Meal Train Etiquette for the Modern Mama


A friend has a baby or surgery – what do we do? We sign up and we bring food. That’s what mamas do. We rally together as a community and shower that friend with love and sustenance. Some things have changed since the advent of the “it takes a village” concept. Back then, it literally was your village. Now villages are all kinds of groups: churches, mom clubs, social groups, etc. Other things have changed as well. Social norms change and our the etiquette of our goodwill changes as well. 

Meals for the New Mom

My go-to new mama meal used to be my famous chicken pot pie (something similar found here) and a pan of dark chocolate espresso brownies. I know after I birthed my tiny humans, I was utterly exhausted and a salad was the furthest thing from my mind. So I wanted to drown that exhaustion in carbs and caffeine-fueled chocolate. Maybe this is you, but there’s a chance it’s not. When bringing a meal to a new mama, now instead of going off of what I would want, I try to do a better job of checking in on what they might want. Maybe their post-baby craving is quinoa. Maybe nine months without Jimmy Johns has them screaming for a sub.

Allergies and Sensitivities

Another common issue for new moms is food sensitivities or allergies either for themselves or their new babe. Many moms have been dealing with food-related allergies or sensitivities long before they had a baby or surgery. Try to take all preferences listed as allergies, rather than suggestions. The very last thing you want to do is cause an issue for a healing mama or an upset, colicky baby. There are countless resources out there for gluten-free cooking, dairy-free cooking, and any other allergen that may arise. Pinterest and Google are your friends here. As are any actual friends you have with similar dietary restrictions. Everyone I know that has dietary limitations is more than willing to share their favorite recipes with me. 

If It’s All Just a Little Too Much

My children have a knack for developing GI bugs whenever I sign up to bring meals to friends. It’s actually a statistical wonder. Because I love my friends, these are the times I use meal delivery services. God bless Postmates, GrubHub, DoorDash, and good old fashion pizza delivery. Once I check with the meal recipient on food preference, just add it to the cart, enter their address, and the germs stay where they belong. It’s a miracle of modern living.

Other Rules and Tidbits

  • Do not plan on staying past the meal handoff. The recipients have just had a baby/surgery/no sleep. They want food, not fellowship. That can come later.
  • Do not bring your children into their home unless they are invited. Kids are darling, but they are also well, kids. Not always great at quiet and calm for sleeping infants and healing grown-ups. Although sometimes a play date with older siblings is more helpful than any casserole, just check first.
  • Do not sign up for a meal and then cancel. If your plate is too full with other commitments (excuse the food metaphor) help out another time, in another way. 
  • Do not forsake your own family’s needs to help others. 
  • Do not expect a thank you note. But smile big when you get one.

That’s it. Go forth and make someone’s recovery all the more wonderful with your delicious casseroles or pizza delivery. 

Do you have a go-to meal you take to friends in need? What do you think about the etiquette of meal delivery?

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