Bibs, blankets, and toys are all popular baby gifts, but it wasn’t until I had my first child that I realized that a home cooked meal was actually the best and most appreciated present ever. Since adjusting to life with a new baby leaves little time for food planning, shopping, and preparing, having friends or family bring a healthy, filling meal is always a home run. Meal Train is a free online service that allows people to arrange and sign up to bring food for a family when there’s a new baby, when a family member is ill, or even to plan for people in need during the holidays. Meal Train allows you to customize when you need food, where you need it to go, and a family’s preferences. The only thing left for you to do is sign up and get cooking (or ordering)!

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Along with the basics, such as the family’s address, you can specify if a certain person has allergies as well as their likes and dislikes. We’ve used it several times when friends have had babies, and it’s user-friendly and easy to modify. For example, if the family needs meals every other day or only on the weekdays, you can choose specific days. There’s also a space for special instructions, an online calendar, options for online ordering and gift cards or financial donations, and even an email reminder that goes out to volunteers 24 hours before the date of their chosen meal. Signing up to volunteer and inviting others to volunteer just requires you to fill in a simple online form.

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If your friend or family member needs additional help in the form of multiple daily meals, childcare, rides, or even housework or dog walking, Meal Train Plus is an option at only $10, which is the fee regardless of how long the person or family needs the service. Whichever version you choose, Meal Train is infinitely less complicated and cumbersome than having one person trying to schedule and organize everything. Our favorite part of Meal Train isn’t listed on their website, but we’ll let you in on the not-so-secret: when you drop off your meal, you are almost guaranteed to get a glimpse of the little bundle of joy, along with his or her extremely grateful parents.

+ Meal Train