Freezer Meals to Take New Parents

[Photo by Sven Scheuermeier]

“A family in my sister’s neighborhood was recently stricken with a double tragedy, when both the young mother and her three-year-old son were diagnosed with cancer. When Catherine told me about this, I could only say, shocked, “Dear God, that family needs grace.” She replied firmly, “That family needs casseroles,” and proceeded to organize the entire neighborhood into bringing that family dinner, in shifts, every single night, for an entire year. I do not know if my sister fully recognizes that this IS grace.” – Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat Pray Love

Excuse me whilst I tear up for a moment, because that quote gets me every time. I think about it quite often, because to me it seems like the perfect way to show someone you care. I show my love with food. If you know me in person, I have probably foisted meals or baked goods on you at some point. I’m similarly obsessed with this article (one of the best things I’ve ever read on the Internet, and something that I return to often); there’s no doubt that food is a big part of community, and having rebuilt a community after moving miles away from my childhood home, it strikes me as integral in keeping that community together. 

 I think it’s pretty well documented that having a baby is one of the most stressful and difficult times in someone’s life, right? It seems like it’s quite a tradition in the States to bring casseroles and snacks for new parents, but not so much in the UK. But we’re all guilty of letting meals slide when we’re feeling overwhelmed, resorting to microwave options and takeaways more than is probably good for us, so when our close friends, who had similarly moved far away from their own support network, had a baby earlier this year, it made sense to pack their freezer full of meals.

I did my research, having never had a baby of my own before, on what would actually be useful, rather than just cluttering up space. It turns out, there’s no hard and fast rules – but if you want to err on the side of caution then stick to meals that are easy to reheat, easy enough to eat with one hand (in case the baby is in the other) and include some sundries (microwave rice packets, par-baked bread etc.) to make things complete and as simple as possible. Then it’s just a case of cooking it up, and portioning into freezer bags. Make sure you label the bags with the name of the dish, the date you made it and any special instructions for cooking. You can definitely spread the load, too! Get a whole bunch of you involved and you could cook up a month’s worth of meals without much effort at all. 

What else? I also threw in some pre-cut fresh fruit (good for vitamins and freshness), some nice juice (ditto) and some of my freezer cookies, because everyone needs freshly baked cookies. Oh, and pizzas. Because, obviously. 

The other bit of advice I read time and again is to not crowd the new parents. Whilst baby cuddles are definitely one of the purest joys in the world (and I’ll admit to sneaking one in when I dropped my parcels of food off…) – make your visit quick, tell your friends that they are heroes and expect to catch up with them for longer at a later date. 

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  • A pasta bake would ALWAYS be welcome! And just as good if it goes cold after you’ve heated it up because you couldn’t eat straight away – which I imagine happens all the time!

    • Good point! Food that tastes as good cold as it does hot is a very good shout! To be fair, I would be happy if someone brought round a dish of pasta covered in cheese at any point!

  • I actually spent all of last night cooking away to fill my sister in laws freezer! I think it’s one of the loveliest things you can do for someone – when my little cousin passed away we relied so much on people turning up with food parcels, I don’t think we would have eaten without it! x

    Sophie Cliff

    • You’re a superstar! It’s so easy to let it slip when self care is the last thing on your mind – and there’s so many times when that might be the case. It’s lovely that you are passing on the good karma! x

  • That quote had me a bit glassy eyed too :(! But how true it is!

    My mum is the kind of person who would do this. In fact, my grandmother has been diagnosed with quite severe dementia and grandad isn’t coping very well with caring for… so my mum has been making them meals for the week, while my dad drives them 100 miles to pop them in their freezer. My mum calls it ‘cupboard love’ and I think it’s one of the best forms of love out there!

    Flora

    http://www.theeverchanginghome.com

    • I’m sorry to hear that Flora, that must be really tough for your family. It’s nice to have a little concrete thing you can actually ‘do’ in the face of all that, and it definitely shows them how much you care! x