Mini Mealtimes 2021: Get the Best for your Kids
Marie Farmer, Founder of Mini Mealtimes explains to Delivery Rank how the app can help parents provide their children with the very best nutrition. Nutrition is never one size fits all and recommendations evolve constantly.
Marie, please tell us about the Mini Mealtimes app?
Our app aims to help parents understand their children's nutrition. We live in such a busy, modern world where time is so scarce and there are so many products available which makes it hard, (and time-consuming), to understand exactly what nutrition your child needs. Parents want to feed their children healthy, nutritious food but for the most part, simply do not have the time. The Mini Mealtimes app helps establish the nutritious needs of a child while providing reassurance and education to parents. It offers unbiased information and tools so that parents can log their child’s nutrition, understand it and watch it evolve.
You can enter a shop, scan a product, or type it in manually and the app will break the ingredients down into fat content, sugar content, etc… and in addition, show the results as to what that child needs specifically, depending on criteria such as age and sex (keeping in mind a child’s nutritional needs will change as they grow).
How was Mini Mealtimes conceived?
I was looking to buy porridge for my son a few years ago and glanced at the breakdown of ingredients on the packaging. I was astounded to see the high levels of sodium which were well over the recommended amount. Generally speaking, as parents and adults, we usually have no idea what the recommended amounts should be and we rely on marketing slogans and food packaging to guide us in the right direction. Often, the packaging can be extremely misleading and most people don’t have the time to analyze the ingredients.
My son was a very ‘fussy eater’, more so than others, and after seeing a few specialists, I started to look more into labels and what was going into the foods we buy. I struggled to get a clear and simple understanding of nutritional information, and that is when the idea of Mini Mealtimes came about. I wanted to group all the necessary information into one place, break it down and simplify! It is a dietician in a parent’s pocket.
Salt, sugar and fat. Why are these consistently present in our food?
The simple answer is that it tastes good and people buy it! It is a business after all. We must remember that fat, salt and sugar are present in all foods, to varying degrees, and that they are not necessarily ‘bad for us. What is important to take into account is the amount of these foods that we consume, how often per week and portion sizes. Sugar and fat are excellent ways to preserve food and have been used for centuries in this way. These days, we eat a lot of foods that are not in season, products are shipped from all over the world and manufacturers have to maintain standards and shelf life. Sugar is in almost everything and the only way to avoid sugar is by cooking from scratch.
Why do you think retailers do not make more of a point of stocking healthier products for children particularly?
I do think that retailers (and manufacturers alike) are trying to. We are seeing more and more nutritional products from smaller-scale companies on our shelves but as I said before, it all comes down to business.
How do you come up with your recipes?
We have a person, and sometimes a team, who goes into the kitchen, experiments and comes up with fun recipes. We also take suggestions from parents who use the app. We have tried to limit the cost of ingredients and lower prices overall and we have even come up with recipes costing under £5, or under £30 for a family of four. I am very sensitive to food poverty, and awareness of cooking facilities, issues that are often forgotten in the Western world. If you have a suggestion get in touch
What other services do you provide?
Other than the app, nutritional reports, breakdowns and recipes, we also offer a one to one service with dieticians for parents seeking nutritional guidance for their children. It’s a tricky balance because, as educational and valuable as the consultations may be, they are not free. The app, on the other hand, is. As things stand now, the majority of the funds from the consultations go back into the app to provide more (free) resources for parents. Helping parents is a priority for us.
What advice do you have for new mums in general, when it comes to nutrition for their children?
Start kids on vegetables as early as you can. Often we introduce fruit first, which leans towards the sweeter side of life. By introducing vegetables first, the child’s palate will develop a ‘tolerance’ for the more ‘bitter’ or ‘sour’ side of life. Children’s palates are so refined, they can taste EVERYTHING. Their taste buds are very sensitive so it is important to introduce new foods slowly and always introduce new flavours individually. Offer the same food in different variations; raw, roasted, steamed etc…
More importantly, relax, take the pressure off yourselves and go slow!
How would you describe a ‘fussy eater’? What advice would you offer parents of fussy eaters?
I don’t think children are necessarily ‘fussy eaters’. As I mentioned above, their palates are extremely sensitive and therefore a slow and methodical approach should be employed when introducing new foods.
Do you always cook from scratch?
No, not always. I find a balance between buying ready-made foods and cooking from scratch. When I say ready-made, I am not referring to meals per se, but rather to something like a chicken that has been pre-cooked or spiced. Not everybody has the bank balance or the time to cook from scratch, so it is about finding a balance that works for you.
How did COVID-19 impact your business?
We launched in 2020 just before the emergence of the global pandemic.
We were, however, still able to talk to parents and the app was still able to be used.
A lot of people came on board because they had more time on their hands and most people started thinking more about food. On the other hand, we had a lot of in-person events lined up that were not able to happen, and this slowed us down a little.
We are continuing to grow, and are excited to see what lies ahead for us in the future.
This was originally posted on the delivery rank website