Your Step-by-Step Guide to Setting Up a Meal Train with Julie Vincent, Health Coach for Moms

meal train

It can happen in the blink of an eye. Your due date is quickly approaching and your list of things to get done before your little one’s arrival keeps growing and growing.

The first 40 days after giving birth can welcome an abundance of precious moments, ups and downs as you figure out new routines as well as a crucial period of rest and recovery for you and your babe. 

At MyNestwell, we’re all about calling up our village of experts, friends and family members to help us expectant mamas prepare for the postpartum period as much as possible. Why? Because once your baby (or babies!) come, it can become survival mode for a bit.

We get it. Newborns’ needs are many, but so are mama’s. That’s why we’ve got just the thing to help keep mama and baby happy and healthy.

Two words.

Meal train.

Meal, what?

Trust us on this one.

Perhaps you’re not quite ready or you prefer not to invest in a postpartum doula to help make you warm meals—this is another workaround! Meal trains are a great alternative to lean on your village for support (we’re talkin’ family, friends, and whoever else wants to help!) to coordinate meal sharing during this time of transition. 

These meal trains can be especially helpful so you, as new parents, can focus on your baby, nourishing yourself back to health and not have to worry about what’s for breakfast…or lunch…or dinner. 

We tapped mama, meal train expert and holistic health coach for busy mamas, Julie of Hearth Wellness for all the details on meal trains and more, whether you’re looking at setting one up for yourself or an expectant friend.

Julie of Hearth Wellness

“Having a solid postpartum nutrition plan in place to nourish yourself back to health is important, and a meal train can be a big part of this!” — Julie

Meal Train 101

The When: The last month of pregnancy is go-time.

You typically want to start organizing your meal train during the last month of your pregnancy so you’re prepared ahead of time. You can organize the meals for any day of the week and for however long you want. It’s up to you!

“For most new parents, a month is a generous amount of meal coverage, but I have seen others that have stretched out longer as parents only wanted food a few times a week.” — Julie

The Who: Time to rally your village. 

You can ask as many people as you’d like to participate! Most new parents will try to rally 1-2 close friends or family members who are well organized and readily available. You want to be able to count on them as the “go-to meal train contact” for any questions that may come up!

It’s not a prerequisite that your meal train participants are experts in the kitchen or even have to prepare the meals for you necessarily. Also, if you’re unsure about eating food prepared by others right now, gift cards or food delivery services are great alternatives! You can share a list of local restaurants, family meal caterers you like or use a food delivery service like UberEats, Caviar or DoorDash.

“Not everyone loves to cook, but they definitely want to support you.” — Julie

The What: Focus on nutrient-dense foods!

You might be surprised to learn that nutrient needs in the early postpartum phase—and especially while breastfeeding—are higher than while you were pregnant.” — Julie

“Warming” foods like steamy broths, soups, herbal teas and recipes with warming spices like cinnamon and ginger are ideal for post-birth recovery. See below for a rough list of items you may want to consider incorporating into your meal train ingredient list:

High Iron

  • Lentils
  • Beans
  • Chickpeas

Proteins

  • Slow-Cooked Meats
  • Eggs
  • Nuts

Healthy Fats – These can actually keep you full and enrich your breast milk with slightly higher fat content!

  • Avocados
  • Coconut oil
  • Soybeans

Omega-3s

  • Salmon
  • Flaxseeds, Chia Seeds or Walnuts
  • Navy Beans

Well-Cooked Grains

  • Quinoa, Bulgur, Millet
  • Brown Rice
  • Whole Wheat Bread

The Details: Be clear about what you want to eat or say hello to lots of lasagna.

Don’t be shy about sharing dislikes, not to mention any important information about allergies, sensitivities or diet preferences (vegetarian, vegan, etc.). Don’t forget your favorite foods, too! 

Bonus Tip: If you do go the family and friends meal route, make sure everything is labeled and includes any reheating or baking instructions!

Meal Train Quick Tips + Alternatives

  1. Best way to set up a meal train? Mealtrain.com has become a go-to for a lot of new mamas. You can also go the traditional route and use a Google doc, email, text thread or put a friend (like a really good friend!) in charge to take it on.

  2. How does drop-off work? Be sure to provide a preferred drop-off time (it might not be mealtime and that’s ok!). And if you prefer a little more privacy or contact-less delivery, putting a cooler outside is a great solve for this.
  3. Best containers? Aluminum containers with lids like these are great for main meals. Also, ball jars or even gifting them reusable containers or serving dishes work well but don’t expect them back! 
  4. Got too many meals? It happens! There is such a thing as too many meals on a meal train and if this ever happens, simply, freeze ‘em and save them for later! 
  5. Bonus Tip: If you’re making the meal for a new mom, you can always make more of the meal and feed it to your own family that night and save the rest for the meal train!

For the Makers and Bakers

See below for some recipe ideas from Hearth Wellness.

Simple Soy Salmon

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 wild salmon filets
  • 1/3 cup tamari sauce (gluten free soy)
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 4 minced garlic cloves
  • 1 T EVOO
  • 2 t minced ginger
  • ½ t red pepper flakes

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. 1. Whisk together the marinade ingredients.
  2. 2. Marinate the salmon for 30 minutes.
  3. 3. Seal each filet in foil and bake for 12-15 minutes at 450 degrees.
  4. 4. Deliver as a main dish with a side of roasted veggies and/or grains, or make a salad to go with it!

One Pot Mexican Quinoa

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 T olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup corn kernels, frozen, canned or roasted
  • 1 t chili powder
  • 1/2 t cumin
  • Salt + pepper to taste
  • 1 avocado, halved and diced
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 2 T chopped fresh cilantro leaves or scallions
  • Optional: Cheddar cheese for topping

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. 1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  2. 2. Stir in quinoa, vegetable broth, beans, tomatoes, corn, chili powder and cumin; season with salt and pepper, to taste. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat and simmer until quinoa is cooked through about 20 minutes. Stir in avocado, lime juice and herbs.
  3. 3. Deliver with a side of shredded cheese and maybe some tortilla chips!

    Any other resources? The First Forty Days: The Essential Art of Nourishing the New Mother by Heng Ou, Amely Greeven and Marisa Belger is a great source of inspiration as you prepare for postpartum.

Your Future Mama Self Will Thank You

And there you have it! All the tools, tips and tricks to set up your meal train and prepare for your postpartum period with ease and flow. 

For more information on meal trains and holistic health, you can follow Julie at @hearthwellness and if you’re looking to round out your village with a postpartum doula or health coach, start your search here.

This site does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and is not a substitute for medical care. Mynestwell.com does not employ any care provider nor is it responsible for the conduct of any care provider. Each individual is solely responsible for selecting an appropriate care provider for themselves and for complying with all applicable laws in connection with any employment relationship they establish. Your use of the site indicates your agreement to be bound by our Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.