New Momma Take-In Tray

A few years ago when I had my fourth baby boy, my friend, Lesli, brought me dinner. When she walked in my first thought was, “Who else is she taking dinner to tonight?” She had an armful of food and goodies. When it was all unloaded, I realized it was all for me and my family. I can’t tell you what a blessing it was that night (and days after as we used the things she brought). Since then, I’ve taken Lesli’s example and used it for when I need to take dinner to a new mother. This idea could be extrapolated to any type of situation that requires a meal being brought to a person or family in need.

Enter the New Momma Take-In Tray. What you see here is what I always include on my list to take to a new mother. I thought I’d share the information since I know many of you are bustling around taking dinner to friends and neighbors and family, too.

Let’s break it down, shall we?

New Momma Take-In Tray

1. Main Dish: In this case it was Baked Penne with Chicken, Broccoli and Smoked Mozz. Here is a category filled with other great ideas for take-in meals.

2. Side #1: I usually like to include a bread of sorts, since you never know how other people’s kids eat (assuming the new mother has other children at home besides the new babe). In the event these so-called children want to gag at the thought of what the main dish is (perhaps the parents are gagging too), a bread is sure to fill up their bellies. Pictured here is my favorite french bread recipe, this time made with 100% whole wheat flour and 1 cup of ground flax meal in place of the all-purpose flour. Other great ideas for a bread are cornbread, rolls, breadsticks, etc.

3. Side #2: Usually I keep this pretty boring. In this case, it was a salad with homemade croutons and a tupperware of dressing from my fridge. Other times it is just a bag of frozen peas, broccoli, fresh cut up veggies, something like that.

4. Dessert: What we’ve got here is a simple stack of chocolate chip cookies tied up with a pipe cleaner because I’m classy like that. Cookies or brownies make a great take-in dessert, mostly because I usually have them in my freezer already baked and ready to go so it means I don’t have to fuss about it while assembling the other parts of dinner.

5. Oatmeal Pancake Mix: I like to throw a bag of my go-to whole wheat oatmeal pancake mix on the tray for the family to enjoy later (maybe even for another dinner!).

6. Buttermilk: Because not everyone has buttermilk on hand for the aforementioned pancake mix, I’ll usually add a small carton of buttermilk to the tray to make life easier.

7. Playdough: If the new mom has other children at home besides the new baby, I always whip up some of this homemade playdough. I can’t tell you what a great diversion playdough is for my kids – worth every minute it takes to sweep up the mess. Hopefully the moms aren’t cursing me for this addition…I should pin a coupon on it to say I’ll come clean up the mess after their kids get done playing with it.

8. Paper Plates/Utensils: To minimize work for the new mom, I always try to include paper plates, napkins and utensils. And I try to give everything to the family in disposable type containers that they don’t need to worry about returning to me. As if they don’t have enough things to worry about with a new baby, right?

I hope this list will help you as you prepare to take dinner into someone near you.

As for me, now I’ve just got to work on convincing my friends here to have more babies so I can put a tray together for them. And seriously, while I’m at it, I should probably look into getting some real hobbies.

110 Responses to New Momma Take-In Tray

  1. Tiffany Larsen says:

    I LOVE IT!!! If you don’t mind I am totally going to borrow this idea. By the way, I LOVE your blog. I visit it all the time and I have NEVER had a bad recipe from it. Thank you!

  2. Love it Mel! We are always taking meals to new moms around here. I sometimes do something for the kids, but not always. Maybe I’ll add play dough to my “tray” too!

  3. katiebee says:

    what a great & thoughtful idea! i love that it covers dinner, playtime & breakfast (right down to the buttermilk)

    i always look forward to your post~ my daughter made the potpie crumble and loved it~

  4. What a wonderful idea. My daughter’s horseback teacher and mother of almost 6, is due in a couple months. This will be so perfect for her and her family!

  5. Deb says:

    Perfect timing here!! Will use your idea, as my daughter is due with “Little Man” any day now!!! Thanks for all the wonderful recipes….love them!

  6. I love this idea! It would also work for grieving families. What a great post!

  7. StephenC says:

    What a wonderful and generous thing to do. Doubtless very much appreciated.

  8. Amanda says:

    Wow!! That really beats just ordering them a pizza! (Not that I EVER do THAT!)

