Review 2017: Tot Cross Buns

Thank you very much to the NHM Secret Reviewer who put this post together!

Last month, my son made an amazing toad in the hole. He’s two years old. Before I sign him up for Masterchef, I should probably give some appreciation to the brilliant ladies at Tot Cross Buns.

About

Tot Cross Buns is a cookery course for children aged 2 to 5 years old, with occasional Saturday cookery classes that also welcome school age children. Their website says ‘The aim of Tot Cross Buns is to introduce children to food through taste, smell and touch all in a fun and relaxed environment. They’ll be cooking healthy recipes (some treats too!), which have all been tried and tested, and will involve the children every step of the way – and there will be no washing up to worry about!’ The classes also include a food related activity carried out whilst the food is cooking.

The classes are located at various sites in North Hampshire, close to Basingstoke, with times, locations and prices available on their website Tot Cross Buns. The business is the brainchild of local mum Allison and the classes are run by Allison and another local lady, Kerry, who runs the classes we’ve been attending.

The Class

First off I should admit, I’m a little bit in love with Tot Cross Buns. I went for a taster session last month and we have been back every week since. I’d never heard of the idea of cooking classes for toddlers before and had only seen places offering biscuit decorating etc. Here, not only do recipes include Toad in the Hole, pasta, rosemary biscuits etc, they concentrate on being healthy, with the very occasional cheeky spoily week. They teach about the foods they are using, where they come from, and tend to carry this into the week’s activities.

 

Kerry, as I’m sure Allison does too, takes the time to point out each ingredient and encourages the children to find the right ones and do as much as possible themselves. She goes around and helps where needed with support and a little one-to-one. She encourages involvement, asks lots of questions, and doesn’t miss a trick either; she will hone in on the quiet ones to make sure they feel involved (that includes my little one, and I still can’t believe he now shouts out answers to the group questions). She also encourages independence, getting the children to carry their trays up on their own, put the dirty bits in the washing up box, and collect their baking one at a time, with a round of applause at the end.

The activities themselves are well thought out and relevant to what is being cooked. From colouring, to tasting, to washing up, to planting herbs. Always different and always grabs the children’s attention whilst being educational.

All this, plus you come away with great baking too!

They also recently won the Muddy Stiletto Award for best children’s business in Hampshire 2017. Congratulations! Well deserved.

Rating out of 5

Definitely 5 out of 5

For more information contact Allison on Tot Cross Buns website or Tot Cross Buns Facebook Page

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Review 2017: Cookery Doodle Doo North Hants – Pop-up Tot’s Cooking Session

Thank you very much to today’s NHM Secret Reviewer who has done a FAB job!!!

About

Katie’s Facebook page can be found here Cookery Doodle Doo North Hants
Cookery Doodle Doo North Hants is run by Katie from her home in Whitchurch. I can’t really phrase it better than her website, so in her own words:

“In my cooking classes the children can relax and get messy, learn important skills, try new flavours and chat about where ingredients come from. It’s a brilliant way for kids to learn about real, home-cooked food. As a mum myself, I place great importance on the adults being able to enjoy it too, so there’s proper coffee and lots of opportunity to chat at my preschool classes; and my pudding club was designed to give you 2 hours off on a Sunday morning, whilst one course of the family dinner is sorted for you!” (from Katie’s website page, Cookery Doodle Doo website)

She offers Pre-School Classes, Sunday Morning Pudding Club (for 5-10 year olds), private parties, nursery visits, pop-up classes and more.

We joined Katie for one of her Pop-up Tot’s cooking sessions which was based in Overton Coffee Shop rather than at her home in Whitchurch. I’d never been to Overton before and Katie was kind enough to give me the low-down on parking which helped enormously with a toddler in tow.

Overton Coffee Shop is a lovely place, and it is definitely on my list of places to visit again. When we arrived we went through to the back and the tables were set out ready, with aprons on chairs and colourful utensils on the table. It was all beautifully prepared and nicely intriguing for little hands. Katie was great throughout, giving clear and simple instructions and working her way around to help where needed.

We made orange and chocolate bread and butter pudding, which really did impress me, especially as all the toddlers came away with a complete tray ready for baking and made safe for travel. I have to say, after baking it at home, it tasted incredible! Rather handily, we were given a recipe which I am very much looking forward to making use of. My toddler thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience and was so proud when I showed him the cooked result. Needless to say, we devoured the lot between us! All in all it was a great and special experience which I would definitely do again.

