Get on the Meal Train Train: Why to Join and What to Bring

When a coworker first offered to set up a meal train for our family when HEB was born, I was hesitant. Sure we had a new baby but I wasn’t incapable of making meals. Tyler wasn’t either. This brand baby honestly didn’t do anything. He just slept, cried, ate constantly, pooped constantly and all the other baby past time faves. Sure, we were changing diapers every hour and each feeding lasted 45 minutes and occurred every 2 hours but I wasn’t exactly busy per se.  I felt like we were taking advantage of people’s generosity and excitement over our new cutie.

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Haines on Christmas Day, 11 days old

Still, I’d never passed up a free meal and this didn’t seem like the time to start. Thank goodness! When it comes down to it here’s the deal:

  • Yes, new parents, you are capable of making meals. BUT even the simplest of meals is easily derailed by baby. For several weeks I really didn’t know what to do with Haines during meal prep. I couldn’t wear him while I cooked at the stove and we didn’t have a swing so I just kept him in his bed or his car seat when I needed my hands. There’s nothing (hopefully) wrong with this but I constantly questioned it. Plus every movement and sound he made was new and unnerving to me. Is he okay? Is he mad? Is his brain developing properly? Will he need therapy one day from how I’m ignoring him to make pasta right now? In the end meals were made. So far he doesn’t seem to resent me for my need to eat. But the burden and stress of getting fed greatly eased by the twice a week delivery of food we received.
  • More importantly, this is a time period that you can never get back. It will never again be you and your partner and this tiny baby, all brand new, figuring this out together. As much as I have struggled during this time I also know that I need to soak up every baby cuddle, every coo and giggle, every new discovery, every pool of drool because this just happens once. You’re only young once and so are your babies.

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Sometimes you end up on the other side of the meal train which means it’s your turn to repay the favor. Last week I was delighted to bring food over to a friend’s brand new baby and this week I’m setting up a meal train for a coworker. I’ve discovered that meal planning for others is stressful! I can’t help but worry if I’m bringing over something they’ll like. At the end of the day, every meal is appreciated but I’ve learned from my own experience the types of meals that were the most helpful.

Nutritional: Many of the meals we received were centered around carbs and cheese. Carbs and cheese represent the best things in life so this is not an issue, but it was really nice when someone also brought over a salad or a dish that centered around vegetables. Since I wasn’t being very active it helped me feel less slob-like.

Wine & Desserts: I gotta admit those kind folks that included a bottle of wine or a box of cookies with my meal were true winners. It was a total novelty to see alcohol and know I was allowed to drink it! I appreciated all those who understood how much I missed it and brought it directly to me.

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If you choose to bring over fancy doughnuts, they will be decimated before a photo can be taken. 

Take-out: Obviously not everyone can do take-out meals from restaurants. It’s certainly not within my meal train budget for others, but it was a huge treat when others did this for us. One person had a pizza delivered to us while two other individuals brought us take-out from some of our favorite restaurants. Since going out to eat is hard to do on a maternity leave budget, we really appreciated this!

Breakfast: The beginning of the day was always the hardest for me. I always had Tyler in the evenings but in the morning I was typically on my own for eating. I’ve heard of people bringing breakfast casseroles, muffins or other options that make for easy eating in the morning. I will definitely be gifting this to someone else down the line!

Snacks: While all the meals we received were wonderful, the best night was when a friend showed up with individually packaged snacks along with dinner. She brought over a bag with Ziplocs of pretzel sticks, snap pea crisps, mini-cookies, and homemade energy balls along with a few protein bars. It was heaven. I’d been struggling with foods that I could easily eat while nursing or holding HEB. The answer had arrived! It was something easy for her to do that was enormously helpful to me.

 

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