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Monday, September 17, 2012

Motherhood Mondays: A brilliant way to help new parents

My friend just had a baby girl, and I discovered the greatest way to help new parents...

A mutual friend had set up a Meal Train for them. Meal Train is an online calendar, where you can sign up for a night to bring the family dinner. The website features a list of their favorite foods (if you like to cook) and local restaurants (so if you live far away, you can send delivery).

On my friend's calendar, the first two weeks after her baby's birth were filled with friends bringing homemade meals (including lentil soup and crusty bread; chicken with potatoes; and spinach lasagna). The best part is that the busy new parents don't have to do anything. All the logistics are taken care of online. They can just cuddle their baby and wait for a delicious dinner to arrive.

How great is that? Have you ever heard of Meal Train?
P.S. 8 gift ideas for new parents, and a beautiful ring.

(Top photo by my friend Lina; bottom photo by Faith Durand for this meatballs post)

85 comments:

aubry. said...

funny! mormons have been doing this for years! it's our thing! if someone in our church has a baby, surgery, etc. - we bring meals. i'm one of five women in my church who's responsible for coordinating the delivery of meals, even. (there's a lot of babies being born over here!).

Bonnie said...

I also use Take Them A Meal.com - it's another great site. We especially like that you can see what others are planning to take that week so you don't plan for chicken 3 nights in a row :)

ale norris said...

it's a great idea, but i just can't get over the picture of that baby. ADORABLE.
-ale

emily said...

Yup! my friend just had a baby and someone set up a meal train for them. Not a fancy online one, but an old school style sign-up sheet at her Baby-Q (it was her second child, she didn't want another shower). I thought it was a brilliant idea. We sure could have used one when we had our baby!
(caribou emily)

Sara said...

Yes, we always try to do this for friends! Such a great idea!!

Mama in the City said...

I read your blog title in my feed and right away thought, 'food delivery!!'. I totally think arranging food drop offs for new parents is THE BEST. My favourite memories are of nursing my newborn while chowing down on my friends vegetable lasagna. She brought me a huge one with both my babes. Love love love!

Jenny said...

My best friend set a meal train up for me after our son was born. It seriously was the best thing ever....I didn't have to cook for six weeks! :)

Brenda Sapanraggo said...

I'm a fan of takethemameal.com. It's such a lovely idea :)

Stephanie said...

I haven't heard of that, but my mom recently told me that she spent the month before I was born making dinners to freeze for after I was born. I plan on following her example and spending January stockpiling soup, stuffed peppers, twice-baked potatoes, etc. ;-)

Joanna Goddard said...

mama in the city --that's so sweet. i agree, i remember every single food that people brought for toby's first few weeks. my friend leigh brought bean soup, a big salad and cookies; my friend abbey brought turkey sandwich fixings and an amazing gooey cheese; my friend corrie brought veggie pasta; alex's boss sent jeni's ice cream....etc etc....i remember the entire list!

so funny how important food is to overwhelmed new parents! it makes you feel nourished and taken care of :)

Liz Lauren said...

thats really amazing. they think of everything these days!

http://lavieenliz.com

caramac said...

We just had a baby 2 months ago & a friend did meal train for us. The only problem was that she set it up for the baby's actual birth date & he then arrived two weeks late, so we then gave people the option of rescheduling, which everyone did since they wanted to meet the baby. We also invited them to eat with us since we wanted/needed socialization time.

Kirsten said...

We just had our little Emerson Arrow two weeks ago (today!), and he arrived a bit early, so I didn't have the stockpile of freezer meals I had planned on cooking in our last stretch of baby-free days.

A friend pulled together a meal train for us using takethemameal, and, yes, it's awesome that everyone can see what others are bringing. Since my husband had to go to work after just a few days at home, this has been wonderful for us. In the evenings, we can relax, he can get lots of baby time and - if I'm lucky - I can get a nap!

I am so grateful for how lovely our friends have been throughout this process, and the food contributions are completely the icing on the love cake!

