• Rowan Evans

FoundHer: Lara Rogers - Lune + Wild

With 5 children between us, at Storytellhers HQ, we are no strangers to the joys and perils of weaning. From soggy srambled eggs to lacklustre baby mush, we have had our fair share of supper time disasters - weaning takes time and effort. We got there in the end (so far) but we seriously welcome any brand that makes introducing healthy, interesting solid foods that little bit easier. Enter Lune + Wild, the latest baby food service offering a fun and nutritious alternative to the usual fodder. We spoke to co-founder Lara Rogers about the idea behind this much needed 'mum saviour'. Read it, order, thank us later....!

Tell us a bit about your self? I’ve never followed the well-trodden path in life, since training to be a chef in 2012, I’ve had a pretty colourful career. I began as a commis chef at The Ritz, London and worked my way up in kitchens around the world. From Greece to Grenada, Switzerland and Sardinia, each place has taught me something unique. Collectively, I’ve found the relationship between food and family to be particularly special, recipes passed down generations connect us to our heritage and celebrates the characteristic qualities of a country. Alongside cooking, I trained as a nutritional health coach and a yoga instructor. Health and wellbeing in relation to food is especially fascinating to me. This interest once led me to spend a week on a goat farm making Kefir, deep in the west of Wales. Last year I became an Auntie to Eve and Wilfred which has brought me boundless love and inspired the creation of Lune + Wild. Tell us a little bit about Lune and Wild...what does it do? Who is it for?

Lune + Wild allows parents to feed their babies and toddlers the most delicious, savoury meals without the hassle of batch cooking or the compromise of buying off the shelf. Flavour and variety are our champions, no more bland baby food. We want to help raise confident, curious eaters that will grow up to enjoy a healthy variety of food. We know how hard it can be to home cook a different meal each day of the week – for lack of time, space and inspiration. I have a diverse approach to my recipes, inspired by my travels, providing more than just the British classics. Expect plant-rich dahls and slow simmered stews with subtle spices.

The menu changes seasonally to include a huge variety of fresh organic produce and therefore a multitude of nutrients, protein and essential fatty-acid sources, which are crucial for a baby’s development. Our First Taste Box is the perfect tool kit to have in your freezer, 8 single ingredient organic vegetables to introduce a rainbow of flavours. For 6 months + we have our Seasonal Menu, an assortment of 8 recipes packed with over 50 organic ingredients to explore. We work alongside a Paediatric Dietitian to ensure the meals are nutritionally complete and we lock in the goodness by freezing. We deliver straight to your door. Lune + Wild exists to empower busy parents who’d like support with meals for their children guilt-free and we offer a subscription service so that parents have one less thing to remember – the meals can arrive bi-weekly or monthly. Reducing waste through our portion sizes and packaging by freezing is something we are proud of. If you want quality food you can trust to enhance your child’s development and enjoyment of new food, it’s Lune + Wild. What made you start your own business? Have you always been in the food industry? I’ve worked within hospitality for 9 years and have always wanted my work to be purposeful. While the progress in the food and wellness industry accelerated over the last decade, Baby food felt left behind. Parents needs weren’t being met on the ambient aisles of supermarkets. From the start, we’ve strived to shake up the infant food offering, to innovate and improve. Lune + Wild isn’t just another version but a better solution. What kind of things would a mum/parent get out of signing up to your service? VARIETY: We help parents give their children a seriously strong start in life. Our flavour-forward approach, using herbs and aromatic spices, broadens the palette and gives exposure to some of the more challenging tastes at the earliest stages. Research has shown that this discourages fussiness in later years. Most importantly, the meals taste great and parents can feel proud to serve them. One of our customers, Dominique kindly summarised: “I tried them all and I would have happily eaten them all too, a lot of Baby food is bland, it’s not exciting. Lune + Wild is so nutritious and sustainable, it ticks every box.” TIME: We spend hours planning the meals, sourcing the best ingredients, consulting with a Paediatric Dietitian to ensure the meals are nutritionally balanced. They are professionally home-cooked and frozen in perfect portions. All this time saved can be invested back into family time or for themselves. TRUST: We are committed to a better future, for children and the planet and we won’t cut corners to achieve the best. We source the best ingredients and create connections with our trusted suppliers. We care greatly and that personal dedication is what makes a small business special. SUSTAINABILITY: There is a lot of waste generated by raising children! By moving away from individually packaged portions, we help parents reduce the amount of single use packaging at mealtimes. We also support farmers using regenerative methods to enrich rather than deplete the soil, contributing to a better future for all.

