Meal trains are such a helpful blessing to new moms and so many others, but did you know that there is an “etiquette” to meal trains? A new mom/reader once told me that her husband wanted to cancel their meal train calendar because every time their friends dropped off dinner, they would invite themselves in and stay for over an hour (during the notorious witching hour no less), leaving them both completely drained ahead of a long night with a newborn.
So today on the blog we are sharing a few etiquette pointers for meal trains. We hope you share this post to drop hints to your friends and family. Ha!
What is a Meal Train?
Meal trains/meal calendars are calendars set up my friends or family that help coordinate meals for loved ones when they are going through a big life change, whether that is the birth of a new baby or the death of a loved one. No matter what they are going through, setting up or helping to coordinate a meal train is a tangible way to support and care for your loved ones during this time. The website mealtrain.com is a good one.
How Do I Set Up a Meal Train for a Friend?
- Ask the recipient which meals they would prefer to receive, favorite restaurants, any dietary restrictions the family may have, and the best drop off time. Include all this information in their Meal Train profile.
- Four to six weeks is a generous amount of time for a meal train for a new mom. Three times a week is perfect.
- Leave a cooler on the porch that makes it easy for people to drop meal off if mom can’t come to the door.
Is There an “Etiquette” to Meal Trains?
Yes! Here are a four things to take into consideration:
- Typically, you only want to send someone’s meal train calendar to their friends who offered to bring a meal. Sure, it’s fine to send to a close knit community group but not someone’s entire contact list.
- Unless otherwise requested, drop off meals on doorstep and text that it’s there. If parents answer the door and invite you in, don’t stay more than 10 minutes! Of course, you can offer to come back and hold the baby and visit at a better time!
- Type in what type of food you are bringing in the meal train calendar (Zoe’s, lasagna, etc.) so people don’t duplicate too much. If you aren’t sure when you sign up, enter what you ended up bringing after you drop off.
- Give your meal in containers that can be thrown away or reused so the new mom doesn’t have to worry about returning your Tupperware. (One less thing for her to do!). I love this set.
- Use Favor or Uber Eats if you can’t make requested drop off time.
- Think about food that can keep for a few days or provide enough for leftovers.
- Gift cards to places that deliver are welcome and perfect from out of town friends.
- Don’t hesitate to text and offer a few suggestions to choose from. They may have had too much Italian and would be glad for something lighter!
- Make sure to bring kid-friendly foods for families with multiple children.
- Avoid spicy foods for nursing mothers.
- As a nice added bonus, bring breakfast food for the following morning, such as muffins, bagels, and fruit salad.
- For a thoughtful touch for new moms, include lactation cookies! I love Miracle Milkookies. They have both original and dairy/gluten free kookies!
What Happens if Someone’s Meal Calendar Fills Up?
Gift cards are great. Or, even better, drop off lunch foods that the new mom can enjoy all week. Include things like chicken salad, egg salad, pasta salad, sliced turkey or ham, salad mix, a good loaf of bread — basically things to munch on all week for lunch or dinner! This post will give you inspiration for a lunch foods basket.
Make sure to browse our “Meal Train” Pinterest board for my favorite meal train recipes that are sure to be crowd pleasers.
I took dinner to a friend who had a baby girl and included Jenny Steffens Hobick’s peach and blackberry pie tart. I used a rectangular tart pan and added homemade whipped cream for an extra special touch! She also has a set of three market tote bags available.
And if you want to include a little gift with the meal you drop off, be sure to browse our Get Well Gift Guide for thoughtful gift inspiration!