Miyan said...

great idea! when one of my best friends had her baby, we all offered to bring meals, we did it via email so we knew who was bringing what and when, and since im in israel and she is in texas one of my other friends offered to make my "meal." it was very nice. but this website seams to be very organized and a great way to show support and help out new parents. love it!

Miyan
fly far

Sherri said...

I just set up something similar through Take Them a Meal for friends who had a baby at the beginning of August. Make sure to space out the meals or encourage people to eat with them to avoid the problem of leftovers!

Liv said...

I struggled so much after my daughter was born. I had friends bring meals the weekend we came home, but then it was like I dropped off the face of the planet. I was so depressed, and since I was nursing I was hungry and thirsty all the time. I think I ate nothing but s'mores poptarts for weeks straight. If I ever have another baby, I'm going to set this up AND stock my freezer full of food.

Mary said...

Our small group at my church does this for anyone in our group that just had a weebabe. We're waiting on someone to have one this week, and I'm eager to get signed up to bring them some good food!

Unfurled said...

Our work friends did Meal Train for us after we had our baby and it was INVALUABLE, since we didn't have family nearby.

Christy said...

This is great! I've never heard of Meal Train, but friends of mine that recently had a baby were totally taken care of by their friends and neighbors for the first three weeks. They even had a sign on their door asking food-bringers to please come inside and leave the dish on the table if everybody was sleeping :)

Amanda Carr said...

its very common for churches to do this. It's so helpful and prevents the parents from having to answer the same questions over and over. great idea.

Chelsea said...

I haven't heard of this but what a great idea!

Michele said...

Very clever site. Now I have to figure out if it will work in Paris!

Sarah @ Two Blue Lemons said...

Food is TRULY the best gift for a new mom. I also like to bring breakfast and snack items because dinner time with a newborn can be fussy/stressful but breakfast is usually cozy snuggle fest! Wait...maybe I need another baby.

Alicia Marie said...

We use a similar site all the time for new babes in our church and small group. foodtidings.com is another site. It is wonderful because it has listing of what the parents/kids are allergic to or do not like. Nursing mom could specify on the spice level and so forth. The site you mentioned may to the same. SO helpful. We didn
t really tell anyone about our first baby and were new to the church so we did not get many meals, but with my second we were well taken care of. Plus, my husband's work was able to join in. It was SO helpful, especially with two little ones at home.

Michelle said...

Love this and do it often for friends and family.

Lauren said...

We are doing a meal train for our friend whose 3 year old daughter was diagnosed with leukemia. These have been such a great thing to help them during this stressful time and love the meal train website! It is quite easy to use.

Georgia Fyke Nesbitt said...

My church just switched to Meal Train for all of our meal delivery needs! Works like a charm!

Edith said...

I don't have a baby, but I think friends should do this for me regardless :D

lollingabout said...

I don't know if it's a Southern thing, or a church thing, maybe both, but I've grown up doing this my whole life! My mom had a set meal that she'd always make to take to families. We loved it because it was the only time she'd make this one cake that we loved! When my little brother was born, we had food for weeks! Now that my friends have started having babies, it's been really fun to be able to take meals myself. I think that even more than the convenience of food, it helps people know that they're still loved, and gives some of the moms some adult interaction for the first time in days (we have a lot of friends married to traveling musicians)!

anto said...

Wow, what a cool and fantastic idea! I had never heard of this before. It sounds so lovely and convenient!

Meghan said...

Friends have set up takethemameal for me after both of my boys were born. It is the best to get homemade meals and a quick visit from friends post-baby. I felt so loved.
An incredibly kind friend did our laundry one day after the birth of our second which was an unexpected and very much appreciated treat. She had us leave a bag of dirty clothes on the front porch and brought it back all cleaned, folded and bundled that night. I cried with appreciation. Such a treat!

Bethany said...

I can't believe there are people whose friends/family/church/work DON'T do this for them! It's such a life-saver when you have a new baby, an illness or death in the family, etc. We've even had friends organize meal schedules for families that are just going through a busy/stressful time.

Angry Asian said...

yes, it's great! a dear friend of my beloved's, her husband suffered a horrible neck break this past summer and for the first 2 months we all took turns bringing dinner for them and their 2 very young kids. eric is thankfully & blessedly on the mend.