Tips

Like anything with toddlers, be prepared to get a little messy.

Food and Facilities (Overton Coffee Shop)

Whilst we didn’t stay on, the food on offer looked lovely. It certainly was the sort of place I’d happily frequent.

Toilets, baby change facilities and highchairs available. There was also a very small area of toddler toys (always a bonus in a coffee shop!)

Please note, these would be different to the courses run at Katie’s home which I’ve yet to try.

Parking (Overton)

There are two free car parks in Overton, there is also free on-road parking for up to two hours.

Prices

Please see Katie’s website for details, Cookery Doodle Doo website

Rating out of 5

5/5

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NHM readers recommend places for a Sunday dinner

I recently asked the Friends of  my “Louise nhm Smith” profile on Facebook where they like to go for Sunday Roasts within a 30 minute drive of Basingstoke. (Thank you very much to everyone who responded and thank you to Shona for putting this post together!!)

These were the responses I received.

NHM Readers Recommend Places for Sunday Roasts.

Natalie said: I enjoy the food at Longbridge Mill just after Sherfield Park

Sue said: Can’t beat a carvery, either Toby or the one just past Oakley (the Beach Arms)

Hayley said: Beach Arms

Wendy said: I like Lord Derby by junction 5. My friend’s favourite is the White Hart in Sherfield

Sarah said: The Hatch does an amazing roast. Service is always dreadful though

Holly said: The Clock and Thyme in Overton, Kids eat free!

Tracy said: Leather Bottle is great

Victoria said: Aingels Bistro in Winklebury! Amazing home cooked food and great menu that caters for vegan/gluten/dairy free

Stephany said: The Cavella Arms in Silchester

Jessica said: The Hogget is by far the best roast in my eyes

Lucy said: My meat eating hubster likes The Phoenix

Hayley said: Had a lovely roast at the Queens College Arms today

Ruth said: Just had xmas meal yesterday at The Elm Tree in Beech Hill – lovely food, owner’s and service. I suspect Sunday roast will be to similar standards

Helena said: The Rowbarge at Woolhampton. Second to none. Also good for a walk along the canal pre or post lunch

Hayley said: The Fox Inn in Newfound is lovely

Ruza said: Like the food over at The Fur and Feathers, also the Crown at Old Basing

Siobhan said: The Hoddington Arms. Dog and child friendly!

Colleen said: The Royal Oak. This place is amazing, and around the corner from Alice Holt so can be combined with an amble in the woods.

Rachel said: The Harvester in Reading is one of our favourite places to go (Mansion House).

Lindsay said: The Queen Inn at Dummer is fabulous for roasts and food in general really

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Review 2017: Kitty’s Tilted Teacup Tea Room

 Thank you very much to the NHM secret Reviewer who wrote this post!

Review 2017: Kitty’s Tilted Teacup Tea Room

I’m currently very excited about our upcoming family camping trip, but have been wondering how to keep small J warm as he wriggles free from sleeping bags and blankets quicker than I can replace them. I enlisted Grandma to knit some knee length woolly socks ready for our trip and found myself taking her to Pack Lane wool shop in Kempshott. Imagine our delight to not only discover a treasure trove of all things sparkly and crafty but a lovely little tea room out the back.

Kitty’s Tilted Teacup Tea room is a hidden delight, that I almost want to keep to myself. We treated ourselves to afternoon tea, hot chocolate and cake – which is all made by the team that run the tea room. Small J was delighted with his gingerbread man and hot chocolate and happily for the grownups they were served in child friendly plastic mugs and plates so we didn’t need to worry about accidental breakage of the beautiful crockery.

My cream egg cheesecake was moreishly smooth, even Grandma decided to taste and then had to be fended off so she didn’t finish it!  Dangerously they also provide a take away cake service, so Mr J was lucky enough to sample the Crunchie cheesecake cake after his dinner that night, which went down very very well with him. They also serve gluten free cake options. The service was quick and friendly and the tearoom had a lovely family vibe about it.

We’ve already planned a return trip when I shall be to trying out the lunch menu (and more cake of course!)

