How did you get started with Menus4Mums?
I went back to work part-time after I had both my children, but the job was very demanding (although very interesting and stimulating) and involved a long commute into London. Once my eldest child started primary school, things came to a head and I took a career break. I’d always wanted to have my own business, so I decided to use the opportunity to give it a go.
The idea for Menus4Mums came about when I was in a coffee shop chatting to other mums about what we could do in business which would fit around our families. We all agreed that a business would need to be something we enjoyed doing ourselves, and I enjoyed planning out my family’s meals, to make sure they were balanced and interesting but also that they didn’t cost a fortune. I thought maybe busy mums who didn’t have the time or wish to do this themselves might be willing to pay for such a service, especially if it saved them money!
How did the name Menus4Mums come about?
I played about with names for quite a while. I wanted something which would describe what I did in the name, and I needed to make sure the name would have an internet domain name available. I also wanted something which would roll off the tongue quite easily. So Menus4Mums was born!
How did you develop the concept for Menu4Mums?
I went on some great business courses organised by Business Link. They enabled me to draw up a plan so I could develop Menus4Mums over a number of months to fit around caring for my son who was at nursery just a couple of days per week. First off, I drew up a business plan which made me think about the business and how to make it profitable. The business plan is an ever-changing document but a really useful one! I then thought of the processes involved in the business – how I would structure and draw up the menu plans and get them to my customers.
After that, I was ready to start approaching web designers to find the best one to build my site (IT is not my greatest strength!). That took quite a bit of too-ing and fro-ing but I was really happy with the result. All the while this was going on, I was busily collecting together all my favourite family recipes and those from friends and relatives. And Menus4Mums went live in November 2009, so we are now 1 year old!
What is your best tip for Mums when it comes to menu planning & budgeting?
’I would suggest people think about what they’ve got on for the coming week, so they only plan meals for people who will be eating at home. Also, schedule quick meals for when they will be getting home late. Look on the internet at what offers their supermarket has that week and build in recipes using these ingredients. Then draw up a meal plan. It’s also a good idea to look at what they’ve already got lurking in their freezer and fridge, as they’ve probably got at least a couple of meals worth of food already!
What has been the most exciting collaboration you’ve worked on so far?
There have actually been two. Earlier this year, I was invited by Thenewiceage.com to become an “Mumbassador” for frozen food. I was happy to do so as I think frozen fruit, vegetables and fish are of good quality and value. As part of this, I was invited to one of Aldo Zilli’s restaurants in Soho where he personally cooked us a meal using frozen ingredients. It was absolutely delicious!
Then earlier this month, I was one of the supporters for the iRelaunch conference at the London Business School, which helps professional women who’ve become stay-at-home mums get back into the workplace if they want to. There was a great atmosphere at the event, and so many were interested in my story of setting up my own business.
What do you have to say to the next generation, particularly for those hoping to follow in your footsteps?
That makes me sound old!! Seriously though, I would strongly recommend that other women give it a go and set up their own business if that’s what feels right for them. If they are nervous, maybe look at something that doesn’t require a lot of start-up capital? They should also definitely contact Business Link who have given me invaluable advice and support – all for free! And check out some of the online forums for women in business, such as Mumsclub.