  9. Sarah says:

    This. is. AWESOME! Thank you for this wonderful idea!

  10. Rachel says:

    Thanks for the tip! And I can tell you that the playdough is a welcome addition! When I broke my leg a friend brought dinner, playdough, and some crayons and paper for my kids, and it was the best thing ever. We have all those things already, but having her bring in new stuff somehow made it more exciting for my kids.

  11. Liz K. says:

    Love this! Seriously, you are awesome. I am totally going to try the french bread with flax seed . That is such a good idea.

  12. juliann says:

    I LOVE this idea, I have a bunch of new moms coming down the calendar this next year and this is such a great idea. Most have dog children so I will bring their 4 legged kid a present too.

  13. Love this post…playdoh is a fabulous addition to the usual things you would bring!

  14. Heidi says:

    Wow, I am expecting baby #2 in May!! I want this! I should send it out to my best friends. Ha ha!!! We’re in Michigan and a looooong way away from the fam in Utah. Any little thing someone brings is a piece of heaven, but this would definitely bring on the water works.

  15. ChrissieK says:

    Seriously, if you picked up any new hobbies the rest of us would become HORRIDLY depressed. That would mean less recipes and less blogging. DO NOT continue to consider such things — for the sake of world peace. (ok, a bit extreme — but my world would be a different place w/o your recipes.)

    I just love this post! My hubs is a pastor and we have loads of new momma’s in the church. Oiy! I get so bored w/ what I bring. I love the list — it is so stinkin’ practical. You are brilliant! (down to the frozen cookies on hand…. why don’t I have frozen cookies on hand?!) How do you DO all this stuff w/ 4 kids? Just had our 4th and can’t even get dressed before 11am!

  16. Holly says:

    I hadn’t thought about pancake mix or something easy for another meal. thanks!

  17. Jessica says:

    What an amazing idea! I know I would have LOVED someone who brought this to my door after having a baby. Love your site, Mel!

  18. Joyce Cross says:

    Thanks. I’m always taking food to someone. I have a friend with a 22 month old and that is on bedrest until the baby come. I like to take an extra casserole for them to freeze. Thanks again I needed some new ideas.

  19. Definitely stealing your ideas for my girlfriends having babies in the next few weeks and months!

  20. Kim says:

    Great ideas! I thought I was the only one who did the disposable dishes! I love that they don’t have to worry about returning my dishes, and I don’t have to worry about losing my favorite dish. You should add this to your tips and tutorials section for easy reference later on.

  21. gail makin says:

    Lovely Mel, just lovely.

  22. Amanda says:

    Brilliant ideas, as always! Thanks for sharing this. I always wonder what other people take in for meals. Love the idea of the pancake mix (That pancake mix is delish, btw.) and the paper plates/utinsils, and the playdoh. Seriously, you really are brilliant! I’ve had four babies and if someone would have brought me a tray like this when I had just come home from the hospital, I would have been impressed and very indebted.

  23. Absolutely Brilliant ideas! This would be great for any type family event/emergency!

  24. Aly says:

    Wow, I’m taking dinner to someone tonight! That was perfect timing! What a wonderful idea!

  25. Cammi says:

    I love these ideas. I always use disposable, but I have also seen my mom drop off everything in a big basket, then tell the family to put dishes and the basket on the front porch and she’ll swing by and pick it up. This would only work if it was very near to your own home.

    When my sister had a baby, a lady brought her dinner and made it look like a celebration. She had a girl, so the dinner included pink paper plates, pink napkins, pink ribbon tied to a big bottle of juice, etc. It was so cute!

  26. Marie says:

    This is AWESOME! I always wonder what to make people! This is PERFECT. LOVE your blog!

  27. Laura says:

    My take-in bag is similar to yours, except I always add some jello for a snack if they already have kids. And instead of pancake mix, I always make a ton of waffles and freeze them, along with a fruit salad. Then they can have that for another dinner if they want, or for breakfast.

    Definitely will do the pancake mix the next time I’m short on time. Thanks for the great idea!

  28. Happy mommy says:

    Holy moly! Where was this over the last year? I can’t even tell you how many dinners I have done for new mommies. This is wonderful! Luckily there are still pregnant women in my ward that I can do this for! Thanks a million!

