Here at Naturalmat Baby we have our eyes set on a sustainable future. Back in 1999, we were the first company in the UK to create a fully natural-fibre nursery mattress with absolutely no chemicals, and we’ve been conscious of further reducing our impact on the environment ever since. We love it when we see other brands pioneer ethical and sustainable practices within their industry - which is why we were so excited when we were introduced to Flora, founder of homemade baby food delivery service Pots for Tots.
From their new kitchen in Brixton, the small team at Pots for Tots create healthy-hearty baby and toddler food which little ones love to eat. There are always at least 4 vegetables included in every dish to make sure your child is getting the nutrients they need, and their comprehensive menu offers an unmatched variety for a balanced and healthy diet. Pots for Tots strives to buy organic, and all of their meat is free-range, responsibly sourced by Clapham staple M.Moen & Sons Butchers. With sustainable packaging consisting of recyclable Kraft paper pots and recycled denim delivery box liners, Pots for Tots are committed to making their industry a healthier and more sustainable place.
We sat down with Flora for five questions on how she’s building a better future in baby food. Pots for Tots have also offered Naturalmat Baby readers a generous discount of 15% off your first order - see below for more details.
We’d love to know more about yourself, and where the idea for Pots for Tots came from. How did it all begin?
Before Pots for Tots, I was living in London with my partner Charlie and 2 year old toddler, Toby, while juggling a busy career in PR. I really struggled to balance a full time job with picking Toby up from nursery, spending quality time with him at home and cooking something genuinely nutritious for him every evening.
Ready-made meals from the supermarket (particularly the healthy ones) just weren’t an option for us. The food either stayed on the plate or went on the floor. So after a growing dependency on fish fingers and pasta ravioli, I started to look for options to order healthy homemade meals for him.
However, there really wasn’t anything that met the criteria I was looking for: convenient, home-made, nutritious and food Toby would actually eat! So that’s when I decided to do something about it and started thinking up names, logos and recipes. The fun began!
We’ve heard a little about your Master Taste Tester Toby, and we’d love to know more. Who creates your recipes?
Yes - Toby (aka the chief taster), has always been a very important part of the business. He trials every recipe we make. It’s crucial our customer’s children actually want to eat our meals, and so far he’s been an excellent critique - we get a lot of feedback that even the fussiest of toddlers love Head Chef Beth’s recipes.
The Veggie Lasagna and the Fish Pie have always been his absolute favourites. However, it’s also great to see him enjoying some of our more adventurous recipes, such as the Parsnip Dhal and Coconut Fish Curry.
My Head Chef and I come up with recipe ideas together, she’s really good at thinking of ways to get a lot of flavour in the meals without any salt. We then run them past our nutritional consultant before trialling them in the kitchen.
Your local deliveries in Central London using Hived are a brilliant idea - how important is sustainability to you and what else are you doing on this front?
We are so pleased with Hived, our London delivery team, they have been brilliant, and yes, they only use electric vehicles to deliver our meals around London.
Of course in the world we live in today sustainability is at the forefront of every brand and new business idea, as it should be! Right from the start recyclable packaging was a key priority. However, this did come with its challenges.
It took me ages to find the perfect pots; I needed something recyclable, microwaveable and freezer-friendly. However, it was worth it, it makes all the difference knowing we are not using single use plastic, and my customers can order again and again without feeling any environmental guilt. Our boxes, liners, stickers, ingredients cards, and the dry ice keeping the meals cold, are all recyclable as well.
Food waste is another major problem with businesses like ours, which is something that really bothers me. This was actually one of the main reasons we decided to choose frozen meals. I really didn’t like the idea of having to throw away meals that we hadn’t sold that week. We also try to use any leftovers from cooking days, such as using roast chicken bones and vegetable ends to make chicken stock.
Sourcing products from the right suppliers is also really important to us. We use organic free-range meat from a butcher who only works with regenerative farms. They produce the finest meat, while following farming methods that put the soil first. We order all our veg from New Covent Garden Market and they are delivered in cardboard boxes, which they then pick up the next day.
Choosing the sustainable way is not always the easiest choice, but it is always the most rewarding in the end.
How does the future look at Pots for Tots?
We have actually just moved into a new kitchen in Brixton, so we now have the room to expand. We have been working on new sleeve packaging, new recipes (including some snacks and extras) and a whole new checkout on our website.
Over the next few months, we want to make sure we have as many meal options available to our customers as possible, including healthy snacks, sauces, dips and desserts. We are keen to expand into Delis and Farmshops, so our pots are even more easily accessible to our customers.
Another top priority at the moment is redesigning our customer accounts to make it super simple for our subscription customers. We know our subscribers really appreciate not having to think about ordering every few weeks or months and we want to make it easy for them to swap and add new meals and snacks.
Ultimately our goal is to give parents more time for themselves, their children and their friends, while their little ones still grow up eating healthy homemade food for every meal.
And finally, do you have any tips for feeding fussy toddlers?
I actually love this question because I’ve learnt so much from talking to customers about this and obviously from feeding my own toddler. I could go on forever but I’ll just give you a few of the ones that have worked best for me.
1) More flavours, more often
Make sure your baby/toddler is trying as many different foods and flavours as possible from a young age. Don’t just give them pasta and fish fingers because it’s easy, branch out and be experimental. This really does help children to be less fussy later down the line.
2) Sauce saviour
If your toddler is particularly disinterested in a meal don't be afraid to add a sauce .i.e gravy or pesto or something you know they already like, or grate some cheese on top - this could be the driving force to get them going.
3) Wrap it up
If there is a flavour your little one has never tasted before, like a curry, you can put the whole meal inside a pitta bread, wrap or omelette. Then the next time they eat it they will already be used to the new flavours/ spices.
4) Incentivise them
Use phrases to encourage them, tell them how clever they are if they try new things, or how they will grow up big and strong if they finish the meal.
5) Make food fun
Turn the food into an aeroplane or a choo-choo train to keep their attention, or make fruit and vegetables into shapes. This could be putting smiley faces on fish pies or cutting vegetables into stars or hearts using cookie cutters.
It’s important to try and get your child to try new meals, but without force feeding them, you don’t want to put them off. Sometimes they are just not hungry and you can always get them down from the table and try again later.
The real key is not to give in to pressure from your toddler and give them too many snacks between meals. Try and make sure they are hungry for mealtimes, and you’ll be a lot more successful!
Naturalmat Baby readers can get an exclusive 15% off of their first Pots for Tots order by using the discount code NATURAL15 at checkout. To build your box, visit the Pots for Tots website. Valid throughout August 2022.