Meals by Mel

Melinda Henry -  Food Stylist, Home Economist and Food Editor.
Melinda Henry - Food Stylist, Home Economist and Food Editor. 

Tell us about your business?
My business is called Meals by Mel and it is a recipe and meal planning website for busy families.
For $19.95/YEAR I provide 5 easy dinner recipes/ week including the shopping list.

Members can choose from a normal meal plan or a gluten-free one.

Members also gain access to a recipe collection, step by step recipes and just recently, online cooking demonstrations.

My main focus is to provide quick, easy and nutritious meals using fresh ingredients so therefore minimising preservatives.

Why did you start your business?
I started my business because I often had friends asking me- What can I make for dinner? With my background in nutrition, recipe development and food styling I decided that I might be able to help busy people out by doing the thinking, planning etc for them. I also have a strong belief in providing children with good wholesome food with limited exposure to high levels of sugar, salt, fat and preservatives etc.

The biggest challenges would be fitting it all in and also letting go.

Has starting your own business lived up to expectations?
I didn’t really have any expectations so yes I guess it has. It certainly has its great moments but can also be very frustrating.

What have you enjoyed most about running your own business?
I really enjoy getting feedback from my customers who love my recipes. That’s definitely the best part! When someone says “thanks you’ve changed my life” it makes my day.

What is the biggest challenge?
Exposure. It’s really hard to get my service out to people with my limited marketing budget.

Do you have any children – what are their names/ages?
Yes I have two children. Molly is 5 and Jake is 2. They keep me very busy!

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How do you manage to juggle the running of your business with family?
Sometimes I don’t even know myself how I manage it. I guess I just squeeze in work when I can- I spend a lot of late nights on the computer and I am very lucky to be able to develop my recipes and photograph them at home so I often get the kids involved. My husband has also just started helping me with the online demonstrations- he is my camera man!

What is the hardest thing about being a working mother?
The lack of time- I never feel like I have enough hours in my day. Sometimes I just want to forget about it all and just play with the kids.

What do you think about ‘me’ time? And do you manage to fit some in?
I think ‘me’ time is very important. Without some sort of ‘me’ time you’d go crazy!! I do manage to fit some in- my thing is going to the gym. I love doing the dance, step classes etc. It is just one hour of my day when I can switch off and not think about anything. I try to get there at least 3 times a week.

Have you ever thought about giving it up?
I have thought about giving it all up many times- mainly when I’m really tired. It’s hard to put so much work into something and receive little reward but then I’ll get great feedback from one of my customers and it all seems worth it.

Do you have a favourite networking opportunity or event?
Not really.

Do you have any advice for someone starting their own business?
Have passion for what you are doing. It makes it all so much easier. Remember that things are going to be hard and you’ll usually go backwards for a while before you go forwards. Also be patient- it’s very important.

For more info on Melinda's meal planning service head to Meals by Mel.

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