There are a lot of things new parents need. Among them: sleep, sanity checks and more sleep. Food should be at the top of the list, but when there are so many other pressing needs, meals become more of an exercise in speed and survival. Pouring a bowl of cereal with one arm while holding a baby with the other? Been there. I’ve also been the lucky recipient of food brought over by friends and family, which was as welcome as water in the desert.
If you know someone with a new life in their lives, you can be a mealtime hero, too. Bring over one (or more!) of these make-ahead, leftover-friendly meals from our archives — and maybe hold the baby while they eat.
Butternut Squash, Kale and Shiitake Casserole, above. Too often casseroles get a bad reputation. This one is a game changer, enlivened with Thai-inspired flavors and packed with good-for-you vegetables. Bring this one over still warm, or let the recipient bake it on their own time since it can be assembled up to two days in advance.
No-Fry Eggplant Parmesan. This saucy dish is as close as you can get to comfort in a nine-inch square pan. As with the butternut squash casserole, you can bake the eggplant Parm yourself, or let your friends do it on their own schedule.
Turkey and Butternut Squash Chili. As with most chili, it gets better over time. Count on a shelf life of five days in the refrigerator, but individual portions would also freeze quite well. If your friends would prefer a meatless version, swap in more beans for the turkey.
Simple Butter Chicken. I can attest to the appeal of takeout in the early days of parenthood. Make your love extra apparent with this from-scratch version of the Indian restaurant favorite. Bonus: This dish is packed with fenugreek, which is at least anecdotally thought to increase the milk supply of nursing mothers. Should there be any leftovers, they reheat well.
Beef Daube. Even if you didn’t spend all day working on it, this classic French stew will still wow anyone who’s lucky enough to get it. Bring along pasta, rice or crusty bread for sopping up every last drop. Leftovers will taste just as good, if not better, the next day.
Carrot, Cumin and Kidney Bean Burgers. Stockpiling your friends’ freezer with veggie burgers will help them solve the dilemma of what to make for dinner on hectic evenings. These will last a few months on ice. Be sure to bring over a bag of rolls, too, which can be frozen as needed.
Greek Mixed Greens Pie With Phyllo Crust. I thanked myself for packing away a few trays of this spanikopita-esque meal before my son was born. Choose between freezing or refrigerating the unbaked pie. The baked pie can be stored in the refrigerator for a few days as well.
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