Don’t Fear the MealTrain: Delivering Family-Friendly Meals for Common Dietary Restrictions

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The postpartum adjustment is tough whether it’s your first or your fourth. One of the biggest blessings in the first weeks with a new baby has been the meals that friends and family have delivered to us. It’s been a lifesaver when recovery was difficult, and I couldn’t get around easily for a while. Even when I’ve had easier recoveries, I’ve been chasing after kiddos while re-adjusting to newborn life, and by dinnertime I’m exhausted.

Thanks to our digital age, there are many meal sign-up services where dates can be selected and the link can be distributed to friends and family for food support. But as allergies and dietary preferences seem to become more common, some people might be hesitant to sign up to take a meal. Don’t be scared! That new mama needs help!

Expand your recipe repertoire with family-friendly, easily-deliverable meals that fit within common dietary restrictions. Because I have been blessed with dozens of meals after the arrivals of my babies, I know how appreciated meals can be and deliver them as often as I can. Here are a few of my favorites.

Standard, no restrictions:

Meatballs – Kids love meatballs! This is always a hit and can easily be adapted for many dietary preferences.

Taquitos – Another kid-friendly favorite, these are easy to put together and bake.

King Ranch Chicken Casserole – Sometimes a casserole is the most comforting thing in a transition time. Classically midwestern with a Texas twist.

Gluten-free:

Meatballs – Make your own meatballs without breadcrumbs, and include a box of gluten-free pasta (don’t cook ahead or it will be gummy). Roasted baby carrots and salad would be good sides with this.

Rotisserie chicken – This is a tasty shortcut! Costco and Sam’s have rotisserie chickens for around $5 that are labeled as gluten-free, so deliver that slow-roasted goodness with homemade (or not) veggies, mashed potatoes, and some frozen fruit popsicles.

Dairy-free:

Taco soup – Sometimes not everyone in the family is dairy-free, so meals like taco soup or a taco bar put the dairy as optional add-ons instead of main ingredients. (make sure you find a recipe like this that does not use ranch) This is also gluten-free.

Pulled pork or shredded chicken sandwiches – So easy in your slow cooker or instant pot! Add your favorite BBQ sauce, buns, and some veggie sides.

Vegan:

Nachos – Sounds impossible, right? Whip up a batch of this vegan nacho “cheese” and include chips, lettuce, tomatoes, black beans, and salsa.

Roasted Veggie Power Bowl – This could be adapted for any veggies and is easy to pack and transport. (And if you’re not used to plant-based meals, give it a try and make some extra for yourself!)

Other meal delivery tips:

Online meal sign-ups usually email reminders, but write it down in another place you’ll be sure to look.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact the family about specific ingredients or preferences.

Take disposable pans and containers.

If you know the mama well enough, a bottle of wine would not be turned down.

Don’t get overwhelmed by feeling you have to make a whole meal from scratch. Take shortcuts for a couple items to fill out the meal and save your sanity.

And if you really don’t want to cook or it doesn’t fit in your schedule, ask for their favorite restaurant and send over a gift card. Then they can choose foods that fit their allergies and preferences.

So the next time you see a new mama whose family has some dietary guidelines, please don’t get intimidated! There are some easy and tasty options for showing any family some tangible love during their postpartum adjustment.

Fear not the MealTrain!

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Wife of 12 years to Brett, and a laid-back SAHM with a crew of three girls (7, 4, 2) and a boy (newborn) through birth and adoption. A Kansas girl from the start, she grew up in Lawrence, went to SBU, then taught everything from pre-K to high school. After nine years in Austin, she's back in the KC area balancing introvert tendencies and active children. Her happy place is in the kitchen, trying new recipes and experimenting with old favorites. When not hugging her minivan or slow cooker, she's pursuing eating well and dressing well – on a budget! She talks food, family, and fun on her blog Life on Olive Street.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Thanks for the tips. Our Bible study group uses the meal train and it is great. I try to sign up most of the time a little further down the line to where I can see what others are bringing. I then try to bring something a little different. I have just got a gift card for them as well, to where they can get what they want.
    This was a great article. Thanks!

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