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Author Sarah Kirton
Sarah Kirton Writer
Updated on Jun 27th, 2024
Fact checked by Deborah Leigh

Our Happy Mess 2024: Fast, Easy and Delicious!

DeliveryRank chats with Ann Otis, the heart and soul of the blog Our Happy Mess. Ann lives in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, with her husband Phil and their two energetic boys, Jack and Leo. Ann loves to cook and have fun in the kitchen, aiming to provide quick, family-friendly, easy recipes. With a passion for teaching and making cooking accessible, Ann's journey from a busy working mom to a dedicated food blogger is all about bringing joy through delicious, practical meals.

Ann, what inspired you to start your blog, Our Happy Mess?

I’ve always had a passion for cooking and baking, and knew I wanted a career that allowed me to get creative in the kitchen, but I was stuck in a desk job that was burning me out. Desperate to get out of my career rut, I tried various food ventures on the side, from catering, to selling biscotti, to homemade candy bars, just  waiting for something to click. 

Finally, I decided to really put myself out there and started a website, despite being a very private person. My blog allowed me to make the recipes I wanted to make, build something from scratch, according to my personal aesthetic, and the opportunity was so liberating! I wasn’t sure I’d ever make a living with my site, but it was the creative outlet I needed at the time.

After a while, traffic started to grow and I saw the potential was there. By combining the modest income from my website and freelance video work for bigger blogger clients, I was finally able to make a living from cooking, on my own terms; my dream from the beginning. 

How do you balance creating quick, family-friendly recipes with maintaining the quality and taste that you are passionate about?

In the beginning of my cooking journey, I was always looking for the “best” recipe for everything, and would go out of my way to source obscure ingredients, try complicated cooking techniques and multiple course meals. Then I had my first child, was still working full-time outside the home, and realized how unrealistic that kind of cooking was for families like mine. 

My website was founded on the belief that you can make delicious, healthy, family-friendly, and flavor-forward meals without all the fuss, and now I work hard every day to help people fit cooking from scratch into their busy lives.

I try to maintain a realistic approach, in that I think it’s always great to cook from scratch, but I also think shortcuts like using a rotisserie chicken or pre-cut vegetables are perfectly fine! In fact these are great ways to make the cooking process less time-consuming and intimidating.

Can you share some tips on how to manage cooking for a family while dealing with a busy work schedule and active children?

Meal planning is an approach that I’ve always adhered to and strongly believe in. Plan a menu for the week on the weekend and do all your shopping for the week. You do not want to be trying to make a decision about what to make that night for dinner at 5pm. Knowing exactly what you’re making and what you need to do to get it on the table is truly half the battle, and is so helpful in reducing stress and burnout from cooking.

I also like to do a little meal prep on the weekend, chopping vegetables, making sauces, cooking proteins, and that sort of thing, to really streamline the cooking process on those busy weeknights. It really doesn’t take much time, and will make such a difference!

What are some of your favorite eco-friendly practices in the kitchen, and how do you incorporate them into your daily cooking routines?

I believe that meal planning is also the key to reducing food waste. Planning ahead allows you to make the most of the ingredients you buy, when you select recipes that use the same ingredients. As an extra bonus, this will definitely help you buy less and stay within your food budget!

We are lucky to have a municipal composting service in our city and I highly encourage anyone with access to a composting service to take advantage of it. Composting is a powerful action we can take to put some of our trash to good use and keep it out of the landfills.

Bulk bins are also a terrific way to cut down on food waste AND excess packaging. I’m always looking for ways to eliminate single-use plastics and other wasteful packaging. Bulk bins allow you to bring your own container and buy only what you need.

How has your journey with food and cooking changed since becoming a mother, and what are some of your go-to healthy recipes for your family?

I have a couple of picky kids, so I know the struggle of trying to feed a family when everyone wants something different. A great way I’ve found to make a meal work for multiple preferences is to start with a base - this could be rice, noodles, beans, lettuce, etc. And then allow everyone to add the additional components that appeal to them. This way I don’t have to make 4 different meals, and everyone is able to customize things to their taste.

In general we can all agree on homemade pizza (easy to customize toppings by slice!), stir fries, many chicken dishes, turkey meatballs and burgers, and many pasta dishes. When my husband and I feel like something bold and different, we’ll often make a “picky platter” of fresh fruits, vegetables, cheese, and leftover chicken for the kids.

Also, whenever I make a meal that one of my kids loves, I make sure to freeze a portion or two for emergencies! 

If you would like to find out more about Our Happy Mess, please visit https://www.OurHappyMess.com


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We rank vendors based on rigorous testing and research, but also take into account your feedback and our commercial agreements with providers. This page contains affiliate links.Advertising DisclosureThis is a user-oriented comparison website, and we need to cover hosting and content costs, as well as make a profit. The costs are covered from referral fees from the vendors we feature. Affiliate link compensation does not affect reviews but might affect listicle pages. On these pages, vendors are ranked based on the reviewer’s examination of the service but also taking into account feedback from users and our commercial agreements with service providers. This website tries to cover important meal, coffee and pet food delivery services but we can’t cover all of the solutions that are out there. Information is believed to be accurate as of the date of each article.
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