  29. You are fabulous! So, I’m going home and making tons of desserts to stick in the freezer… printing out this list and putting in my recipe box… anything else? :) Love the playdough idea for the other kids!

  30. Tobi says:

    this is perfect!!! my neighbor is due to pop any minute and with 2 other little ones under the age of 6 running around already this is the greatest idea EVER! thanks mel yet again! can’t wait to assemble this :)

  31. Tami says:

    Please won’t you be my neighbor?
    Pretty Please?

  32. nicole says:

    what a wonderful idea. I love it thanks for sharing I am taking dinner to some one tonight I just might include some of this. IT is really so smart!!

  33. Erin says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this. I think this is a wonderful idea. For me, I always seem to blank when I have a friend with a new baby. I love that this is all laid out so I have a reference. Thanks again, Mel!

  34. Kim in MD says:

    This is such a wonderful idea! If I had another child, I would welcome this sweet gift!

  35. MaryAnn says:

    Love it! I always try to take things in disposable cotainers also, but when that isn’t possible, I love the idea above to take it all in a basket and tell them to leave it on the porch! Then they also don’t feel obligated to make a treat to return in the dish like so many do.
    I am a bishop’s wife in a young ward (4 nurseries, 4 sunbeam classes) so I am often taking dinners to new mommies. Thanks for the great idea!

  36. Allie M says:

    Love this Mel! It’s pure genius, and I am always scratching my head when I am trying to figure what to bring into people! You are amazing, if only you lived down the street from me!

  37. Amber says:

    Okay, it’s official….when I grow up I wanna be just like MEL. You top the charts for amazing recipes and ideas and this idea is OVER the TOP. I wish I had used this idea when I was RS President a couple years ago and there were 12 babies born the first year I was called (right along with 12 funerals). Keep up the amazing blog…LOVE IT!

  38. Leigh Anne says:

    Thanks for sharing a great idea! Love all the little “touches” that make it special. :)

  39. Kathy says:

    Wonderful ideas!!! Great job. I have had my share of babies (9) and always LOVED it when someone thoughtfulness blessed my family

  40. Stacy says:

    You have such wonderful ideas here! When we had our 2nd (4 months ago) our music pastor lined people up to bring us meals for a week…..we were so overwhelmed with their kindness. One couple brought us Kentucky Fried Chicken, which my 1st daughter loved! So, it doesn’t even have to be this extravagant to mean a lot. However, I love the ideas you list here and hope to put them into practice when someone we know has a need. Thanks so much for this great post!

  41. Lorie says:

    Where were you when I had my 2nd baby 4 months ago! I am sure this is appreciated so much by your friends and they must love you for being so generous! I love the buttermilk idea!

  42. Jeanette says:

    I love this idea and I love the way you have simplified if for us!
    I haven’t been commenting much lately, but am still here reading away! I’ve just been swamped with work and kid stuff~ :)

  43. Julianne says:

    This is 100% fabulous. Now I’m 2 days overdue…I could handle one of these trays coming along! (Actually, I made a double batch of the pancake mix, and it’s sitting in my fridge, and we bought Sam playdough last week just for entertaining-while-in-the-hospital purposes, and we have a few freezer meals that will work out great. Now I just need to make some freezer cookies and I should be about set.) Great idea Melanie!

  44. Stacie D. says:

    What great ideas, Mel. You really go all out, don’t you? I love this plan, however, I would have to be super prepared. As it is, I am lucky to get out the door on time (or close to) with a couple dishes. It always takes longer than I expect! Do you leave the tray you deliver it on, or do you go in the house and empty it off? I like to leave all disposable containers as well, but sometimes I feel weird emptying my tray onto their kitchen counter.

    • Mel says:

      Hi Stacie – yes, I usually unload everything on their kitchen counter once I get there. It’s like the big purge. Some of the items I have in paper sacks so I just leave those and then set the hot food on the stove or something like that. I agree, taking dinner can be a real super human effort and I’m lucky to get there on time, too. A lot of things, if I think ahead, I usually already have in my pantry (like the pancake mix) and the cookies (in the freezer).

