Food Box for New Parents

Food for New Parents | Simple Provisions

Food for New Parents | Simple Provisions

A universal truth related to new parents is that if you turn up on their doorstep bearing food, you will be welcomed. They will usher you in to their home in a wave of gratitude and relief, allowing you to swap said food for baby cuddles. Sure, the food is a trojan horse for cradling a newborn and smelling their baby smell, but you will successfully trick the tired parents into thinking you’ve been ever so thoughtful.

A food box is a great gift. It has the obvious benefits of feeding frazzled parents, relieving them of meal planning and shopping for at least one meal. But it is also a gift full of care and nurturing, one that will be remembered long after the baby has tossed aside another teddy bear.

Food for New Parents | Simple Provisions

I imagine that if I was newly unpregnant I’d be very excited about sushi, soft cheeses and cured meats, and would gratefully receive a giant leg of prosciutto. That would make an excellent food box, other ideas include breakfast burritos that can be frozen, reheated and eaten with one hand, tacos with all the accompaniments, pasta with homemade sauce and garlic bread or an Indian inspired box, like I made this weekend.

Food for New Parents | Simple Provisions

Dal is a regular fixture in my house. It’s easy to make and can be stretched to several meals (it’s also an excellent vehicle for vegetables that have lingered in the crisper a little too long, though not when you’re making it for someone else!). Served with brown rice and dosas, an Indian style savoury pancake, you’ve got a very comforting meal. It’s also incredibly healthy, boasting many vitamins and minerals new mothers need to stock up on. There’s protein in the lentils, vitamins A, C and iron in the spinach and brown rice provides low-GI wholegrain carbs to prop up energy stores. It also reheats well and is easy to eat when distracted.

Food Box for New Parents | Simple Provisions

When preparing a food box, use containers that you don’t need back – new parents have no energy to track dishes through their kitchen and back to their owners. I used take-away containers that can be recycled or kept for re-use, and I packed them into a large plastic tub that will come in handy for future food or as a container for baby paraphernalia. I got crafty and had some fun decorating it to add a more personal touch.

Provide some instructions on how to reheat and serve the meal. For this box, reheating the rice and dal is straightforward in a pot or microwave. The dosas can be heated up in a frying pan and served alongside the dal with some pickles on the side. Mango chutney or yoghurt would also be great accompaniments. Grating some fresh carrot and beetroot over the top with a sprinkle of coriander will fancy up the dish, but if this seems too fiddly for hungry parents, that’s fine too.

Food Box for New Parents | Simple Provisions

Of course, this meal isn’t only for new parents, you can enjoy it any time you need some nurture and comfort in your day. But if there are new parents in your life, I’m sure they’d appreciate this food box, and you can enjoy the baby cuddles in return.

Dal

Serves 3-4 as a main, 6 if served with other curries. (This makes more than what I packed up, we ate it for dinner too. It can be eaten with or without rice.)

  • 225g (8oz) red lentils
  • 1.2 litres (2 pints) water
  • 3 cloves
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 50g (2 oz) butter
  • 1 bag spinach
  • salt and pepper

Boil lentils in salted water with the cloves for about 20 minutes, until completely mushy. The suggested amount of water makes a soupy dal. If you like something a bit sturdier, use less water.

Toast the coriander, mustard and cumin seeds in a hot pan until fragrant.

Add the spices to the lentils and stir in the butter and spinach till spinach is wilted. Season to taste.

Recipe adapted from Food From The Place Below by Bill Sewell

Brown Basmati Pilau

Serves 4-6 (This makes more than what I packed up, we ate it for dinner too.)

  • 500g (2 1/2 cups) brown basmati rice
  • 3 tbs ghee or vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 4 cloves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 small cinnamon stick
  • 4 green cardamom pods
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 1.25 lts (5 cups) water
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Wash the rice under cold running water then leave to soak in cold water for 25 minutes.