The tearoom also serves breakfast and makes cakes and cupcakes for birthdays and other occasions to order. Children can celebrate their birthday with an afternoon tea party, during which they also get to decorate a cupcake to take home.

On site there are toilet and baby changing facilities, a small car park, and beware – a tempting Pick and Mix selection that takes up most of a wall! (I’m thinking of putting blinkers on Mr J when I take him)

Booking is essential for busy times. Check out their Facebook page for more @ Kittystiltedteacuprearoom or call them on 01256 321166.

Unit 2, 171 Pack Lane, Kempshott, Basingstoke, Hampshire, RG22 5HN

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Child Friendly Pubs in Basingstoke

Thank you very much to Shona for putting this post together!

Are there any child friendly pubs in the local area that you recommend? If yes, please let me know at NorthHantsMum@gmail.com. Thanks!!!

Child Friendly Pubs in Basingstoke

Queens College Arms – Aldermaston Road, Pamber End, Tadley, RG26 5QR

  • Recommend booking in advance and asking for the “big” table.
  • They have baby changing facilities onsite and bottle warming facilities.
  • Very friendly and welcoming of Mum’s and babies.
  • For bigger children, there is a climbing frame in the pub garden.
  • Meal deal for children includes any meal plus a tub of ice cream or sorbet for £5.75

Spruce Goose – Basingstoke Leisure Park, Worting Road, Basingstoke, RG22 6PG

  • New and improved kids menu
  • All children’s mains come with 1 of your 5 a day
  • Meal deals start from £4.75 and come with a free squash
  • I’ve always found service to be slow when I’ve been there so perhaps better with older children

The Harvester – Winchester Road, Basingstoke, RG22 6HN

  • Some tables aren’t big enough for Pushchairs
  • Baby changing facilities are available in disabled toilets.
  • Menu shows the calorie content of each item
  • Starting from £5.99 there is a children’s menu with meals for small children up to 10 years old.
  • Unlimited salad cart too
  • Activity pack with colouring and games to do whilst waiting for food
  • Staff have always been lovely when I’ve been with my child

The Portsmouth Arms – Hatch Warren Lane, Basingstoke, Hampshire RG22 4RA

Food served from 8am to 9pm Monday to Thursday, 8am to 10pm Friday and Saturday and 12pm to 9pm on Sunday

  • Wooden climbing frame and swings for children.
  • Unsure if Baby changing facilities available

Millstone Pub – Barton’s Lane, Old Basing, Basingstoke, Hampshire, RG24 8AE

Food served from 12pm to 2.30pm and 6pm to 9pm Monday to Friday and from 12pm to 9pm on weekends

  • A country pub haven, yet only 5 minutes away from the hustle and bustle of Basingstoke town centre, the Millstone is set within a conservation area near to the historical Basing house ruins.
  • Children’s Playground next door. Unsure if Baby changing facilities are available.

Toby Carvery – Winchester Road, Down Grange, Basingstoke, Hampshire, RG22 4ET

(used to be Brewers Fayre, over near Beechdown gym).

  • I recommend signing up to the Toby Carvery website first as you get lots of discounts for breakfast and other meals.
  • The high chairs aren’t the cleanest so be prepared to clean them yourself when you get there.
  • Children’s menu is good and there is a meal deal for any main meal with either dairy ice cream or banana and custard for £4.99

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Proteus Café Reopening Celebrations & Family Fun Day!!!

The Creation Space Café

Monday 13th February – Saturday 18th February
9.30am – 4pm Monday to Friday
11am – 3pm Saturday

To celebrate the reopening of our café, we will be running a week of promotions and activities, culminating in a family fun day!

Starting on Monday 13th February, there will be offers and discounts available in the café, giving you the perfect excuse to come and try our drinks, cakes and lunches!

An ideal opportunity to catch up with friends, or to enjoy some time away from the office!

We will be having a family fun day on Saturday 18th February, from 11am to 3pm, offering the chance to try some new activities and have some fun!

Activities will include children’s art, craft workshops using recycled materials, musical activities for younger children, a ball pit and an indoor bouncy castle! And it is all free!!