Annie said...

that's what grandma's are for!! :)

Michelle Foster said...

I love this idea! The best part is : the new parents will probably be eating healthier meals than if they had to rely on take out during this busy time. They also will be getting the proper (clean) energy from the food to keep going.
-Michelle {LiveLoudly}

Hilary Severson said...

Love this! When my boys were born friends and family brought us meals for two months! Such a blessing. I love returning the favor too. One friend just had surgery so I dropped a meal off the other day. My neighbor gave birth to her twins at only 23 weeks gestation. Poor babies were in the NICU for months. I brought them a meal once a week for three months. Such a special and simple way to help people.

Mad Max and Family said...

Yep! My work does this for new babies and other reasons (death in the family, etc)...

Although I know my husband and I personally wouldn't be interested in this because he's a very strict vegan (plant-strong) cook, and he loves cooking.

But when people came to see my first baby, some of my friends brought me lunch - yum! I've made a lot of hints that I would love java or cupcakes this time, haha.

-Tara
http://madmaxandfamily.blogspot.com
http://blog.chron.com/madabouttown/

mod erin said...

Wow, such a great idea and helps them avoid the pizza trap you can fall into after having a baby ! Wish I could do something like this for my friend who has just had a baby but she is all the way in Ireland.

Meredith said...

Joanna, when does your site makeover go live?

mary straton said...

This is just a given in the South! I've never heard of Meal Train, but my friends and I have always used TakeThemAMeal.com, and it's wonderful as well!

Another tip: don't have people sign up for every night of the week - food often gets wasted. Try just Tuesdays and Thursdays, or Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays! Also, check ahead of time to see if the recipient would rather have the meal ready-to-eat or frozen to save!

luke and pamela said...

my friends set up a meal train for me when i had my second baby. we were leaving town a few months later, so i think we had an extra outpouring of love from our community. more and more friends signed up, and we had 6 weeks of meals delivered every other day for us. it was the best gift ever! some even brought breakfast for the next morning, others brought craft beers along, one gave us an entire chocolate coconut cake. it was incredible.

amiechristo said...

That's something that's just always happened with any of the kids born in either our church or in my family. It's amazing how a little thing can make life so much easier.

Lindsey Lindstrom said...

THE GREATEST POST BABY BLESSING EVER!! Forget the baby clothes, bring momma dinner! My friends did this for me after I had my second baby and it was amazing. You never realize what a great relief it is to not have to think about dinner until you don't have to think about dinner! ha!

moonshinejunkyard said...

our friends just did this for us when our baby girl was born in july! yep, they used mealtrain.com and it was amazing. we ate so well for almost two weeks!!! our friends were thoughtful enough to even research healthy recipes for breastfeeding mamas and i was introduced to several new favorite meals (raw walnut tacos, for example, so delicious). we were treated like the king and queen of our community, my parents were blown away by the kindnesses of our friends.

M Hood said...

I'm part of a mom's group and everyone someone's got pregnant and closer to the due date, we would organize cooking for them for the first 2 weeks after baby.

The mom-to-be and hub gets to write what type of food they'd like for us to cook (some are vegetarian, some prefer menu that are gluten-free, etc), for how many people (they may already have siblings) and we'd find anyone who'd volunteer to cook each of the food. Then we deliver the food while visiting with their family.

Done it twice already last year. Yes, it's free service, I thought it was a rather nice thing to do for moms. :D

simply blythe said...

my twin sister set this up for us when we had our first baby in may.
it was great.
even friends and family out of state could contribute by calling in a deliver order from local restaurants.

Y said...

what a genius idea!~ a way to anyone's heart is definitely through the stomach~

xoxox

theferrytale.blogspot.com

Abby Rose said...

Funny. I'm a Mormon and we have been doing this since forever. It really is great, and it's a great way to give service and meet sweet new families.

Natalie said...

Every mother of a newborn needs this! And you don't have to know the new family well to participate. This is one of those magical acts of kindness that makes everyone involved feel soooo good. I would only add that meal containers should always be disposable so that the parents of the newborn are not left with a mountain of dishes to return to people!

