Simple Provisions

Food does not need to be fancy to be celebrated

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.


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


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. Saskia says:

    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.

    1. Amelia says:

      Snap on the dosas! Did you by chance make them because Pip posted them on Meet Me At Mikes? That’s what prompted me.

      1. Saskia (1=2) says:

        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. Amelia says:

        Oh that’s great news! See you there :)

  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.

    1. Amelia says:

      Gifting food is good at any stage of life.

  3. annmahnet says:

    I love the contents of this food box — so exotic and different from the typical lasagna. Thanks for the terrific ideas!

    1. Amelia says:

      You’re welcome Ann

  4. Thanks for the great ideas. With so many weddings in my family, the rest is sure to follow!

    1. Amelia says:

      That’s how it usually goes! :)

  5. Great idea to help out new parents!

  6. 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!

    1. Amelia says:

      Fresh grilled, salmon, pesto and pasta sounds delicious! Great idea.

  7. Fabulous idea! I love it. I always hope to bless a family with a meal when they welcome a new child. Deciding what to bring is the hardest part though!

    1. Amelia says:

      It is! Though I imagine new parents would happily accept anything.

  8. 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!

    1. Amelia says:

      Congratulations! What a beautiful name. I hope you get loads of food boxes to keep you going :)

  9. Keryn says:

    Such a great idea. Love it!

  10. I love to give dinner gifts to new parents! I especially love your packaging here. Fabulous food too!

    1. Amelia says:

      Thank you! I had fun with the packaging, I don’t get to flex my crafty muscles very often these days. It’s a bit of fun.

  11. romysaizunde says:

    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

    1. Andrew K. says:

      As the co-recipient of this wonderfully fun and thoughtful gift, I cannot thank you enough for the awesomeness! It was SO delicious.

      I have instructed Noah to reserve a plentiful supply of his warmest and squishiest new baby hugs for you. He replied with a series of gruntles and huffs, which I assume were affirmative.

      1. Amelia says:

        Better be ;)

    2. Amelia says:

      You are very welcome! Congratulations on Noah’s arrival xx

  12. Sarah P says:

    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!

    1. Amelia says:

      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. :)

  13. What a beautiful treat!! Lovely

  14. jenabrown24 says:

    This looks delicious! I recently made a lasagna for a friend with a new baby. Food is always such a great gift.

    1. Amelia says:

      I’m sure your friend greatly appreciated the lasagna. You’re right, food is always welcome!

  15. Jenny P says:

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

    1. Amelia says:

      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 ;)

  16. This is such a great idea!! I am putting that into my memory bank for when some of my friends are pregnant. Thanks for sharing x

  17. I’m getting hungry now when I saw this recipe! It looks so delicious really! Wanna try this at home Amelia!Thanks!

    1. Amelia says:

      I hope you do and you enjoy it Will.

  18. This is so thoughtful! Haha, and I absolutely LOVE how the food is just a means to get into the house to smell that new baby smell ;)

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