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Child-friendly restaurants in Basingstoke

Child-friendly restaurants in Basingstoke

TOWN CENTRE

Giraffe – Town Centre

Zizzi’s – Top of Town Centre

Wagamamas – Town Centre

  • Baby Changing facilities are available in the Disabled toilet
  • Seating is on benches and generally not comfortable for breastfeeding
  • Fast and healthy food
  • If you sit at the tables near the entrance, there is enough parking for pushchairs next to the tables at the back
  • If you are pressed for time (evening feeds, etc.) you can check out your local Wagamama’s menu on the iPhone or iPad Wagamama application or check online in advance. The Mobile Applications allow you to place your order so it is ready when you arrive. You can also order takeaway using this option.
  • Excellent air con, so if it’s hot outside, this is a great place to be!

Pizza Express – Town Centre

Coal Bar and GrillTown Centre

  • One free child meal Monday – Friday between 12pm and 5pm with an adult spending £10

Pizza HutTown Centre

Debenhams Town Centre

  • Two different types of highchair, one for babies who can’t sit up and standard ones for babies who can sit up.
  • Toilets right next to restaurant with baby changing facilities
  • Selection of children’s food

Nandos Town Centre

  • Pushchairs to be left by front door
  • Not much space for highchairs

OUT OF TOWN

Pizza Express – South Ham

  • Baby Changing facilities in Disabled toilets, with cover for babies to lie on
  • Children’s menu available
  • Parking in car park is very small. Alternative parking is available at the football ground which is 3 mins walk away, however, you will need your pushchair as it’s too far to carry the car seat from.
  • Dyson hand dryers (it’s the little things that count!)
  • Very friendly people who like babies!
  • Check vouchercloud.com for discounts before going

Pizza Hut – Same shopping area as Toys R Us

The Harvester – South Ham

  • Tables aren’t big enough for Pushchairs
  • Nappy Bin smelt horrible
  • Menu shows the calorie content of each item
  • New kids menu and there are 2 sizes of children’s meals, one recommended for under 5’s and one for under 10’s

Mcdonalds Drive through – Same shopping area as Toys R Us

  • If you’re feeling more slummy mummy than yummy mummy and can’t be bothered to mobilise the army, this is a very quick place to get lunch

Morrisons CafeSouth Ham

  • Baby changing facility – not right near the restaurant but not far.
  • Space for pushchairs and highchairs
  • Baby food heating station and they even have disposable bibs
  • Small children’s play area
  • One child per adult meal over £4.50 eats free after 3pm
  • They have sandwich boxes where you can pick your snack/sweet for children as well as hot meals
  • Can be quite slow at lunchtime

Sainsbury’s CafeHatch Warren

The Beech ArmsOakley (Carvery)

The Dome Cafe ProjectBrighton Hill

Nelson’s DinerKingsclere

  • Friendly staff who welcome children
  • Good kids menu
  • Portions are large

SubwayBrighton Hill

  • Breastfeeding welcome
  • Children’s meal deals
  • Highchairs available

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More about Treasure Baskets

Awesome post by Shona!!!!

More about Treasure Baskets

Why use treasure baskets?

Treasure baskets have been used for decades by parents and childcare workers for teaching babies about different sensory items. Babies learn through touching, tasting, smelling, hearing and seeing. As babies get older, they may start to combine objects too, for example, they may use a wooden spoon to bang on a bowl. As babies will put these things into their mouths to learn about them, you must ensure there are no parts that are too small for the age of your baby. Treasure baskets are really good for babies who are not yet on the move, because it offers a wide variety of items to explore safely within reach.

Physically, your child will be developing control of their arms and their arm strength. They will also be developing hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills as they are holding and moving items around.

How to use your treasure basket 

Babies will need to be alert and there is enough time for them to be able to explore so don’t rush them. Sit them where they are comfortable and put the basket down near them. Sit close to them so you can deal with any issues but not so close that you are interfering, after all we want them to explore themselves. Don’t interrupt unless they want your attention or need your help. Check the contents of the basket regularly and remove any damaged items. Clean regularly, some items can be sterilised if you prefer. Remember your child is learning and so it’s important to almost leave them to it. They may play with very few items but this is because their concentration level is much higher than normal and they may be focussed on trying to do something specific.

When to begin using a treasure basket

Babies of all ages can use and appreciate a treasure basket, however it will need to contain items that are appropriate to their age. Babies that can’t sit could be placed on their tummy to explore items placed around them. Babies that can sit can be sat with the basket in front of them so they can reach for it themselves.

