My wife often sends a Shepard’s Pie.
Pastry crust. Beef and veggies. Mashed potato topping.
A disadvantage is that pastry crusts don’t respond well to microwave heating. But it is very yummy. It’s an easily served comfort food that’s slightly off the beaten path.
Include a container of brown gravy if you feel ambitious.
Am I the only one who read the “he” in a funny way in the OP’s second sentence?
I gotta go with lasagna. Easy to make, easy to transport, easy to split, easy to heat up and tastes just as good as leftovers. And no problem freezing it.
Yeah, check with the parents to see what they can and cannot eat, but you can make lasagna with almost anything.
I always like to send over a pan of ham and scalloped potatoes. That’s a pretty good choice for a hearty comfort meal.
Another favorite of mine is to send a few pounds of assorted sandwich sliced meats and cheeses from the deli along with some of my home made mustard, mayo, bread&butter pickles and Italian loaf bread. A big sandwich may not be fancy but it always gets eaten.
When our kids were newborn, I loved one-handed meals because both kids took so long to nurse. Newborns are also notorious for not liking to be put down. My daughter especially would spend two or three hours at the breast and a lot of time in her sling, so I love the idea of individually-filled “pockets” with the crescent rolls. You can stuff crescent rolls with just about anything - the chicken mixture mentioned, make calzones (think a thickened meat sauce with cheese, or a mixture of spinach, garlic (if the mom’s okay with it - some babies don’t do well with garlic if they’re nursing) and loads of mozzarella and parmesan.
Not dealing with the specifics, but I’ve both given and been given mostly casseroles.
Cooks Illustrated’s recipe for Classic Macaroni and Cheese. People beg me for it.
That said, sometimes I can barely cook for my own family, and yet a friend has an emergency. I say, don’t be afraid to zip by the store and deliver a Stouffer’s lasagna and some frozen steam-in-bag broccoli, or send a pizza delivery to their door. People appreciate being let off the “what’s for dinner” hook even if it’s not homemade gourmet.
I throw out a couple of possibilities to them, and go with their choice.
One is a shrimp & scallop in tomato sauce (in a bag) for them to reheat, along with angel hair pasta, a salad (in a bag), some sourdough rolls, and a lot of cut up fruit (in a bag). The in a bag theme means that they get to throw the containers away and not worry about having to clean anything up or return any containers. I’ll probably throw in either a blueberry coffee cake or some muffins to go along with it.
Plan B is a soup with turkey sausage, mushrooms, spinach and tomatoes in chicken broth. They bring this up to a boil and throw in some cheese tortellini. I’ll also bring sourdough rolls, some cut up fruit, and muffins to go along with it. The leftover soup heats up well, too.
I’m told later that the fruit and muffins are particularly popular. The new parents (especially a mom) are usually so busy they often don’t have time to sit down and eat a real meal, so it’s nice to have something they can grab and eat quickly. I remember that from my own experience with my second son. I was so busy I didn’t really get a chance to look after myself much, so a batch of oatmeal cookies someone sent over were a real Godsend at the time.
We do a chicken casserole that’s pitifully simple but generally well-received.
Cooked bite-sized chicken pieces in 13X9 pan, frozen broccoli over that, shredded chedder, cream-of-whatever soup thinned out with a little milk and topped with stove-top stuffing as a crust. Half an hour or so in a 350 oven and it’s not too shabby.
For deaths in the family, we often bake a selection of muffins, cookies or brownies, and make a tray with some fruit on it. Washed, but uncut fruit, nothing that’s going to brown or get soggy. Pick up a bucket of fried chicken and it’s a selection of things that can be eaten on the fly, whenever someone has a chance to nosh.
Okay, I just put my name in for 12/13. I like the mac & cheese idea (and some sort of vegetable). I think that would go over pretty well with the four year old and we’re having really cold, wintery weather, so that sounds like good comfort food. I also like the muffins and cut-up fruit idea. I think that would be easy for my friend to snack on. I might include some other snacky things, too.
As a former nursing mother, my only advice would be to go easy on the garlic or onions if she’s breastfeeding. Those can affect the taste of the mother’s milk and give the baby colic.