                        I ate everything and I breast fed (AND IN PUBLIC DAMMIT) and I had few problems . My friend sent over Thai my first night home. For most, it's hit or miss and it's pretty clear what the culprit is. I did find, however, that I needed more protein and calcium. Also, you can burn up to 1000 calories daily nursing. While most want to lose the baby weight asap, you really can't do it too quickly. Most women continue to take prenatal vitamins until they wean, which is great because frankly you can also be dazed and confused and not really take care of yourself.

                        That said, I think a lasagna is fine, provided you make good lasagna. You may even want to consider portioning it out so it can just be microwaved if and when Demon Baby (that's what we called the fussing times) comes and your friend needs something fast. Or you know, she decides she's going to shower or something.

                    2. If she is nursing, you should go easy on the sage. Sage gave my little one the worst tummy aches when I was nursing.

                      Nobody cooked or helped out when I had my baby and all my husband could make was hamburger helper LOL It was either that or what he calls "Bachelor Surprise" .

                      When my friend had surgery, I spent a few days cooking an assortment of things that we could put in her freezer and they would be microwaveable. Then I portioned out the dishes so that she would have fast meals.
                      I did baked ziti, Mexican chicken, a couple of different soups, and macaroni and cheese.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: nonamegoddess

                        Lots of oregano is very hard to digest. Things with ginger are great. It calms and is great for colic as well

                        1. re: kchurchill5

                          Im a new mom and the stuff we asked for the first few weeks were hearty soup/stews, baked pasta dishes, roasted chicken- homey comforting but easy meals. Breast feeding leaves you very hungry and you rarley find time to eat so these hearty meals were good during the few min. i got to get food in- :) My mother in law also made me a big bottle of vinagrette and cut washed letteuce so getting salad on my plate was very easy- I really found that helpful

                          1. re: gastronomy

                            Really, it made you hungry? I don't remember that, just being incredibly thirsty. Sometimes I think I sort of forgot to eat sometimes. I guess when I think about it, one of my faves actually was a good old PB&J with milk and water water and more water!

                      2. You already have a lot of great ideas here, but here's my 2 cents, as a mother of two small kids:

                        - fiber-rich foods are great for new moms. avoid stuff that will cause. . . "blockage." i also craved iron-rich foods, but i don't know if that's common or not.

                        - i echo the recs for stuff that can be eaten with one hand and/or straight out of the fridge.

                        - don't worry about avoiding certain foods unless the mom requested it - every woman/baby combo is different and you could go crazy trying to avoid all the things people recommend against for breastfeeding moms

                        - the best meals people brought for us:
                        1) chicken green chili enchiladas (I happen to know this was the Cook's Illustrated version - prepped to the point that all you had to do was bake them), salad fixings, and a blueberry crisp
                        2) a pasta salad that had a lot of fresh veggies and herbs in it - we ate it straight out of the container it came in (hardly any dishes dirtied - yay!)
                        3) chicken chili with salad fixings - portioned so all you had to do was pop it in the micro

                        - I also fantasized that someone would bring me some delicious, fiber-rich muffins that would freeze well, and that I could pop in the micro for a quick breakfast - but no one ever did :)

                        1. OP UPDATE: Thank you SO much for all the great ideas.

                          It came down to either a pot roast or a chicken pot pie, and I opted for the latter (figuring it was the better bet for me to do well (I'm still working on my red meat cooking legs!)).

                          I used a Williams-Sonoma recipe and made a homemade top crust... stuffed it full of chicken, peas, carrots and corn. I also put together a basic salad with cucumbers & tomatoes as a starter and made the new mom's favorite chocolate cake for dessert.

                          Her refrigerator died earlier in the day and were told the replacement part would take a week to arrive!!! So, I was glad I didn't prepare any 'to freeze or use later' type things. It all worked out great and I appreciate the time you all took to post your ideas!