Want to feed your children nutritious food without spending all of your spare time in the kitchen? Elise Ellsmore has the answer!
Time, food and sleep.
Any new parent will tell you these three things become all-consuming once a new baby comes into your life.
Especially when said baby crosses over into eating solids and what was an already hectic schedule can quickly tip into the ‘unmanageable’ category.
Unless of course, you’re Elise Ellsmore.
The clever mum of 11-month-old Jude, a passionate baby-led weaner from New South Wales, used the collective power of her mother’s group to solve a very relatable problem:
How to make enough home-made baby food to nourish baby son, Jude, without spending all her time in the kitchen?
“I didn’t want to spend hours in the kitchen making a load of food every week, and I didn’t have a big enough freezer,” Elise told Kinderling.
And so, Snack Swap was born.
Elise started by asking four other women in her mother’s group to make a dish and bring to their meet-ups once a week. The women then divvied up the food among them and in so doing, were able to give their babies a variety of healthy meals and snacks.
The idea took off quickly and before she knew it, all 12 members of Elise’s mother’s group had rolled up their sleeves and started cooking.
And when Elise mentioned the idea in a baby-led weaning Facebook group she’d joined, someone suggested she start her own group and off she went!
Cooking for your family on Kinderling Conversation:
Here’s how Snack Swap works
Every month before Elise’s mother’s group meeting, she posts a notice in their Facebook group.
“It’s a bit of a roll call to work out who is interested in making something to share the following week, and what they’ll be making.”
With that information to hand, Elise works to a ratio of two savoury dishes to one sweet.
There’s no set budget for the dishes the women decide to make, but Elise says they rotate the meat/fish dishes to avoid one person being landed with the cost.
Being food, there are several rules around safety and hygiene; the full list is pinned to the top of the group’s Facebook page.
“The main things relate to the freshness of the food,” Elise told Kinderling. “The meals can’t be pre-frozen, they need to be fresh and made within 48-hours of the Snack Swap.”
Portion sizes are deemed to be the size of a mini-muffin or golf ball and they need to be as even as possible.
This is one area Elise admits is a bit of a work in progress. She said her mother’s group started off using ziplock bags to divvy up the food to take home from the Snack Swap, but she’d been conscious of the environmental waste.
“Now we go for the more environmentally friendly option,” says Elise. “We all bring a big container and use tongs to divide the food up amongst us before heading home.”
Zucchini slice is a favourite in Elise’s mother’s group, with banana coconut bread and curried lentil slice also on high rotation.
“We made so much zucchini slice in the first few weeks of doing this, because the kids loved it so much!” laughs Elise.
The thrill of creating a community
Elise told Kinderling she’s thrilled with how fast the Snack Swap idea is growing.
“Every time someone shares the group or just the idea on Facebook, we get overwhelmed with mums saying, ‘This is amazing!’ or ‘OMG we need to try this!’.
“I think it’s such a success because not only does sharing food like this mean our babies are getting a variety of healthy, homemade food, it also saves us mums some time!”
And with plans for an e-book and maybe even a group just for school lunches in the works, it looks like it could just be the beginning of the journey.