  45. I love this idea! Thanks for sharing.

  46. Jeannette says:

    That is a great idea!
    When our 3rd was born we had meals brought to us. Two ideas that I really liked and so I’ll mention them: one family brought fajita ingredients… all the little veggies and stuff already chopped in little baggies and we could set out and assemble as we wanted. (The already chopped idea was great!) Another family brought breakfast casserole for us. That was a nice change from the soups etc. (which we had some leftovers of anyway) and made breakfast really easy too.

  47. So sweet!
    We do this for people at church that are sick, or have lost a loved one recently.

    This kind of friendliness is what makes life so great :)

  48. Kate says:

    Great ideas. I am always needing new meal ideas that travel well. Everyone I know is of the baby making stage right now. :)

  49. Clarissa Meegan says:

    What a great post! I loved it so much I want to make one for myself when my baby arrives in a few weeks :)

  50. What a gift and idea! I got a bag of “easy food” griceries from someone with my 3rd baby too and it was soo nice to have some “junk food” that the other kids looked at as treats and feel like vacation food. Bakery items and breakfast food is a great addition to your tray. Our neighbor will be having her 3rd baby soon and I will have to put this on my to-do list for her!

  51. Tiffany says:

    What a great idea, thank you so much for letting us in on it, so we can be an encouragement to other people.

  52. Sarah says:

    I already posted about how much I love this, but I also wanted to comment that the jello and dog treat ideas are super, too!

  53. jean says:

    you are amazing. truly. well done!!

  54. Heather Bell says:

    Will your bring dinner to me when I have my next baby?!=)

  55. Tessa says:

    I’ve thought about taking food over to new parents before, but I love all the thought you’ve put into this. Thanks for the ideas!

  56. Thanks! We just took a bunch of meals to a new mom, the week she went back to work. I love being able to bless others in that way.

    One other new mom said frozen cookie dough was a great gift; she enjoyed having the opportunity to have fresh cookies available for folks when they stopped by the see the little one!

  57. Bloom says:

    Such a fantastic idea – and, like you said, this could be customized in so many fun ways. Thanks for sharing, Mel. This is why we love ya!

  58. Liz says:

    Thank you for this. A friend just e-mailed to tell me that her father passed away earlier today, and I was feeling stressed about bringing her something really helpful and thoughtful. My sister told me a few days ago about your blog, and that is her “favorite” food blog. I was just sitting down and decided to look at it. It’s divine intervention. Thanks tons for the great ideas!! I am going to use them.

  59. Martha Artyomenko says:

    I love this! I bring alot of people meals and lose inspiration sometimes!

  60. Jill Long says:

    Thanks for your post, Mel. I have been wanting to ask you what your go-to meal is for new moms. What a great idea! BTW, my sister and I got together today and spent the majority of our conversation talking about your amazing blog and how your recipes have transformed our cooking. Thanks for all your hard work!

  61. brittany says:

    And I was trying to figure out what to bring to sarah that would not look horrible compared to what you brought her…I will not have more babies, but you are more than welcome to bring me dinner!

  62. ashley t says:

    wow, that puts my standard take in meal to shame! thanks for the great ideas!

  63. BRILLIANT!! I’ve always dreamed of treating new mommas like a queen, and this is the PERFECT way to do it.

  64. Valerie M. says:

    Great idea. I usually take a “big brother” or “big sister” gift along with the dinner and dessert, but I like the idea of including a mix for breakfast. Fun and helpful.

  65. Jackie Brown says:

    I love your ideas and I would love for you to guest post this exact post on my new website, http://www.momonamission.me, where I promote ministry meals. We’ve been going strong at my church of 5000 for three years and God’s given me a vision to take it up a notch. I switched my wordpress blog to self-hosting this week, with some minor glitches because I’m still looking for my same readers to swing on by. However, your ideas are great. I promote making a family meal incorporting your ministry meal at the same time (making two) and freezing. Let me know if you’re interested. I’ve followed your blog for a year now and love your ideas! You’re a gifted photographer too. I’m praying for a new camera to get better shots.

  66. Sarah H says:

    I don’t know where you live, Mel, but you can bring this over for me when I have #4 here in a few days! (I’m in Meridian, ID) Seriously, that’s awesome. I just found your blog a bit ago and i’m SO excited to try the whole wheat flax seed french bread…I have started making my own whole wheat bread but haven’t yet attempted french bread. I have a feeling it may be a few months before I get around to it, though! :)

  67. Lindsay says:

    Wow! That is SUCH a great idea. Thank you so much for sharing!