Knittinchick said...

I've done this a million times for new families and people going through cancer treatment etc (yes, i'm a part of a faith community).

My tips:
*disposable containers
*i always take my meal frozen flat in a ziploc bag with clear directions so it doesn't take up too much space in their freezer(b/c sometimes there's leftovers from the night before)

I realize that I'm single so I get to bless many parents and families with this-I'm pretty famous for my teriyaki chicken or turkey sloppy joes, salad in a bag and comfort food chocolate cake. (If my married friends want to know how to assist me @ some point: on the very rare occasion that I am sick and stuck at home, I would be equally blessed to have a married friend offer to pick up some gingerale and meds for me.)

Quiana said...

Yep Meal Tran is great! I started a new moms ministry at my church and we opted to use Meal Baby instead since it was more secure. I totally wish I had something like this set up when I was pregnant. I remember hearing, "Oh when you have your baby everyone will be bringing you food and waiting on you hand and foot!" Nope not true for me - I was up and about right after I was discharged cooking meals and it was so so hard. Next time I'm freezing tons of meals in advance and now I try to help as many moms as I can in my circle who need the support I wanted so badly when I had my LO.

The Meaning of Me said...

I guess I've heard of it - but not online or called that. Our friends, family, church community have just always done that. And not only for new babies, but post-surgery, after the death of a loved one, and other difficult or high-stress times. It's a bigger help than you realize until you're on the receiving end.

Leica said...

My husband is a Navy officer, and all the spouse groups that I've been part of have done this whenever someone in the squadron has a baby. I had my daughter over a year ago, and my favorite meal was the huge lasagna dish because it was hearty, delicious, and lasted for days!

Sue G said...

Amazing idea. My friends organized their own meal train after we had our son. It was exactly this - every night for two weeks someone showed up around 7-ish, cuddled our little one, fed us, and left enough leftovers for lunch the next day. It was the most wonderful gift they could give us and also took care of having to plan for people to visit and meet the baby.

Eliza Jane said...

What a great idea!!

Stephanie Sabbe said...

I'm from the south, bringing food to new mamas is all I know:)

Coleen said...

I heard about a casserole shower for a 3rd baby. What a great idea. Everyone brought a frozen casserole and then spent a few hours visiting with the momma to be and snacking on some appetizers. She left with 2 weeks of meals.

Orangepeel23 said...

My mom does this for her friends too and I hope when I start a family my friends will as well!

Elizabeth Cumming said...

This is such a lovely gesture, and I'm sure most of us would get tons of food and support from family. However, when some women in a circle of friends get food from other women without even a hint, while others in the circle may not get this same treatment--it causes some bitterness. Some "but I'm so nice, and if x, y, and z got whatever, why didn't I?" So then you feel like demanding equal treatment, but then you can't because you would KNOW that if you did get something it wasn't given voluntarily like it was the other women. Gah! It was something that was on my mind--did any of you not get food (or whatever) from friends in a time of need while other friends in your circle did?

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prepare dinners for the family is a wonderful journey.
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Heather said...

I've used mealbaby.com very successfully!

Anna said...

I've used Meal Train for friends who have had babies and also for harder times, like the loss of a parent or illness. After having a baby last year, I now take two meals. Sometimes two of the same thing (easy stacked enchiladas) or sometimes two different things, but one meal is cooked and the other is ready to freeze. Even if you just take a convenience food for freezing, when friends did that for us, I thought it was absolutely amazing. The other thing that I loved was when someone would bring the entire meal, down to some fancy soda or a couple bottles of beer! Finally, the best meals are the ones that come about six weeks after the baby. When everyone has forgotten about you and you need some company!

Lady Grey said...

this really is an amazing idea - and such a great way to help out.

Vanessa said...

Yes! We have used meal train for new babies many times as well as for other families in need of care. When our kids were born, they set it up for us to get a meal every three days, because most people make at least enough for two days' worth of food. We didn't have to think about dinner for two months that way!!! It was the best gift our friends could have given us.

HRH Susan said...

