A meal train is essentially a schedule of people who have agreed to make you a meal on a certain day.
I recently took part in a panel discussion at a baby fair and was absolutely astonished to learn about a post-partum “meal train”. I really thought I had heard it all when it came to all things pregnancy and baby but this one kind of took my breath away.
A Doula and breastfeeding counsellor was talking about the importance of setting up your post-partum support measures during pregnancy so that all is ready and waiting when you really need the help. This is where she mentioned a “meal train”. It is something she did herself and now encourages her clients to do too.
So what is a meal train and why is it so beneficial for a new mum (and her entire family)? Well, I should start by saying that the idea behind this meal train is not specific to post-partum and can actually be used for anyone who needs a little extra help. The internet is full of stories from people recovering from surgery or recently struck down with an illness and the “meal train” made all the difference to them.
Let’s get to the point, shall we? A meal train is essentially a schedule of people who have agreed to cook you a meal on a certain day. All of these meals add up and before you know it you’ve got X amount of days where food is coming to your family from different sources. And so the meal train is born. Just think about all of the people in your life who have asked if you need anything for the baby. Think about how many people will offer a helping hand when the baby comes and will ask you to tell them if there is anything they can do to help you when the baby arrives. This is your opportunity to say “yes please – can you make us a meal and take it to our house one of the days?”.
The reality is that basic tasks become a lot more difficult when your baby comes along. Simply putting a dinner together takes great effort and you’ll find yourself leaning on convenience food or take-aways a lot more than you may have planned. Even if you have an amazing partner who takes on the cooking during this time it might mean that something else more important is being neglected. This is especially true when there are other children or pets in the house. Basically, your little family could do without having to think about cooking for a week or so when the baby arrives so that you can focus on that fourth trimester, healing and starting your new life as a family. At the same time, your family could do with some home-made “proper” food too.
There is an official meal train website where you can download the official meal train calendar. It allows you to customise dates, times and meal preferences and that then becomes shareable with those who want to be involved to help you out in this way. You can specify dates and times that the “drop off” would suit. A reminder email will be sent to each participant a week or one day prior to their “slot” meaning it takes you out of the equation completely.
So there we have it – a meal train is a perfect way to help a friend in need or in this case a new mama and family who could do with some decent grub without the stress of having to make it.
Tracey is mammy to five-year-old Billy and newborn Willow. She is a breastfeeder, gentle parent and has recently lost five stone so healthy family eating is her passion! You can follow her on Instagram.