Meals to make and give to new parents

Recipes that come to the rescue when babies are keeping 'em busy!

Recipes that come to the rescue when babies are keeping 'em busy!

(Photography, left: David Bagosy; middle: Leila Ashtari; right: Kyla Zanardi)

Onesies and stuffed animals are super cute, but dropping off dishes for people running very low on sleep is one of the best ways you can help care for new parents — according to parents. 

But what meals are best to make for your doorstep deliveries? I asked the parents on the CBC Life team to share their advice. Two main recipe categories stood out: freezable foods and dishes that will keep in the fridge for a few days. Both are excellent options because there's no pressure to eat them upon delivery, or all in one go. This list of comforting and convenient fridge- and freezer-friendly meals includes lots of recipes for you to choose from. It also includes a bundle of recipes for quick breakfasts or snacks that require no prep whatsoever on the new parents' end, as well as non-perishable treats to make if batch cooking isn't your thing. 

When it's time to deliver your gift, skip the impromptu visit and consider texting to arrange a drop-off time. Steer clear of doorbells and loud knocks in case baby is sleeping. One colleague shared what he calls the pro-est of pro tips; his friends dropped off dinner porchside and didn't tell him until they left, making it a truly zero-pressure moment. 

Some babies can be sensitive to spicy foods or garlic that is passed through breastmilk. Many of these recipes feature ingredients that can be left out as needed, or when in doubt, check in with the parents to find out if there are any ingredients they'd prefer you skip.

Freezer-friendly standouts

If they've got some freezer space to spare (always check first!),these dishes are sure to please. If you'd like to gift your meal already frozen, food writer Jessica Brooks shares lots of great tips for freezing foods properly

Khoresh Ghormeh Sabzi

(Photography by Eric Wolfinger)

This recipe from Naz Deravian is a fresh herb stew you can gift in meal-sized containers so they can put one in the fridge to enjoy immediately and set the rest in the freezer for another night. 

Rapini and Sausage Baked Pasta

Gift a cheesy, baked pasta they can pull from the freezer, put right into the oven and enjoy in less than an hour. This recipe yields enough for two 2-quart trays of pasta, so you could keep one for yourself, no judgment.

Pork and Chive Dumplings

(Credit: Jackie Kai Ellis)

A big batch of these Chinese dumplings from chef Jackie Kai Ellis' family recipe vault yields 250-300 dumplings, so you can halve the recipe, keep some for yourself, or send over the whole batch (if they've got the freezer space). To keep the dumplings from sticking together, freeze them on a baking sheet before adding them to freezer-friendly containers. 

Big Batch Meatballs with Meatball Soup with White Beans and Greens

(Photo: David Bagosy, Styling: Melissa Direnzo)

This is a two-part present. First, you make a big batch of these versatile meatballs. Then, you use a dozen of them to make this meatball soup. They can enjoy the soup right away, and have the rest of the meatballs another night. 

Ricotta Gnudi 

This is a gift they can tuck inside the freezer for a meal that can be ready in under ten minutes. Freeze the Gnudi on a baking sheet, and then pop them into a freezer bag. They'll just need to boil the Gnudi and add them to butter, sage, garlic and shallots. 

Hot or Cold Beet-Fennel Soup

(Photography by Ellen Silverman)

This vibrant soup from Dorie Greenspan is a great freezable food gift for all seasons. 

Grandma Gretzky's Great Perogies

(Credit: Klorofil Publishing)

A homemade batch of these cheesy perogies will keep wonderfully in the freezer. To prevent them from sticking together, freeze them first on a sheet pan before packaging them for gifting. 

Meals that will keep in the fridge

It was clear from new parents on the Life team that meals that can be stored in the fridge without fear of them going bad the first night make extra special gifts. And, to make your meal most helpful, the less assembly required the better. Consider options served in one dish instead of those that require reheating and assembly of parts from different containers. 

Lasagne Verde Alla Bolognese

(Photography by Eric Wolfinger)

Lasagna was well-mentioned as a winning dinner by the parents I talked to. This one, with its homemade bechamel, ragu, and noodles is truly a labour of love. 

Vegetable Biryani

(Photography by Leila Ashtari)

This crowd-pleasing vegan dish is a wonderful gift for a celebratory time.

Lentil Shepherd's Pie

For vegetarians and meat-lovers alike, deliver in an oven-safe casserole dish so they can keep it in the fridge and pop it into the oven when they wish. 

Samosa Pie

(Credit: Hungry Gap Productions Ltd.)

Nadiya Hussain took her "all-time favourite street food snack and turned it into [a] favourite picnic pie." It'll keep in the refrigerator and can be reheated in the oven, no picnic required.

Beaton's Mac & Cheese

(Photography by Lindsay Anderson and Dana VanVeller)

This cheesy dinner is the pinnacle of comfort (even if it's just for a few spare minutes). Leftovers reheat wonderfully, so parents can dig in for a few days. 

Mustard Seed Roasted Vegetable, Barley, and Bean Salad

(Photography by Allison Day)

This salad was made to yield leftovers and hold up in the fridge. Deliver it in one big container, or read the recipe notes for how to package it in four individual, layered-jar meals. 

Lamb and Apricot Pine Nut Pilaf

(Photography by Leila Ashtari)

This lovely one-pot dish from Shayma Owaise Saadat is "studded with fork-tender chunks of lamb, spiced with cardamom, cinnamon, clove and other heady spices" and would make such a comforting meal for new parents to turn to.

Roasted Chicken Noodle Soup with Fresh Herbs

(Photo: David Bagosy, Styling: Melissa Direnzo)

This cozy pot of soup offers up a bit of a shortcut on your end. No need to roast a chicken to make this meal, simply pick up a rotisserie chicken at the grocery store and you're well on your way to having a delightful dinner to share. 

Easy breakfasts, snacks and more

Most people focus on dinnertime ideas, but new parents can grab these breakfast and snack recipes whenever they have a free moment. Most of these treats can be kept for a few days on the counter.

Cheddar and Herb Breakfast Buns

(Photo: David Bagosy, Styling: Melissa Direnzo)

These rolls will be a hit with savoury breakfast fans. You could try to time your delivery so they can be eaten warm from the oven — but they're just as delicious at room temperature, too. 

Baked Oatmeal Cups

(Photography by Kyla Zanardi)

What's faster than making a bowl of oatmeal? These baked versions they can reach for all day long.

Banana Bread Granola

(Photography by Kyla Zanardi)

A from-scratch granola in a favourite flavour combo makes a beautiful snacking gift. Put it in a cute, air-tight jar and add a tub of yogurt.

PB&J Thumbprint Breakfast Cookies

A grab-and-go vegan breakfast that can be eaten with one hand. 

Green Tea Muffins with Sweet Azuki Beans

(Credit: Meg Tanaka and Zenta Tanaka)

You can double the recipe to make a whole dozen of these.   

Powerhouse Granola Bars

Made with exhausted new parents in mind, this recipe from chef Shahir Massoud is something they can keep in the fridge (or freezer, for up to three months) and reach for whenever they need a little pick-me-up. 

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