For someone who is normally very good at eating, I was shocked at how difficult the simple act of feeding myself became with a newborn. Any effort beyond eating food that someone else had placed in my hands felt unimaginable to my sleep-deprived brain. So now, when I’m strategizing about what to bring to friends with new babies, ease is the name of the game.
I look for foods that can be eaten with one hand or one utensil (no fork-and-knife meals here) and that are as nutritious as possible: foods with lots of fiber especially, with an emphasis on fresh fruits and veggies, which can easily fall by the wayside in rushed meals. I like to make sure all the preparation is done for the new parents, with little to no work required on their part (maybe microwaving at most, and I’ll write out clear microwaving instructions if so).
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Also, I know I likely won’t be the only one bringing food, so I prefer to pack things that keep for many days or can be frozen for a later time in case the new parents get overwhelmed.
Here are some of my favorite food gifts for new parents.
Yogurt, Fruit, and Granola
I like to bring a breakfast option as a nice change-up from their ever-present bowl of cereal. I’ll buy plain Greek yogurt (it keeps for a while before it’s opened), make homemade granola (or use store-bought in a pinch), and wash and cut the fruit so that it’s ready to go. Even better, you can cook down the fruit so that it lasts even longer and can be frozen if desired: Cook fresh berries with sugar and lemon juice into a compote, or sauté cut apples and pears with butter and cinnamon.
Maple-Pecan Skillet GranolaStore-bought granola is often made with ingredients you can't pronounce. Our homemade version is easy and wholesome—and packed with the flavors of maple, vanilla, and pecans.
Veggies and Dip
Fresh cut veggies with a tasty dip are an easy snack to have on hand. Wash and prep the vegetables and select hardy ones that will hold up for several days: peeled and cut carrot sticks, celery sticks, broccoli and cauliflower florets, or whole grape tomatoes all work well. Packaged hummus or ranch are great options, or make your own white bean dip or baba ghanoush.
White Bean DipThis easy dip is perfect with crudites or crackers.
Hearty, Nutritious Soup
A comforting soup is my go-to for a main dish. I prefer to pick one that’s heavy on beans or grains and pack it into several smaller containers that can easily be frozen and thawed as needed. My favorites are this chickpea soup (savory and comforting), this ribollita (thickened with bread for creaminess without heaviness), or this vegetarian chili (deeply complex flavor for vegetarians and omnivores alike).
Chickpea Soup with Pancetta and RosemaryThis deeply satisfying soup makes the most of what’s in the pantry.
Salads made with hearty greens, grains, and vegetables can last for days in the fridge and taste great cold or at room temperature; they're perfect for eating straight out of the container while holding a sleeping baby in your other arm. This Lemon-Oregano Chicken with Farro Salad makes a great all-in-one meal—just cut the chicken into bite-size cubes and toss it into the salad with all of the dressing (no need to reserve any for drizzling).
Kale Salad with Crispy Tofu and Miso-Ginger Dressing is another favorite that keeps well; the tofu and cashews will soften slightly as they sit but will be no less delicious. Sometimes I’ll add some thawed edamame for extra bulk, but I usually omit the avocado when making it ahead so that it doesn’t turn an unattractive brown.