Jump On Board the Meal Train

Besides the joy of welcoming a newborn into the world, do you want to know a way to make new parents even happier? Participate in a Meal Train! As I alluded to over the winter when I said my wife and I were “working on expanding our family”, we had a baby! We welcomed our beautiful baby girl into the world in March and she’s just awesome. My attention to creative dinner plans right after her birth, on the other hand, left something to be desired.

One-Pot Chicken and Rice, Cheesy Potato Gratin, and Chicken Enchiladas – these dishes have all been on the menu at my house recently, but neither my wife nor I had to cook them. Along with gifts of baby clothes, gently used nursery items and baby-wearing gear, friends and coworkers shared perhaps the most generous gift of all: food. Using a simple website started by a few fellow Burlingtonians, our friends coordinated a series of meal drop-offs for us so that we wouldn’t have to worry about cooking. Life changes profoundly when a new baby comes along, so having a series of hot meals planned and brought to our door made the transition all the more enjoyable.

I’ve been on the giving end of a Meal Train in the past, but it wasn’t until I was on the receiving end that I realized its magical powers. For each person participating, cooking up an extra meal, or even creating a double batch of something (one for their household, the other to share), may not feel like a lot of work, but cumulatively, all those dinners, lunches, and treats add up to an impressive series of feasts. Along with easily re-heatable dishes like the ones mentioned above, folks sent us fresh salads, homemade cider, and adorable little love notes to our new baby.

Another benefit of the meal train concept is that you end up with a steady, evenly-spaced stream of visitors. As we were just figuring out the whole parenting thing, seeing a friendly face once a day was great. We got a little bit of social time and helpful guidance from friends with kids of their own, plus folks got to meet our little one. A win-win for everyone!

Do you have friends who are expecting a baby soon? Consider setting up a Meal Train for them. They’ll thank you for it! For an easy-to-share recipe idea, check out One-Pot Curried Chicken and Brown Rice, a delicious dish from my coworker, Caroline.