  68. Julie Ann Perez says:

    I found the most amazing thing! It’s dried buttermilk. You just add the required amount (ie. 4 T for 1 cup) to your mix and then add the water (1 cup) in place of the buttermilk in the recipe. It tastes the same and then I just have to keep the powder on hand in my fridge instead of buying large containers of buttermilk!

  69. Kelley says:

    Wow, this is a really sweet idea. I’ll be sure to keep this in mind next time one of my friends has a new baby.

  70. Jonesy says:

    Great ideas! One that hasn’t been mentioned yet is taking in meals BEFORE the baby comes. I don’t know about you, but when I walk in the door with my new little one (who is no longer sitting on my tailbone, causing sciatica, or forcing my lungs into my throat), dinner doesn’t seem nearly as impossible a notion as it does that KILLER last week of pregnancy. A few years ago a good friend brought in dinner 2 days before my delivery and it was the best gift EVER!!!!

  71. Ashlee says:

    One word: Genuis!

  72. steph says:

    Amen to Jonesy and the final-days-of-pregnancy meals. I had a baby back in November and while I was grateful for any and all help, the meals/thoughtfulness in the 11 days between my baby’s due date and her birth were *very* much appreciated. My favorite: some friends brought over a half dozen “we’re-sorry-you’re-still-pregnant” cupcakes.

    The playdough and the pancake mix really make your tray something special.

  73. Jessica says:

    What a fantastic idea! I have tons of friends who are prego right now, and I’ll definitely add to what I normally give them (which is a meal and baby outfit). Thank you!

  74. Dana says:

    Was I ever stupid to refuse your offer for a meal after my miscarriage! :) What a great idea. :)

  75. Carlin says:

    I’m having my baby in May- feel free to drop this off! :)

  76. Emily says:

    This is brilliant! I’ve made and dropped off my share of meals, but never with play-dough and extra pancake mix-ish stuff! You ARE my go-to recipe blog. I love MKC!

  77. Melissa says:

    Just so you know, your blog is definitely one of my happy places. Always look forward to each new post, and this was is surely fabulous. Keep ‘em coming! Thanks!

  78. Jenny G says:

    I’m having a baby in August…you can send me one of these:)

    Great idea! Love it. The paper plates and utensils are brilliant, makes it a true hassle-free meal.

  79. Donna says:

    What a great idea for anyone you are making meals for – I loved the idea of the pancake mix too (dinner & breakfast)

  80. Kelli says:

    I LOVE THIS!! I currently try to take a freezeable casserole to new mommies but this totally takes it to a new level! Thanks so much for sharing!!

  81. Caitlin says:

    Fabulous ideas. I just love this blog!!

  82. jackie says:

    I really love how you put this together. I always kinda freak a little when I’m asked to bring a meal – I just want to order pizza and take it to them but now, I’m hoping someone has a baby soon!!!
    You should check out http://www.comfynkitchen.blogspot.com/ – she is doing a Meal Ministry Monday and I think this would be an awesome idea for a guest post . . . .check out her blog and e-mail her if you so desire :-) I get most of my new recipes to try from either her blog or yours!

  83. Lauren says:

    Ummm, I’m having my 5th in 6 weeks. Wanna move in near me so I can get one of those? What an awesome idea! Love it!

  84. Michelle says:

    Thank you for this post!! I’m preparing food to take to a new mommy this week, and this gives me more ideas. :)

  85. Nina says:

    Great idea! But I never know what main dish to take to new moms, since broccoli can sometimes cause gassiness or colic if the baby is breastfeeding. I stick to pretty bland main courses for that reason.

    Thanks for posting this!

  86. Cammee says:

    I love this idea and I am totally stealing it. The pancake mix with buttermilk is brilliant and the play dough pouts it right over the top!

  87. corrie says:

    I love it! that is just what I need to know. I always remember the sweet people who dropped in meals to me when I needed them. Oh one lovely friend has twice given me a big tray of cinnamon rolls…………..heaven!

    corrie;)

  88. Leslie says:

    Fabulous idea! To tell you the truth, I think I’d be one of those moms that would curse you if you showed up with play dough, sorry to say. But if it came with a coupon to offer to clean it up after, then all power to ya! I think this tray idea is ingenious, though! Thanks!