That baby is the CUTEST!!!
Hot tip, thanks Jo.

Molly Stewart said...

It's funny what the first commenter said about Mormons doing this because it's SO TRUE!!! I live in a neighborhood with many Mormons an the second that someone has a baby, has surgery, has a death or anything, they are lining up to deliver meals. They have even done it to me and I find it so sweet. This really is part of their culture!

Cheryl Hurley said...

You mean you don't have time to cook a gourmet, 3-course feast every night when you have a new baby? :) This is such a great idea! One less thing to think about, and doesn't food always make you feel so taken care of?

The Stylist Quo

helencounters said...

My mom group has been using meal train for our second babies. I'll be on the receiving end in December. Yay! Would have been very helpful for the first!!

valerie said...

When we had our son my in laws drove up to Brooklyn from Maryland with a carload of groceries and home made food, with enough to freeze for later. We didn't have any friends with kids and only one of our friends anticipated how tough it would be for us to cook in the first few weeks and she brought over two amazing summer salads. It blew my mind and I cried grateful tears while eating them!

Now I have an amazing network of mama friends and bringing a meal (actually, we usually sign up for two) has become one of my favorite parts of becoming a parent. A whole home cooked meal is the very best gift you can give people who are so busy welcoming a new little life that they are likely to forget to take care of themselves.

Rebecca said...

When our wee one was born, our friend not only brought a variety of healthy foods, but would hold the baby while my husband and I ate, and once even bounced her till she fell asleep, and quietly snuck out the door after placing the baby in her crib. We also had friends who brought us an entire roasted chicken!

Barbie // Little Skyline said...

This has to be perhaps one of the best things to do for new parents! I remember a friend bought a great meal for me to chow down on while she was visiting, and a bunch of meals in tupperware that she threw in my freezer. Beyond amazing!

Mel said...

In my neighborhood we called it MOW for MOMS, or Meals on Wheels for Moms. Everyone would sign up and deliver the meals. A lot of pasta was had. I like the idea of having an online resource for what the new parents likes/dislikes are. The Mow train has come around a few times and it is awesome!

Al said...

We just had a baby girl and my friend did meal train for us. The nice thing about it, besides getting wonderful meals from a great community of people, is that you don't get the same meal every night. So we were not eating lasagna for two weeks straight but our meals varied because everyone can see what everyone else is bringing and not double up on meal ideas.

So helpful!!!

fancyfunction said...

Sounds great to me - esp since we're having our baby right before Christmas! I'm going to try to make and freeze a bunch of meals the week before, but this would be such a help!

beth - ann said...

i love motherhood monday! and this idea is awesome. family and friends in our community usually bring over dinners to new moms but i love the idea of being able to get them takeout.

http://greenwhaleblog.blogspot.com/

Spencer and Michelle said...

I haven't! But I love it. My moms group does this for every new mommy. For two whole weeks I didn't have to cook a meal when my daughter was born and it was so helpful. I loved the Dominos that was delivered just as much as the pasta bakes and pulled pork sandwiches. We use takethemameal.com I think these tooks are so great!

fleur_delicious said...

I think the best baby shower gift I ever gave was three weeks' worth of dinners which I'd prepared and then cut into individual portions and frozen. I coordinated with the father-to-be a few weeks in advance, and then at the shower we surprised our favorite pregnant lady with a huge cooler filled with homemade ravioli and gnocci, soups, lasagne, every good thing!

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parispagesblog.com said...

The nose sucker is not swedish at all! all French parents at this type of products. It's very controversial as it is not really the most efficient way to clean up a baby's nose :) and it WILL make you sick (tested by myself, French mom of a 10 month old adorable baby girl). In Poland, they even have a type of nose sucker with a little engine!

Gennea said...

Lots of friends have had babies recently and I have offered to bring them meals but they always refuse. I would love something like this instead of receiving unnecessary and gaudy clothing. Anyone have ideas on how would I encourage the food sharing?

eemmllee said...

Haha, this was my first thought too! Maybe we'll have to get on the website idea for where I live (NY makes it a little harder to take someone a meal).

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