Alison Mountford, CEO and founder of Ends+Stems, tells us more about her amazing meal planning service that not only saves time and stress, but helps families cut down on food waste, too.
I’ve been a chef for 20 years, and have worked extensively as a personal chef. I also owned a café which had a meal delivery aspect to it – essentially what I do best is help people get dinner on the table. However, the environmental impact of Ends+Stems was more of a personal journey.
It was really important to me to encourage people to take action to create a better world in terms of the environmental impact we have on our planet. This is why I sold my catering business and decided to launch Ends+Stems – where putting food on the table is an educational journey for both parents and children alike.
Having cooked in hundreds of people’s homes over the years, and having chatted with people on a practical level, what seems to be the biggest challenge for most is the stress of deciding what to make for dinner.
Ends+Stems aims to put an end to that stress. It’s a digital meal planning service that provides recipes, grocery lists, instructions for preparing ahead of time, and ideas to help families use leftover ingredients. It works on a subscription basis, costing $14 per month.
My recipes fit together like a puzzle in order to help you buy fewer ingredients at the store and use them up effortlessly. For example, if Monday’s recipe requires cilantro, I will make sure that Wednesday's recipe requires the leftover cilantro from Monday.
Essentially, I do the mental labor, but the cooking and shopping is left to the clients.
Yes, definitely! I think modern-day mothers bend over backwards to make sure their kids have a meal consisting of food they like, which often means they’re cooking two separate meals. I believe children become healthier eaters if they’re introduced to a “family meal”, where they may not like everything in front of them, but are sure to find something. This is how their palate grows and matures.
I originally didn’t include instructions for kids' meals. However, after about a year-and-a-half of running the subscription program, I realized a lot of people were happy with the meals they were cooking, but their kids were not eating them.
I then pivoted the business to cater for families with children, providing the same recipes but giving tips on how to tweak them to suit younger ones without having to cook a completely different meal. This also works for picky adults, as recipes can be simplified.
No thinking! All the work is done for you. I wanted to provide people with a meal plan and grocery list but I always felt strongly about not delivering groceries, as I feel it’s important to give the client freedom of choice when it comes to where they purchase their produce.
One of the most rewarding aspects of the business is when people tell me that by following my recipes they feel they’re doing their bit to help the planet and are starting to think more about the process of food waste.
People are not only gaining confidence and creativity in the kitchen, they’re also becoming more proactive when it comes to the reduction of food waste. If we all do this, we can really make a difference in our methane emissions.
Yes, I do. Now the pandemic is slowing down, tolerance, budget, and time spent in the kitchen has plummeted and most people only want to spend 10 to 15 minutes preparing their meals.
I have an eBook called Hangry which features recipes that require just six ingredients and can be ready in 10 minutes or less. This is very popular!
I write and test all my recipes – every single one! I would definitely serve all the dishes to my family and would recommend loved ones do the same for theirs.
I’m usually three to four weeks ahead of my meal planning program, as I’m busy testing and putting new recipes together for the weeks to come. This is the part of the business I love the most, if truth be told!
The overwhelming advantage would be that customers don’t have to take on the mental load of deciding what to cook and what to shop for – I do that for them. In addition, they’re able to break free from their culinary rut.
In a nutshell; ease of planning, new recipes, and the environmental benefits. I think people feel great when they’re not throwing food away and when they see the positive actions they’re taking to contribute to the health of our planet.