We’ve got some good news to share here in the Test Kitchen. Mallory is expecting her first child in April. Exciting! And, since we’re all food people, this has got us all thinking about what sorts of great meals we can bring to Mallory and her husband once they’ve got their hands—quite literally—full.
If you’ve ever had a newborn in the house, you know what Mallory and her husband have to look forward to. Cooking can fall right off the agenda for days, if not weeks. Sleepy parents have to navigate the kitchen with one hand and even prepping a salad can seem overwhelming. Bottles and baby gear take over the dish rack and the very thought of scrubbing a pan might send Mom or Dad over the edge.
Thank goodness for friends and colleagues who can step in and stock the new parents’ freezer with wholesome, homemade food. In the Test Kitchen, we’ve developed some easy make-ahead meals that go so easily from freezer to oven to table than even a bleary-eyed new parent can do it. And Becky, who’s a lucky grandma now, wrote a lovely post about helping out neighbors with a new baby a few years ago.
Here are some of my favorites:
A pasta casserole this flavorful is quick to put together and makes a tasty any night meal.
Mexican casserole is layered with tomatoes, cheese, and corn chips for a guaranteed family favorite!
Layers of cheese, seasoned sausage and pasta in this recipe will perk up your family's appetites.
Seasoned ground beef is wrapped in pizza crust and combines Italian and Mexican flavors in this recipe.
This chicken enchilada recipe has a great south-of-the-border flavor with seasoned chicken and black beans.
Caramelized onions add the perfect touch of sweetness to these mini meat loaves.
Baked macaroni and cheese that is a classic creamy mac and cheese recipe baked to perfection.
Whatever you decide to bring, here are some tips to keep in mind:
- Contact the parents in advance. Arrange a good time to stop by or just leave a cooler by the door.
- Ask about any dietary restrictions. You need to know if anyone in the family has allergies or if the nursing mom is avoiding spicy foods. Ask about cravings, too. Are the parents craving comfort food or lean, healthy food?
- Bring a complete meal. Pack some washed and chopped lettuce, a separate bottle of dressing, a loaf of bread, and—of course!—don’t forget dessert. These Butter Toffee Cookies are perfect.
- Include reheating instructions. Tape a slip of paper to the dish, including what’s inside, the date, how long to reheat and at what temperature, whether to thaw first or not, whether to heat covered or uncovered, and any other special notes.
- Use disposable containers. That way there’s no need to wash and return. Or, if disposable isn’t your style, buy some cute, inexpensive containers and make it clear that they are your gift to the new family.
- Send lots of food, but in smaller portions. A big casserole is great for several meals, but it’s even more convenient if you divide it up into smaller portions so they can be frozen and reheated separately.
- Be efficient! While you’re in the kitchen cooking for your friends, make another meal for yourself and freeze it.
I can’t wait to meet Mallory’s new baby—and I can’t wait to do my little part to make her and her husband’s first few weeks as parents just a little easier.