One of the BEST gifts you can give a tired new parent (like the ones seen above gripping their coffees like their lives depend on it!!) is a delicious meal. Whether it’s delivered to their door or prepared right there in their kitchen while they snooze with the baby, it’s a gesture of kindness and consideration that goes a looooong way. Obviously, wait until everyone’s up for visitors–but once you get the green light, it is seriously something those deliriously tired new parents won’t ever forget. Not having to worry about what you’re going to feed yourself when you’re on hour 93 of sleep deprivation is. the. best. I’ve listed a couple of easy meals for new parents (and my friends and fam have already been on it–they’re the best!) that are healthy, delicious, and a few that freeze really well if you’re prepping in advance.
Wild Game Lasagna
(Photo from Honest Food)
Depending on the season, lasagna is the ULTIMATE comfort food! It’s a true labor-of-love dish that, if brought frozen for the new parents to heat and eat later, is going to make them feel all the love and alllll the cheesy, wild-game warm fuzzies. My favorite lasagna recipe that features wild game and is super good frozen is adapted from Honest Food–but the TLDR (too long, didn’t read) version is below! If you plan to freeze this dish for the ultimate comfort food prepped and ready to go later, make sure this cools 100% before wrapping and freezing it; similarly, write on the foil covering the lasagna that it needs to thaw completely after being frozen, and baked with the foil on for 30 minutes at 350, then foil off for 10-15 minutes or until the cheese is bubbling.
- 1 pound ground pork (or you can use wild boar if you have it)
- 2 pounds ground venison or ground beef (we pretty much always use elk!)
- 1 chopped onion
- 1 head of garlic, chopped
- 1 28- ounce can of crushed tomatoes
- 1 8- ounce can of tomato sauce
- 1 can of tomato paste
- 1 cup red wine
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
- 2 tablespoons dried oregano
- 1 15- ounce container of ricotta cheese
- 1 pound mozzarella cheese, shredded
- 1 cup grated pecorino or parmesan cheese
- 1/2 cup chopped parsley leaves
- 12 lasagna noodles
- Salt and pepper
Make the sauce. Brown the meat in a large, heavy pot like a Dutch oven. Take your time and do this in batches. It could take as long as 20 minutes. Put all the browned meat back in the pot and then add the chopped onions and cook for another 4 to 8 minutes, then add the garlic and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes. Add seasonings –oregano, basil, maybe a little cayenne if you want — and mix well.
Mix the wine and tomato paste and pour in the pot. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring often. Add the tomato sauce and can of crushed tomatoes and mix again. Bring to a simmer and cook slowly for 1 to 2 hours. This can be done as much as two days ahead of time.
Prepare the lasagna. Soak the lasagna noodles in hot water for 15 to 20 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Meanwhile, mix the parsley with the ricotta cheese in a bowl. Grate the pecorino or parmesan and shred the mozzarella.
To assemble, spread a good amount of the meat sauce on the bottom of a standard 9-inch by 13-inch casserole pan. Remove the lasagna noodles and lay on the meat sauce. Spread half the ricotta cheese mixture on the noodles, then half the mozzarella cheese, then 1/2 the pecorino.
Add another layer of meat sauce — you will have one final layer after this — then the rest of the noodles. Add the remaining ricotta and mozzarella, plus 1/2 of the remaining pecorino. Spread the remaining meat sauce on this, then sprinkle with the last bit of pecorino.
To cook, cover the lasagna with foil. You might want to spray the underside first with non-stick spray so the cheese doesn’t stick to it. Bake covered for 25 minutes. Carefully take off the foil and bake for another 25 minutes.
Pre-Marinated Meats for Grilling
You can make an ENTIRE meal around quality, well-seasoned and treated meat. Some of my favorites for prepping/freezing and then getting it ready to throw on the grill are:
- Shish-kabobs with JUST the meat on one side, add the veggies later if you’ll freeze. Marinate in 1 cup worcestershire, 1 cup soy sauce and 1 cup fresh lime juice.
- Barbecue pork (using either your favorite sauce or Traeger’s Apple Honey Pork Seasoning…droooooool!!) for sandwiches, carnitas, burritos, and more!
- Lemon and herb marinated whole chicken (we source our favorite chicken from Butcherbox!!) with a melted butter, garlic, lemon zest, thyme, and rosemary. Be suuuuuper careful if you plan to freeze this one, though!
Amazingly Easy Salad
Bringing new parents fresh food when they’ve likely been living off of carbs and coffee is a game-changer. Depending on the season, bring them a delicious salad that features berries and feta in the spring and summer, or a delicious pear and goat cheese salad in the fall and winter. If you think they’ll wait to eat the salad, don’t put it all together at once: bring the spring mix, kale, or spinach and all topping accoutrements separately. I remember craaaaving fresh greens after I had Leni, so this would’ve been perfect for us!
Chopped/Sliced Fresh Fruit
When I had Leni, along with craving salad, I was always reaching for fresh fruit: but it was January, sooooo…we made do with what we could find! It was a HUGE blessing and help to have sliced fruits and vegetables to snack on amidst the amazing cakes and comfort food items. After all, I was nursing AND trying to eat healthy food for my girl and myself. It makes recovery and beyond SO much better–and chances are, no one else will think to bring fruit and veggies to the new parents, so you’ll probably be their new favorite. NBD. If you wanted to be reeeeeal fancy, you can set up a charcuterie board for them with some great tips I wrote about here!
What’s your go-to when making a meal for someone else? What’s your biggest post-baby craving (moms AND dads)?! Let me know in the comments below, and I’ll be back with lots more soon!