Quick Chat with Monica Meldrum from Whole Kids

Words by Samantha Brennan

We’ve been working with the folks at Whole Kids to help get their healthy food message out to mums and dad everywhere. Founded by a husband-and-wife team with a toddler of their own, Whole Kids’ owner Monica Meldrum recently explained to us why she and partner, James, took the plunge and launched their own line of healthy snacks for kids.

Founder of Whole Kids, Monica, and her daughter, Chloe

Founder of Whole Kids, Monica, and her daughter, Chloe

Q: Tell us a little bit about Whole Kids – why did you and your husband, James, decide to create a range of snack foods for kids?

Whole Kids is a range of 22 certified organic, additive-free, allergy friendly snack foods that have been developed in consultation with dietitians and over 300 families. I was inspired to create Whole Kids after traveling to northern Sumatra in Indonesia to deliver an aid program to children living in poverty. I created Whole Kids to provide a healthier future for children.

Q: What do you love about running a food business, and what are the biggest challenges?

Creating quality products that make a difference to the health of children. The best part of my role is working with kids to create products they’ll love and then receiving feedback from parents who discover our healthy, junk-free alternatives for their kids to enjoy. Our biggest challenge is competing with the marketing tactics of big food companies. Their expensive advertising budgets mean we have to think smarter and act differently to get our voice heard so that parents know there are healthier options available for their kids.

Q: You’re obviously passionate about healthy food, but like so many of us I’m sure some days it isn’t easy to get dinner on the table! What are your go-to recipes, ideas or ingredients for family meals that are fast, healthy and tasty?

I’m all for using fresh ingredients and making good quality nutritious meals quickly. One of my favourites is a beet, carrot and apple salad. I grate the vegies and apple, and then add a lemon dressing. Kids love the sweetness of the salad and the colours and it’s a great salad to serve with fish and some homemade hommus on the side. I also often cook baked potatoes and add a range of vegies, avocado and dips to them. Sweet potatoes cook very quickly and have a gorgeous sweet, caramel texture, which my daughter loves. Our own version of tacos, using an organic and additive-free wrap, and adding grated zucchini, carrot and other vegies, is also a hit in our house. We also make a lot of smoothies and veg juices, particularly on days when our daughter hasn’t eaten very well. It’s a great way to get lots of nutrients into her fast. Her favourite is a green smoothie with spirulina, maca powder, chia seeds and cacao nibs, along with fresh fruit. I find that having coloured straws handy also makes drinking water, soups and juices fun and she seems to consume a lot more when we use them.

Q: You’ve been at the helm of Whole Kids for 10 years – what have you learnt in that time about balancing work life with family life?

As the mum of a very active three year old, I need to be super organised at work and at home so that the time we have together is quality time and I am totally present when I am with her. I have learned to trust my team to share the load. We are a very small team operating in a dynamic and fast-paced environment. We set weekly, monthly and quarterly goals to stay focused. I segment my day to make sure I’m giving my team the time that they need as well as allowing myself space for thinking and planning. Home is for home time. My phone goes off and people know not to contact me out of office hours. It’s taken some time to get the balance right and it’s something I need to continue to work at. Finding time for myself is also important, even if it’s taking a walk at lunch time.

Q: What three words best describe your family kitchen?

“Wholesome” with lots of “variety” and also “fail safe”, for days when things just go awry!