10 great meals to make for new parents

Moroccan lamb shanks.
Moroccan lamb shanks. Photo: Danielle Colley

When Fiona Purcell had her second baby, the mums in the playgroup she'd been attending with her toddler swung into action, starting a home-made meal delivery service to help in the initial weeks after bringing her new baby home.

At first the constant stream of lasagne, frittata and spaghetti embarrassed her – but then she realised how much it was really helping her, and her embarrassment turned to deep gratitude.

Pork and fennel pasta bake.
Pork and fennel pasta bake. Photo: Danielle Colley

"I wasn't part of their church but they still drew up a roster and delivered delicious, nutritious home-cooked dinners to our family," Fiona says. "It was so helpful and kind. That caring community doesn't really exist anywhere else in our society."

But it does happen in our society, because more and more people are choosing the gift of food over 'stuff' for the baby.

Mum of two Jody Toomey has done it for friends because she remembers how brutal those early days with a newborn can be.

Rhubard and apple crumble.
Rhubard and apple crumble.  Photo: Danielle Colley

"Our friend was getting out of hospital on the Wednesday and her partner was struggling to look after their eldest, so on the Monday we started cooking," she says. "We made an enormous pan of osso bucco and divided it up and froze it. I made an apple pie and a couple of other things and we froze the lot in meal-sized portions. On Wednesday night we dropped it all off – they'd just got the baby to sleep so we snuck in, whispering, and put it all in their freezer, then left them to it."

Ideally, you want to give food that isn't expensive to make, ins't too difficult to create, and freezes well, so the family can pop it in the freezer and pull it out when necessary. Stews, bakes, soups and pasta sauces are perfect.

Here are 10 recipes that will keep new families well-fed without any fuss.

Farmhouse chicken soup.
Farmhouse chicken soup. Photo: Danielle Colley

Moroccan lamb shanks

This slow cooked lamb is perfect for the freezer. It has bags of flavor and takes just a few minutes to prepare before tossing it into the oven and leaving it for a while to cook.

The new parents just need to add some rice or cous-cous to serve it with – easy!

See the recipe on Essential Kids.

Farmhouse chicken soup

Chicken soup is one of those things that's good for whatever ails you. This recipe is great for the whole family, so even toddlers and big kids will eat it up and leave the new mum in peace.

All the parents need to do is pop some crusty bread in the oven and heat it up.

See the farmhouse chicken soup recipe here.

Lamb and barley soup

Barley is one of the world's most nutritious grains and is known for its restorative nature.

The best thing about this is you throw everything into a pot and time does the rest – and the good news about hearty soups is that they're an entire meal in a bowl.

See the lamb and barley soup recipe here.

Moussaka

A rich lamb sauce with layers of eggplant, this is the Greek version of lasagna with no carbs. This recipe makes quite a large serving, so the new parents may get more than one meal out of it, depending on their family size and how many guests have popped by to see the new baby.

See the moussaka recipe here.

Curried mince

This is so easy to whip up, and you can control how spicy this is by using a hot or a mild curry paste. All the new parents need to do is make a pot of basmati rice to go with it.

Tip: Make a double portion and keep some for yourself, because it's delicious!

See the curried mince recipe here.

Beef and red wine pot pie

This rich, hearty pie can be made up to its final stage – you can leave the new mum and dad to finish off the pastry in the oven.  They can serve it with salad if they've managed to get fresh stuff in the house, but it can be served just as well on its own.

See the recipe on Essential Kids.

Pork and fennel pasta bake

Everyone loves a pasta bake and this one is just a little bit fancy – pork and fennel were meant for each other! Get through the recipe until the final stage then deliver it to the family so all they've got to do is pop it in the oven.

It is quite a big portion so it may last a few meals.

See the pork and fennel pasta bake recipe here.

Butter chicken

A rich and creamy fragrant sauce with tender pieces of chicken, this Indian favourite freezes like a dream. The new parents will just have to add rice for a complete meal.  

See the recipe on Essential Kids.

Bolognaise sauce

How can you go wrong with an old faithful like bolognaise? There are so many simple options all from the one sauce: they can have it on pasta, toss it on vegetables, make cheesy baked potatoes or even toasted sandwiches.

See the recipe on Essential Kids.

Rhubarb and apple crumble

A breastfeeding mum needs a few extra calories, and a meal isn't complete without a little something sweet. Why not throw in a treat in the form of this tasty crumble?

See the rhubarb and apple crumble recipe here.