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Food For New Parents


V.H.
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A dear friend of mine just had her first baby yesterday and my baby gift to her is to stock her refrigerator full of food this weekend. She's not big into spicy foods or things that seem too ethnic. Given that most of my cooking repertoire is spicy and/or ethnic, I'm having trouble coming up with ideas. Thoughts?

Thanks y'all.

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A dear friend of mine just had her first baby yesterday and my baby gift to her is to stock her refrigerator full of food this weekend. She's not big into spicy foods or things that seem too ethnic. Given that most of my cooking repertoire is spicy and/or ethnic, I'm having trouble coming up with ideas. Thoughts?

Thanks y'all.

Lasagna, meat and veggie. If it is just the parents, I'd consider cutting the lasagna into individual size portions and wrapping each portion for individual freezing so they can pull out a couple at a time over the next few weeks.

Quiche is another good option, especially for eating now. Not sure how well quiche freezes.

Soup. Chicken noodle soup, split pea... Again, I'd think about preparing individual size portions that can be frozen and thawed easily...

Get some apples and oranges to tide them over in the fruit department.

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In my holiday laziness, I visited dinnerdone.com. They have all the ingredients ready and you go in to prepare a number of entrees you select prior to your visit. They offer a service specifically for new parents. If nothing else, their menu offers some good ideas like a variety of stuffed chicken breasts, shepards pie, pulled pork and beef wellington. Most of it is fairly simple and may fit your friend's palate. There are other food preparation services in the area but the Centerville operation is the only one I have tried.

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Congratulations to your friend! High calcium (think macaroni & cheese or lasagna) and/or high protein dishes are good, as are hearty portions if the mom is nursing. I recall eating like a truck driver for the first couple of weeks. The December Saveur has an article on casseroles...things like chicken divan, tamale pie, homemade tuna noodle casserole (w/bechamel instead of soup), sheperd's pie, etc. , all freeze well. If you make soup, some corn bread or biscuits to go with it is a nice touch. If you do go with casseroles, get some disposable plastic containers and divide into meal-sized portions for the freezer.

Stuff that mom can eat with one hand is helpful - both of my little ones always wanted to eat right at our dinnertime. And they will probably be pathetically grateful if you offer to do some laundry for them. :P

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Stews and/or a mild chili - since we're on the casserole theme.

Frozen veggies - real time/effort savers when you're trying to juggle multiple things

One thing to be cognizant of - if breast feeding then what mom eats is what the baby eats. We had no problems with Peanut not liking mom's diet, but I've heard of babies not being happy when mom has onions, garlic, or spicy foods.

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I did the same thing for my brother and sister-in-law when they had their first baby a couple years back. It was winter as well, so I made and froze the following:

Shrimp etouffe

Chicken enchiladas (chicken filling frozen in one container; sauce in another)

Lasagnas

I cut back on the normal spice level for the etouffe and enchilada sauce to make it nursing-mom friendly.

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Ditto on the soups/stews/casseroles. Just make sure the portions are BIG. I actually gained weight AFTER giving birth because I was completely famished all the time. I also really craved red meat at that time, so braised short ribs and beef stew-ey type preparations might go over well. You might want to stock their fridge with some good-quality salad mixes and bread as well. Remember that dinner time is the "witching hour" for most newborns, so if you could volunteer to look after the little one while mom & dad eat, they will love you forever. I don't think that I got a chance to actually chew my food for the first six months after the kid was born.

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For the freezer: stuffed peppers (too ethnic?), pasta with chicken and veggies, beef stew over rice, BBQ pork over grits.

Not that I've ever been a new parent, but I wonder if they might also want some snacks for the fridge for when they're too tired or busy to even heat up a meal. String cheese, cold cuts, that sort of thing. Good luck! It's a great gift.

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If the mom is nursing, some calorie-dense foods she can eat with one hand while nursing are very helpful. A close friend brought me these fantastic oatmeal cookies right after Colin and I came home from the hospital--oatmeal is a galactagogue (encourages lactation) and the cookies were packed with things like brewer's yeast and flaxseed for extra nutrients. Plus they had chocolate chips in them. I've made them for other new mothers since and they are always received well. Other foods in this vein: good nuts, especially if they're treated to a saute in butter and spiked with salt and seasonings. Total yogurt (well, that's sorta 2-handed, but I managed to down it anyway).

I had packed tons of chili and gumbo into the freezer and planned to make a bunch of other stuff in that vein when I broke my arm at 8 months. I also had packed away several cakes and several deli cups of assorted flavors of Italian buttercream before the arm incident. These cakes were very helpful since my parents and lots of other people were constantly in and out of the house once Colin came home. (They also meant I was able to serve homemade desserts to the out-of-town Bris attendees the night before the Bris, and then I had coffeecakes and whatnot to put out with the post-Bris brunch--so there was something homemade even though I couldn't cook with my arm in the cast.)

Some milder, sweeter versions of slow-cooked things you are comfortable with may be ok. I love spicy foods and was excited to no longer have heartburn and therefore be able to indulge postpartum. I don't know what sort of ethnic foods you make, but perhaps saucy Indian curries, Chinese clay-pot dishes, or pho would work ok--and they hold well.

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