Ideas of items to put into a treasure basket

  • Toothbrush
  • Spiral toast rack
  • Corks
  • Loofah
  • Lemon squeezer
  • Large wooden dice
  • Small rolling pin
  • Curtain rings
  • Leaves
  • Scent bags
  • Old keys
  • Funnell
  • Jar tops
  • Mirror
  • Metal bowl
  • Baby spoons / forks
  • Tea strainer
  • Leather purse
  • Tennis ball
  • Bath plug
  • Wooden spoon
  • Rubber ducks
  • Soft ball
  • Hair comb
  • Greaseproof paper
  • Tin foil
  • Rattles
  • Wooden dolly pegs
  • Bobbins / cotton reels
  • Feathers
  • Pastry brush
  • Soft baby brush
  • Mini bean bags
  • Napkin rings
  • Silicone spoon
  • Wool
  • Wooden egg cup
  • Ribbons
  • Old remote control or mobile phone
  • Grass
  • Shoe brush
  • House painting brush
  • Rocks
  • Seashells
  • Musical instruments
  • Wooden massager with roller balls
  • Beaded necklaces / bracelets
  • Bells
  • Hair rollers
  • Acorns
  • Kitchen roll tubes
  • Rubber glove
  • Whisk
  • Dish cloth
  • Laminated photos
  • Pine cones
  • Sponge
  • An old CD
  • Fluffy flannel
  • Cotton wool
  • Various different materials – silk, chiffon, net curtain
  • Various sizes cardboard boxes
  • Felt – either pieces or shapes made from felt

Empty bottles – what can you do with them?

You could also use margarine tubs or empty baby food jars and fill with assorted things but you must ensure they are sealed completely shut.

Dry items – rice, pasta, lentils, buttons, hard beans, spaghetti, beads

Wet items – water with food colouring, water with glitter, water with sequins, water with buttons, ice cubes.

These items will need to be checked regularly to ensure the lids are still shut firmly and not damaged.

Food treasure baskets

For a fresh idea for lunch/snack times you could do a treasure basket with foods. You could use a tupperware box and select different textures of food to put inside. This could be good for fussy eaters too as they are able to select things they want to try and eat. You could use:

  • Bread – a variety of types
  • Breadsticks
  • Rice cakes
  • Apples
  • Grapes
  • Different coloured cheeses
  • Raisins
  • Dried fruit
  • Banana
  • Citrus fruits
  • Biscuits
  • Cooked meats
  • Pretzels
  • Biscuits

Colour baskets

You could also have baskets filled with all different colours. You could create a basket full of red, green or blue items. Younger children will greatly enjoy contrasting objects so black and white would be great for young babies. Older children may really enjoy a large rainbow of colours.

Making scent bags

Babies will love smelling all different things. You could make scent bags of your own by buying organza bags or if you are able to sew, make little bags yourself and fill them with different herbs, wood shavings, lavender, potpourri or spices. You could also use essential oils and soak a drop or two onto hankies.

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Tot Cross Buns: Children’s cooking classes!

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Childrens cooking classes

Tot Cross Buns is a cookery class for children aged from 2 years old. The business is the brain child of Allison Woolford, a Basingstoke mum who is passionate about cooking and wants to pass on this passion to children – giving them confidence with food and encouraging them to try new tastes and have fun in the kitchen with mum and dad, granny or grandad.

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Allison says:

‘I am a home cook for my husband and little girl, Lilly. I believe every child should have fun cooking, tasting and exploring food.  I have many happy memories cooking with my Dad from a young age, giving me the inspiration for Tot Cross Buns.”   Classes are educational and fun!   I also have Kerry Marsay on the team who is also a home cook with a passion in baking, she has spent many an hour baking and cooking with her two children.

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Fun and Relaxed

At Tot Cross Buns we aim to introduce children to food through taste, smell and touch all in a fun and relaxed environment. They’ll be cooking healthy recipes (some treats too!), which have all been tried and tested, and will involve the children every step of the way – and there will be no washing up to worry about!

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Food Related Activity

The classes will involve cooking anything from muffins and scones to pizza and quiche and while they’re cooking there will be a fun food related activity. This could be anything from exploring textures and tastes to planting seeds.

