What's the best baby shower gift for a friend who is having a baby? In my opinion, skip the cute onesie and BRING FOOD. A healthy, home-cooked meal delivered to a new mom's door, ready to eat, is an amazing gift any time, but especially when you’re trying to adjust to one of life’s curve balls. I remember my mother bringing foil-covered lasagnas to neighbors after a birth or death in the family. Now our generation is continuing that awesome tradition with the help of a modern resource: online meal registries which make organizing deliveries amongst friends much easier.
Two websites offering this service for free are MealBaby.com and MealTrain.com. Both are very similar, sort of like baby shower registries, but for food. Friends and relatives are invited to go online and “sign up” to bring a family a meal on a given date. Much like a gift registry prevents you from getting 12 bouncy seats, a meal registry is meant to avoid you receiving a dozen casseroles on the first night you’re home from the hospital. It’s also easier to organize for a big group of people. My mom’s group switched to online meal registries over the summer, so even though we weren’t meeting we were able to continue food deliveries to members who had children over the summer.
Here’s how MealBaby.com and MealTrain.com work:
- Sign on and create a free registry for yourself or a friend. Indicate when the person wants to start receiving meals and for how long. Share details of the number of people in the receiving family as well as any food likes/dislikes and allergies. Enter the recipient’s address, contact information and any special notes for people making deliveries.
- Enter email addresses of people you want to invite to take part in the registry and sign up to bring meals.
- People invited to the registry will be able to go online and sign up for a date to deliver a meal or in some cases to purchase a gift certificate to a local restaurant. They will be able to indicate what recipe or type of meal they will be delivering, as well as make any changes if needed.
- Anyone who signs up to provide a meal will receive a reminder email the day before it is due to be delivered.
Pretty easy, right? Now what about the other tricky part of meal chains, deciding what to make! It can be tough to come up with healthy dishes that are easy to transport and deliver, especially here in NYC where we often have to pack them into our strollers and schlep them several blocks without spilling them everywhere. Well MealBaby.com helps you out there too. There’s a new blog on the website to share tips and recipes for delivery-friendly meals.
The “Etiquette” page on MealTrain.com offers some advice to consider when taking part in meal deliveries. For example, it suggests minding how long you stay when delivering a meal. Depending on the situation, the recipient may not be up for entertaining yet. On the logistical side, it reminds to include any instructions needed for preparation (like how long to bake) and to be sure to include a tip if you order food instead.
A food registry is an awesome baby gift idea for new mom, especially if she already has a child and doesn't need much in the way of stuff. It comes in handy for helping out during hospitalizations, deaths and other life events too. Cooking and sharing meals is a great way to create community and support friends and online meal registries make it that much easier. Let us know ways you have provided or shared meal duties with other families that have worked for you.
For other great baby posts check out our Baby Guide.