Soon after my second baby was born, I was thrilled to get a call telling me that I’d be receiving a week of meals delivered by my friends. The next seven nights our doorbell rang and there stood someone dear to me holding warm dishes laden with delights.
A break from planning and making dinner was a blessed relief. It also exposed my family to a wider array of foods. More importantly, each night we sat down to eat a relaxed dinner made with love.
We were given so much food that we tucked lots of it in the freezer, spreading all that kindness into the following weeks. One new neighbor wasn’t aware that ours was a vegetarian household and brought over a huge pan with pot roast nestled in roasted vegetables. She also sent rolls, salad, and a cherry cobbler. We called my meat eater in-laws who happily came over to eat with us. Another friend made two different kinds of lasagna, one with garlicky white sauce and spinach, another layered with black beans and lots of veggies. Years later I still make both of her recipes.
A week of meals for families with new babies became a tradition in my circle of friends and my Le Leche League chapter. Here’s what worked for us.
1. Someone particularly close to the new mom and her family typically got the ball rolling. We never designated a person in charge of planning. But in your group of friends, or church, or neighborhood you may decide that putting one person in charge of setting up meal deliveries makes it easier.
2. We contacted the new mom with some basic questions such as best days and times to drop off food, food preferences, and if she wanted food brought ready to eat at dinner time or brought packed for storage (either in the freezer or to heat up later that day). Some moms preferred to have meal deliveries every other day.
3. Then we got in touch with all potential participants to schedule delivery days. It worked best to accommodate a variety of needs among people contributing meals. Some wanted to bring a homemade meal ready to eat at dinner time while others needed to drop a dinner off earlier in the day or even the day before. Some preferred to drop off bags of Mid-Eastern delights or trays of sushi they picked up on the way home from work. Some didn’t have time to deliver a meal during the week but would happily bring brunch on the weekend. It helped to jot down what people were planning to make so the family didn’t end up with three dishes of enchiladas on three consecutive nights.
4. We made sure to send out a full schedule to everyone participating. It functioned as a reminder, listed who was bringing what, and offered suggestions such as labeling pans and including recipes. A shared Google doc can uncomplicate things. Or use online meal scheduling sites to make this easier.
Of course, there are many other reasons besides a new baby to provide a series of meals. It’s remarkably helpful when people are dealing with illness or injury, or to make regular meetings more convivial, or welcome someone home from military service.
By the time my fourth child was born I was gifted with a full three weeks of meals, nearly all made by people I’d once provided with meals. It felt like an embarrassment of riches, but it was also a lesson in receiving as well as giving. Those dishes were warm with delicious foods that also warmed our hearts.