As a food professional, I often get asked about the best dish to cook for new parents. And I usually let them in on a little secret:

Don’t cook them anything.

Instead, if you want an amazing gift idea for new parents, do what a good friend did for us when my first daughter was born: Shop.

A day or two after we returned from the hospital, a bountiful bag of groceries showed up on our doorstep. At first I thought it was a mistake — surely my wonderful husband wasn’t online ordering groceries between diapers changes in the middle of the night. But we quickly saw the note and realized she had supplied us with some essentials for getting through the first couple weeks of parenthood. (Thanks, Molly!).

The groceries weren’t fancy, but they included everything I didn’t know I needed for those early, exhausting days.

I’ve since passed on this gift idea to so many people. And now with so many stores offering delivery options, it’s easier than ever to put together this smart gift for new parents.

Want to know where to start? Consider the list below as a starting point, but you can obviously tailor it for the new parents you’re shopping for. If it’s easy for you, you can even just stop by a local farmer’s market for a few fresh goodies.

No matter what you put in the bag, I guarantee any new mommy or daddy will be over the moon.

Related: Fresh takes on great meals to make for a new mom. Move over boring casseroles. 

Pantry staples that make great gifts for new parents

The easiest, best food gift for new parents: hint, you can get some of it as Trader Joe's! | Photo courtesy of Trader Joe's

Trader Joe’s has a great selection of coffees, seasonal items, and treats new parents will love

• Coffee!
• Did I mention coffee?
• Fresh juice
• Peanut butter & jelly
• Bread
• Greek yogurt
• Hummus
• Cheese
• Crackers
• Trail mix, granola bars and protein bars
• Pasta and good jarred sauce
• Eggs – bonus points if you include some ready-to-eat hard boiled eggs
• Beer – it’s good for nursing, right?

Related: 15 of our favorite healthy Trader Joe’s products to make healthy eating easy for the whole family. 

Produce choices that make great gifts for new parents

The easiest, best food gift for new parents ©Jane Sweeney Cool Mom Eats

• Bananas, apples, berries – Think of fruits you can eat one-handed.
• Grapes and cherry tomatoes for easy grab-and-go munching
• Pre-cut veggies like broccoli, carrots and cauliflower — no tired new parent wants to be trimming and roasting brussels sprouts that first week!

Related: Too tired to eat? Healthy snacks for new moms to the rescue.

Prepared foods that make great gifts for new parents

This isn’t necessary, especially if budget is a concern, but your store may have great prepared foods to choose from that save new parents from another pizza delivery. Try:

• Meatballs
• Dumplings
• Soups
• Prepared salads of all kind (pasta, potato, tabouli, you name it)
• Dips like fresh hummus or baba ganoush
• Knishes or spanakopita for easy, relatively healthy munching
• Bakery goodies from breads to cookies (New parents are not generally counting calories as a priority)

I want to be sure to thank the mom who reminded me a bag of groceries really is the best food gift for new parents:Rebecca, a member or our totally awesome Recipe Rescue Facebook group.

PS If you’re not yet a member of Cool Mom Eats’ private Facebook community, I encourage you to sign up! It’s a super fun and totally helpful virtual coffee table, where we share ideas, recipes for feeding our families, laugh at our guilty eating pleasures, and trade tips like this one.

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