  89. Kim S. says:

    LOVE this idea Mel! One thing to kick it up a bit–EDIBLE playdough for the kids!–Equal Parts:
    Powdered Milk
    Smooth Peanut Butter
    Honey
    (Flour as needed)

  90. Love Love Love this idea!

  91. Elise R. says:

    What a fantastic idea!! I’m currently in that season of life where everyone I know is having babies, so meals are needed left and right. I love the idea of extending the meal so much further and being creative with it. Thanks for posting this!

  92. Laura M. says:

    I love these ideas.
    Another thing that my neighbor gave me is a pre-written thank you note. It said, “Dear (her name), Thank you for the meal and gift. It was delicious. You are such a good cook. Thanks for all you do for our family. Sincerely, (all I had to do was sign my name). She did this because she knows how hard it is to find time to brush your teeth with a newborn let alone feel obligated to write a thank you note. Some may be turned off by this, but I thought it was cute. I now do the same for her when I take her things.

  93. Amber says:

    Thank you for sharing this! I really enjoy making dinner for sick friends but it seems like I am always making the same thing. I enjoy reading your blog and preparing your recipes.

  94. Julee says:

    Thank you!!! LOVE it!

  95. Betsy says:

    I just discovered your blog and was going through your posts. This is fabulous!!

  96. Amy M says:

    I just love blessing a family with a take in tray like this. I’m definately going to add the pancake mix idea next time I deliver a meal to anyone with kids! I recently added a treasure hunt activity for the siblings of the new baby where the prize was Mel’s giant cookie. It went over REALLY well so I thought I’d share. Kid’s just LOVE them a giant chocolate chip cookie :) Just in case anyone wants to create a hunt of their own I listed my clues which you could base yours off of. Of course you would customize for the family you’re delivering the meal to…

    Edi and Liam it’s time for some fun.
    But what should it be? There is no sun!
    It’s time for an adventure.
    It’s time to find some treasure!
    To find it, you will follow many clues.
    Look for the first clue where you keep your shoes.

    Shout “Hooray” for baby Eleanor!
    Find your next clue by the front door.

    Brothers and sisters are the best.
    You’ll find the next clue where Liam rests.

    You’re doing great with so many in a row
    Find your next clue where you watch a show.

    Where your treasure is, nobody knows.
    Find your next clue where we wash the clothes.

    The next clue isn’t under a rock,
    It’s where Edi keeps her socks!

    Oh my goodness you’re almost there.
    When you find the treasure be sure to share!
    …your next clue is somewhere in the kitchen.

    Edi & Liam you are SUPER sweet.
    Look in the shower to find your treasure that is a BIG treat!

  97. hayley says:

    I LOVE your blog!! I was wondering what kind of bag you use when you package up your bread? thanks!

  98. Sharilyn Sorenson says:

    I live in Utah and man these ladies know how to bring dinners! We had a meal brought to us after our second son with a thing of lemonade with it. That was awesome because we hadn’t gone out to the store since the hospital and only had water. Just thought it was a great addition..

  99. Heather B. says:

    Someone brought us dinner after my fourth and she added a small salad bar. She took one of those disposable baking pans for a cake/lasagna. Filled 1/2 with salad/lettace mix. The other 1/2 had disposable cups filled with things like cheese, chinese noodles, raisins, tomatoes, goldfish, croutons etc. and some dressing. My kids loved it!! It didn’t really take that much effort since most of it was open and pour. It was fun and made the complaints at dinner much less!

  100. mauka-makai says:

    Great idea to be so considerate of the whole family!

    I once read a book about southern cooking and culture. One of the meals that got delivered in this small town was for a grieving widow or widower. Well, in the old timey days, they did not have zip locks or glad containers; but there was some wisdom in giving a covered dish in an actual dish. When the initial grieving period is done, the return of the dish created a situation where the widow(er) had to have some small human contact in the form of returning the casserole dish to the people who did the cooking.

    I understand a new mama is not grieving and may not have time for returning dishes, but I like the idea of a social visit built into the returning of a dish.

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