A knock on the door at the end of a long day spent wrangling with your children — salvation arrives in the form of a small cooler box. Your children's meals for the next day, cooked fresh, from scratch, all packaged and delicious and ready to eat. For an overwhelmed parent, there are few sweeter luxuries than not having to worry about where your child's next meal will — literally — come from.
Hence, Yum by Mum (www.yumbymum.com) was born. Two Dubai mothers, Antonia Ellis and Carla Lewis, have realised how much busy mothers would love to outsource food preparation, especially if it means that children will be eating healthy, nutritious, cooked-from-scratch meals, without all the trouble.
"Yum by Mum was developed through our own experiences of trying to work full-time, managing our home life and then trying to find the time and inspiration to provide healthy and nutritious meals for our children," explains Ellis, a British mother of two, to daughters Jemima, 6, and Matilda, 3. "It often felt like an uphill battle, and both Carla and I agreed there had to be a better way."
Ellis had a full-time corporate job in Dubai when she met her compatriot Lewis, a working mother whose daughter Scarlett was born last year.
"When I returned to work following my maternity leave, I found managing family life very difficult," Lewis says. "As a new mother, weaning was very daunting and also time-consuming, and I often complained to Antonia that I had little quality time to spend with my husband in the evenings after work. It was clear that we were both facing similar challenges, although our children were in different age groups."
Despite the differences in their children's ages, Lewis and Ellis were in the same boat: planning and shopping for, then cooking, balanced, wholesome meals simply took too much time and effort.
So they created a service where children's meals are cooked in the mornings, using fresh ingredients, then delivered in the evenings to families who sign up for the meal plan.
Lewis and Ellis say that these are meals based on recipes they have used to feed their families: no salt, sugar or preservatives, and everything is made from fresh ingredients and locally sourced, organic produce.
"We offer more than 70 different dishes, made from a combination of vegetables, fruits, and proteins," they say. "Parents simply go to the Yum by Mum website, select a meal plan that is relevant to their child's stage of development, and then choose how long they want the meal plan to run."
Every evening, a small cooler
box is delivered to the subscriber's front door. Inside, protected by ice packs, are fresh meals packaged safely and ready to eat.
Older children get wholesome meals such as baked chicken nuggets with mashed potato and steamed vegetables; a hearty cottage pie; or homemade cheese pizza with fresh tomato sauce. Parents with babies who are being weaned can choose from stage-one purées, which are based on fruits and vegetables, and include combinations such as sweet potato and orange purée or a carrot, tomato and basil mix, or move on to stage two, which introduces animal-based proteins in dishes such as braised beef with sweet potato or chicken and lentils.
Ellis and Lewis have left their full-time jobs to concentrate on Yum by Mum. Every morning, they can be found in their kitchens, supervising the preparation of the day's meals and tasting along the way.
While all food is cooked in a completely nut-free environment, substitutions or a tailored meal plan are not yet offered by Yum by Mum. Instead, parents can check the website ahead of time to see what is on the menu.
The meals are delivered across Dubai; service to Abu Dhabi and Sharjah is slated to begin in the next two weeks. Meal plans cost from Dh156 for a three-day plan, which includes two stage-one baby purées a day.
"Ninety per cent of the mothers we talk to say that they would love to cook their children's meals from scratch," Lewis says.
But for a multitude of reasons, it often proves too difficult. Children in different age groups have different needs, and require food with different textures. Or parents may not, for example, like to eat seafood, but want to expose their children to fish despite not eating it themselves.
"Whatever the reason," Lewis says, "Yum by Mum is here to help by giving families a way to feed their little ones without that all too familiar 'mummy guilt'."