Sharing the Love, Sharing the Food
When I was pregnant with AnaBella, my first child, I had just begun attending a church of a few hundred people. There were many young families that cared for and supported each other in the months following the birth of their children. One of my new friends, a young mom with a daughter under a year, asked how many meals a week I’d like, and for how many weeks, after AnaBella’s birth. I had no idea what my recovery would be like, but was hesitant to ask anything of moms who already had their hands full. So my friend decided and organized for me – twelve weeks of meals, delivered to my house every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
The first meal came from a mom with four children under the age of seven. The next meal was a soup and salad, made with home grown veggies, by a woman I had never met. She drove 45 minutes (one way) with two children under 2 to deliver my dinner. Another dish came from a woman who didn’t have children, but hoped to one day. More from women I didn’t know. Some stayed, talked and prayed, and threw in the laundry on their way out. Some helped me with nursing. Others quietly left the meal on the porch while I napped. Most of the time, there was enough food for lunch and dinner the next day.
Three years later, I still remember what each of those women brought me for a meal. But more importantly, I remember their compassion and selflessness. They spent time and energy preparing a meal, and then often drove over an hour round trip (in dinner-time traffic) to deliver it. For me, this was true community, and true love. Once I experienced that, I knew I had to pay it forward as often as I could.
As I prep each meal for my new mama friends, I know I’m not just feeding her body—I’m feeding what may be a fragile spirit. I know, because that’s what I was, too. I model my meal packages after those that had a little something for breakfast, a treat for after dinner, and a delicious homemade snack. Prepping meals doesn’t have to be an all-day affair though.
Here are my seven favorite recipes to bless new moms.
Spiced Beef Stew
This recipe is pretty forgiving. Add more or less of a certain spice according to your preferences. If it’s winter, you can make it with warm pearled couscous and winter squash, or if the weather is warmer, a cold couscous salad with spinach. You should be able to feed four adults with this recipe.
Did you know oats are great for boosting milk supply? Perfect for new moms! This recipe is delicious warm or cold, slathered with butter, honey, or fresh fruit. You can sub out the bananas for about 1 cup of chopped apple, pear, or berries if you’d like. The recipe is easily doubled, and it freezes well.
Quinoa Salad with Fennel and Apple
Salads with fruit, nuts and cheese are the best! Pair with a simple butternut squash soup, and this is a great fall dish.
Peanut butter and jelly oat bars
If there are older children in the house, they will thank you for making these treats! And if Mom is nursing, she’ll be happy to have a filling, tasty snack.
This is my favorite meal to make in the winter. Everyone who has ever tasted it asks for the recipe. I’d double it so you can enjoy for dinner, too!
Chickpea and Millet Stew
This recipe can be made for meat-loving folks too – just add in some chorizo or other cooked sausage before serving.
Red Thai Curry
I was first introduced to Thai food with this recipe, and you could say it was love at first bite. This recipe is simple and flexible. I’ve subbed shrimp, white fish, chicken, and even ramped up the vegetables, making it vegetarian. The garnishes make it really special though, so don’t forget the cilantro!
And before you drop off dinner, check out this list of other ways you can help, from Mommypotamus.
Megan is a freelance writer, and author of The Other Baby Book: A Natural Approach to Baby’s First Year. She’s mother of three year old AnaBella, who shares her mama’s love for cooking real food.