Heat the ghee or oil in a heavy-based pan (I used a stock pot) and add the cumin seeds, cloves, bay leaf, cinnamon and cardamom pods. When they crackle, add the sliced onion and cook until golden.

Drain the rice, add to the pan and cook for 2-3 minutes to coat the grains in the oil and spices.

Add the water and salt and bring to the boil.

Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook for 20 minutes, or until the rice is tender and the water has been absorbed. Remove from the heat and stir the rice gently to mix. Cover the pan and leave to rest for 15 minutes.

From Curry by Vivek Singh

Dosas

Makes 5-6

  • 1/2 cup rice flour
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 1/4 tsp mustard seeds
  • Pinch of salt
  • Vegetable oil

Add the flours, bicarb, mustard seeds and salt to a bowl and gradually whisk in enough water (about a cup) to make a loose batter.

In a lightly oiled hot pan, add a spoonful of batter and twist the pan so that the batter coats the base. Cook like you would pancakes, turning when the moisture on top starts to cook away and there are lots of bubbles. Flip and cook for another minute or so, until that side is golden as well.

Serve alongside the dal and rice. They can be reheated in a hot pan.

Green Tomato Pickles

I used Stephanie Alexander’s recipe from the original Cook’s Companion to turn a bush full of green tomatoes into lovely pickles. It’s probably not very traditional to serve them alongside Indian food, but a jar of pickles never goes to waste in a pantry, so I thought I’d include it.

39 thoughts on “Food Box for New Parents

  1. Wow. That’s a beautiful package for new parents. Puts my usual lasagna to shame! Your dal sounds lovely and nourishing. I made dosas on the weekend too – perfect fare for this chilly weather.

      • Sorry for the late reply Amelia. I did see Pip’s fab dosas but my inspiration came earlier, from my gluten-intolerant niece – I wanted to see if it was possible to make GF dosas. And it was indeed!
        Also popping in to say I’m looking forward to meeting you on Saturday!

  2. I reckon – yum. I’m at the stage of life where comfort cuisine is needed for illness and deaths – but this will still fit the bill nicely! Beautiful thoughts.

  3. I love this! I will never forget when my aunt and uncle brought me a huge box of fresh grilled salmon, pesto, and pasta, shortly after I cam home from the hospital. That gift stuck out in my mind (and still does 5 years later) as the absolute, best thing to do for someone with a newborn. I love the idea of the decorations as well…..and the food looks delicious of course!

  4. This looks absolutely delicious, and with our new little Belle just 6 days old I hope some of my friends see this and get the hint! Certainly the perfect gift for new parents. Will make the dal myself anyway though..yum!

  5. I cannot express how absolutely kickass this was. I saw the dosa on Pip’s blog too and have been craving it ever since (pregnancy cravings continue into newborn weeks, fyi!) so this gift brought a tear to my eye! SO thankful to you Amelia! You are truly a dream neighbour (and newborn cuddles are awaiting you as soon as our house is germ free!) Thank you for the awesome love xox

  6. Hi Amelia, I’m a friend of Brenno’s and she recommended your blog. I’ve checked you out on Fb, pinterest and now subscribe to the emails (if you do anything, I’ll know about it!). Seem’s that you’re just as amazing as Kerrie! I was inspired by this post to make a lentil dahl dinner pack from my friend with a newborn. She was probably as happy to receive it, as I was to eat the chocolate cake that aunty Helen had dropped off on her food delivery/baby cuddle mission. Good karma on all of us!

    • Hi Sarah! Thanks so much for your lovely comment. Kerrie obviously needs a pay rise for her PR work! Very happy to hear that the baby box worked well and that cuddles AND chocolate cake resulted from it. :)

  7. I hope someone makes me this when I get home from the hospital! This is such a great idea for new parents.

    • One of the pregnant girls at my work told me that she’d forwarded this post on to her friends to let them know what to do! Maybe you should do the same ;)

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