Before I had children I had little exposure to the concept of taking a meal to a friend, besides the occasional drop off on house moving days or post surgery meal deliveries. When I gave birth to Bella, the 3 weeks of meals we received were such a blessing and opened my eyes to the enormity of the gesture of “taking a meal”. What I loved most was how it automatically, without offending anyone enabled all the people closest to us to meet our little bundle of joy in the first 3 weeks without worrying about hoards of people arriving unannounced on any particular day.
So, today I would like to share how easy it is to bless a bestie by organising a “take a meal roster” and to give all the meal-givers some ideas of some easily packaged, healthy and balanced meal ideas that are ideal for nursing moms and their families – perfect for drop off and quick baby cuddles.
Setting up the Meal Roster
It’s as easy as clicking on the following link:
Things to consider when taking a meal
- Select a meal that fits with the family’s dietary needs and that you can transport easily. The true blessing of this gesture lies in the drop-off of home-cooked healthy family food.
- Choose containers that you could use to cook/transport the food. It’s great to use disposable containers that do not need to be returned and that you can label – be sure to include reheating instructions. Good examples are foil pans, glass jars, washed out yogurt/sour cream containers, or extra dishes you no longer need.
- Place everything you need to deliver in a box or gift bag – preferably something you don’t need to get back. . This can be helpful if one of your items is a topping or if your main dish should go over the rice you included.
- Add a handwritten note or card with some words of encouragement and possibly a puzzle or colouring book for the new “older sibling”.
- Don’t stay too long. This is time to meet the new bundle of joy and possible sneak in a baby cuddle but it is not the time for an extended visit. In some cases it might be helpful to stay and visit, if it’s a close friend or sister whose toddler needs a bath and whose hubby is working late but as a general rule, it could be exhausting instead of helpful if everyone bringing a meal stayed for a lengthy visit each day.
Involving your children when “taking a meal”
Committing to a meal drop off for someone when you are managing your own household full of little ones can feel a little overwhelming. But I have learned that now involving my little Bella in the process of taking someone a meal, even in the smallest way like decorating the gift bag with stickers is instilling in her great life lessons from a very young age. Some tips on how to change this challenge into a rewarding opportunity.
- Talk to your children about what you’re doing and why. Simply having a conversation about why you’re taking a meal can really open a child’s eyes and help them to be more sympathetic to the needs of others. If it’s a happy situation (like a new baby) rejoice together in the joy of new life. If it’s a hard situation like a baby or child in hospital, use your discretion to give them an honest account of what’s going on in your friend’s life. It may open up some doors to talk about pain and sadness and how we all deal with these universal emotions.
- Meal plan together. Let your children tell you about meals and/or desserts that they enjoy and come up with a plan together. This is especially valuable if the person you’re taking a meal to have other children, as your child may recommend more child-friendly meals than you would have come up with on your own. This simple activity will help your kids feel more invested in the process.
- Cook with your kids!!! Hand over some more simple jobs such as washing fruits and vegetables, peeling, rolling, mashing, whisking, measuring and pouring ingredients. Children can peel and spread the veggies or sprinkle on the cheese. It will certainly take more time but it’s worth it – this changes the meal prep task into an afternoon activity with your children rather than another item that just needs to be ticked off the to-do list.
- Deliver the meal together. If the situation allows, bring your children along when you take your meal. Again, it will take more effort but this will speak volumes to them about how to care for others.
Take a Meal ideas
You will notice that every meal suggestion includes a fresh salad. Often keeping up with fresh produce i.e. fruit and salads is one of the greatest challenges in the busy early days of being a new mom, so adding a fresh salad to a cooked meal is always a great idea!
- Bacon & feta / Ham & Mushroom Quiche … and salad
- Cheesy Parmesan Crusted Chicken, roasted vegetables vegetables … and salad
- Grilled Hake or Salmon, broccoli and Cauliflower cheese bake … and salad
- Hearty beef and veggie soup … and salad
- Courgette and Aubergine Lasagne… and salad
- Bakes Chicken breast stuffed with feta and pesto with crispy broccoli… and salad
- Stew (chicken, beef or lamb) with carrot and sweet potatoe mash … and salad
- Frikkadels (chicken or meat) with tomato sauce, steamed mixed vegetables … and salad
- Spaghetti mince and sweet potato cottage pie … and salad
- Roast Chicken, roasted sweet potatoe, green leafy vegetables … and salad
- Grilled chops (pork or lamb), pumpkin & butternut mash, peas … and salad
2 Chicken breast fillets
60ml (¼ cup) milk
1 slice white bread
10ml (2 tsp) sunflower oil
- Mince the chicken breasts.
- Beat the egg and milk together and mix with the minced chicken.
- Remove the crusts and crumble the bread into the chicken mixture.
- Shape the chicken mixture into 4 small frikkadels, squeezing out excess moisture.
- Fry in hot sunflower oil until cooked.
- Serve on a bed of fresh stir-fried vegetables
Toddler Savoury Mince – suitable for the whole family
Basic Savoury Mince
500g lean beef mince
5 small baby marrow, grated (can substitute with or add a chopped onion for older children)
50 ml (1T) olive oil
200ml water or low sodium beef stock
1 small tomato, skinned, seeded and finely diced
- Brown the mince and baby marrow in the olive oil.
- Add the water and stir rapidly.
- Stir in the tomato, cover saucepan and simmer gently for 20-30 minutes.
Cottage Pie – individual portions
125 ml (½ cup) basic savoury mince
60ml (¼ cup) tomato sauce
125ml (½ cup) cooked peas, baby marrows and butternut, diced
125ml (½ cup) mashed sweet potato
- Mix together the savoury mince, tomato sauce and vegetables and place in a small ovenproof dish.
- Spoon the mashed sweet potato onto the mince mixture.
- For added fun, place a biscuit cutter in the shape of a dog, a bunny or a fish on top of the mashed sweet potato and then sprinkle in some grated cheese.
- Remove the biscuit cutter.
- Bake at 1800C for 20 minutes.
Cheesy Parmesan Crusted Chicken
¾ cup finely grated Parmesan
salt and milled pepper, to taste
30g butter, melted
1 large free-range egg
8 free-range drumsticks
- Preheat the oven to 200°C. In a dish or on a plate, combine the Parmesan and seasoning.
- In another dish, mix together the melted butter and the egg.
- Dip and roll each drumstick in the egg-butter wash, then roll to coat in the cheese.
- Transfer to a baking tray and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until the chicken is cooked through and the cheese coating is brown and crisp.
For Some more great recipes for family meals get yourself a copy of Real food, Healthy happy Children: Kath Megaw.