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Course Details and Prices

With just 8 children per class the environment is relaxed and friendly – and above all fun. The courses run for 6/7 weeks in line with the school term times and and cost £56.00. Sessions will last 45 minutes, though you should allow an hour, and children will be able to take home their goodies to share with friends and family, if they last that long!  We run classes most days of the week here is our current list:

Day/Time/Location

Monday           10am, 11:30am & 1pm             Carnival Hall, Basingstoke

Tuesday           9:45am                                    Hatch Warren Community Ctr

Carnival Hall Basingstoke

Wednesday      9:45 and 11:15am                     Hook Community Ctr

Thursday          9:45 and 11:15am                     The Point Tadley Community Ctr

Friday              9:45 and 11:15am                     Cliddesden Millennium Hall

Sherfield Village Hall

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All venues have their own parking outside the halls, including Basingstoke’s Carnival Hall in the town centre.

We also run Saturday kitchens more information on these can be found on our website and facebook pages.

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Allison and Kerry are CRB/DBS checked with a Food Safety Hygiene Certificate and First Aid Qualification.

Tot Cross Buns are offering an amazing 10% discount to all NorthHantsMum members, just enter code NHM10 on your enquiry form or through Facebook.  

To contact us please go to www.totcrossbuns.co.uk or Facebook https://www.facebook.com/totcrossbuns/

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Mama’s Meals

While you look after the baby, who looks after you?

That was a question that I couldn’t answer after I had my son Harry and so I set up Mama’s Meals, a meal delivery system for parents of newborn babies in and around the Basingstoke area.

I cook, freeze and deliver hearty meals using fresh ingredients with a focus on nutrition and wellbeing to parents who don’t have the time, energy or inclination to shop and cook but still want to eat healthily.

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How Mama’s Meals was ‘born’

I set up Mama’s Meals after my first son Harry was born. Prior to his birth I followed a clean eating regime and exercised regularly, (I was at the gym the day before he was born!). However once Harry arrived, (three and a half weeks early!) this went completely out of the window and I struggled to find the time to eat anything at all! I survived on food that could be opened and eaten with one hand, mostly toast and biscuits; this did nothing for my post-natal recovery or my mood and I would have given my right arm for a home cooked meal with some vegetables!

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Both my son and I have allergies so I’m highly experienced in preparing and cooking meals where extra care is required around ingredients and avoiding cross contamination. I apply the same principles when cooking for vegetarians and vegans. I really understand how important it is that allergies, intolerances or lifestyle choices are taken seriously and will take the utmost care when preparing your meals.

Mama’s Meals offers a healthy alternative to takeaways and supermarket ready meals which are often laden with hidden fats, salt, sugar and preservatives. The portion sizes of takeaways and shop bought ready meals often don’t leave you feeling satisfied and this way of eating can be very costly.

Delicious and nutritious

I focus on providing meals which are nutritionally dense and aid post-birth recovery. My meals are also ideal if you’re breastfeeding as they ensure that you receive a balanced meal with a healthy amount of calories and as many vitamins and minerals as possible. For example instead of using 100% potato mash I add in carrot and swede to increase the vitamin content whilst ensuring a great taste! I also sneak extra vegetables into items such as the tomato sauce in my lasagne, an easy way to hit your 5 a day.

 

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Perfect for as long as you need

Even if you got the chance to cook and freeze some meals before you gave birth, (which I didn’t – I hadn’t even started maternity leave!) your freezer can only store so much. Mama’s Meals will provide you with home-cooked meals on a weekly basis for as long as you need and also offers a great range of meals so you don’t get bored.

Flexible meal choices

I offer a choice of lunches and dinners for you, you and your partner or for your entire family. You can choose to order meals for the entire week but if you fancy a takeaway at the weekend you can order less, (minimum of 5 meals per person, per week).

I deliver on a Saturday or Sunday so that you have meals for the coming week.

Good home cooked food

Mama’s Meals is not a diet program, it’s fresh, home-cooked food, frozen immediately to protect the nutritional content that aids post-birth recovery and breastfeeding and is the type of food I cook and eat at home.

For more information and to browse our amazing meal selection why not visit our website by clicking here

Or visit us on Facebook

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