Any tips for weaning babies? What are the common issues you are seeing? -Patience over persistence, we like this quote from Bee Wilson: “Nothing tastes good when it’s eaten in the spirit of coercion.” It can be hard to keep cool, especially when there’s siblings demanding your attention too, but the more relaxed your approach, the more likely your baby will pick up on that and enjoy the process. If they refuse something, let it slide, it really can take many attempts and you’re not doing anything wrong! -Remember that babies are still getting all the vital nutrients and calories from breast milk or formula so whilst you haven’t dropped a milk feed (up to around 9-10 months) it’s more about developing your babies oral motor skills (co-ordination, swallowing and eventually chewing and accepting new flavours). So, try not to feel too pressured for immediate success! Every baby is unique and they will tend to set their own pace. -We are born with an innate love for sweet things, the honeyed tastes of carrot and sweet potato are almost guaranteed success. However, it’s really useful to start with the more challenging tastes: courgette, spinach, sprouts, cauliflower – if you can make the most of the more open-minded early stage, you’ll thank yourself later! -Allergens: The NHS recommendation is that all major allergens can be introduced from 6 months and it is important to do so for a varied diet. Introduce them one at a time, in small quantities and a few days apart . Introduce earlier in the day to be able to observe the response. Note: it can be the second time the allergen is eaten that the reaction occurs. Once allergens have been safely introduced, it’s important to maintain them as a regular part of the babies diet. Unlike other brands, we choose to include some of the allergens in our meals to give parents the opportunity to do this and to boost the nutritional offering of our meals. If your baby already has an identified allergy or there is a family history of allergies, it is highly recommended you consult your health practitioner first. What's next for the business? We have so much in the pipeline. Our toddler meals will be available very soon. When creating these recipes the criteria is to team the nostalgic comfort foods of childhood with the characteristic Lune + Wild sense of adventure. There will be an element of disguise to supercharge the meals with heaps of nutritious vegetables for even the most suspicious toddlers. We’re plant-rich, not vegan, so there will be some well sourced animal protein in the toddler range. We are working hard to upgrade our packaging and set up shipping nationwide to reach even more children in the near future. And your go to recipes for hungry babies? Our Kale Satay is quite the crowd pleaser. Our cubes are ready in a flash, so there’s no race against the clock to keep hunger tantrums at bay. The meals we make at Lune + Wild aren’t so much quick and easy, in fact we spend hours in the kitchen creating the more labour intensive meals that parents wouldn’t simply whip up themselves. We will be launching savoury spreads that can be a toast topping or dunked with finger foods, packed with protein and seriously yummy so that even a quick toast snack can be nourishing and supporting the babies development. Who are you inspired by, in life, business and motherhood. In life: Reading Bee Wilson’s book “First Bite: How we learn to eat”. It’s an investigation into how and why we eat the way we do. Drawing from research by food psychologists, neuroscientists and nutritionists. Bee writes: “Everyone starts life drinking milk. After that it’s all up for grabs.” As parents, there is this incredible responsibility to shape the future of your child. “You are what you eat” doesn’t start in your 20s, it’s begins with the first taste. Having the power to dictate the very beginning of a child’s relationship with food might feel daunting, we exist to help make this the best start it could be. In business: Milly and Ruby, The founders of ‘By Ruby’ frozen meals, have been friends of mine since our days working together at Finns of Chelsea. Seeing the idea grow from the beginning and go from strength to strength has been so inspiring. I’ve always admired Ruby’s relentless work ethic and effortless flair with food and Milly’s ability to balance being a brilliant mother of 3 children and be the driving force behind the ambitious company is seriously impressive. In motherhood. At risk of sounding terribly corny: mother nature. Our planet, as much as our parents, gave us life. We are dedicated to protecting it in any small way we can, after all, the future of our children depends on it. The meals we make are a celebration of incredible natural flavours and we hope to encourage children to find intrigue and wonder in nature as they grow.

To find out more about the latest Lune +. Wild menu, or to place and order visit www.luneandwild.co.uk