This is for the new mums. The exhausted parents. The time-poor with children. If you haven’t heard of Mamabake, it’s something you should know about – whether you’ve recently had your first child or are parents to a tribe of kids of various ages, Are a bit tired of your own cooking repertoire, need some inspiration or the excitement of something new for dinner.
Recently I went along to a Mamabake meetup in my local area. I didn’t know what to expect but had read online about the concept. Big batch cooking by mothers that come together to cook and then divide amongst themselves and all in the name of freeing up time for mums. Sounded good to me!
At the mamabake meetup, it was very relaxed, mums standing around the kitchen talking and relating to each other about their children’s latest triumph or injury. The kids came along and played together well, until the last half hour or so when we knew the event was coming to a natural conclusion anyway. There were babies to be slept, kids to have napped, mums to go to work and so on – the beauty of a modern life.
How it worked: We had a total of 5 mums attend. 2 of us had prepared the meals in advance, 2 cooked on the day and one dropped her food off and said she was coming back to collect her results after a session at the gym (another sign of modern mothering – making use of the time you have and multi-tasking!)
We all helped keep an eye on the children as they played and helped each other with dishwashing and dividing up the food feast we had laid out before us. During this meet we had Chicken Tagine, Beef meatloaf, Dhal soup, Chicken Patties, Vegetarian Cauli Koftas, Quinoa & Carrot Patties, Chicken Coconut Curry, and a Nut, Gluten & Dairy free chocolate cake. Well! We were astounded with ourselves. For a first meetup we all went home with bags full to the brim of meals made with love and wholesomeness.
Dietary Restrictions: Our only restriction was Nut-free because of one of the children’s allergy. And we added that our Mamabake Group would make healthy food with real ingredients(avoiding preservatives and the like). The looser guidelines were Dairy, Grain & Sugar Free food. You may think that’s restrictive and where do you start with a brief like that, but really it meant that we had hearty, simple meals that saw the best of meat & vegetables shine.
Choosing a Theme: Each group can determine a theme if they want to by region, cooking style or even type of food eg: Asian, Slow cooked, or a Sauce Meetup (passata, bbq, chili, sambal) The possibilities are endless and entirely up to your creativity.
I would highly recommend a Mamabake meetup to mothers who:
- are in a mothers group who need an excuse to meetup,
- have friends that might be struggling with inspiration for their evening meals
- find it a challenge to be organised for dinner in advance
- are time poor and want to gain some time back for themselves
- need to talk to other mother’s to have an adult conversation and get the kids out of the house
- like to cook, like food and like to enjoy home-cooking
- are looking to improve their eating habits
- are sick of making the same food over and over again
- like the element of surprise, tasting something different to your own cooking
Work things out as you go
The only challenge would be estimating how much food is enough for big batch cooking and enough for your group, but the rewards you gain at the end of a meetup, makes you feel grateful for everyone’s collaboration. I would say my estimation for my first time was too small, but then again I’m used to cooking for 2 adults and 1 child. These things you learn as you go along – quantity and multiplying recipes.
I also find myself flicking through recipe books differently now looking for my next Mamabake inspiration:
- Can this recipe work in a big batch?
- Will this be enough for a family of four?
- What’s the practicality of cooking this quantity- will my pots be big enough?
- When shall I time my cooking the night before, morning of or at the meetup?
- Will this recipe store well- in the Fridge? Freezer?
- Can this recipe be a base for the individuals creation? Or is it a staple that can be added to a main dish? eg stocks, sauces, soups, purees, condiments.
- When can I make time in my week to prepare and cook this? Is it simple for me?
- Is it using quality, healthy ingredients?
- Is it affordable, yet still good quality?
Online support: The Mamabake website has a lot of information on it regarding starting a group, recipes galore and especially big batch recipes, social media and groups posting pictures of what they’re making. Some good solid resources for those starting out. Why not start a group in your area?
In a mamabake scenario, because you’re now cooking for 16 people, you can feel a motivating pressure to cook well and probably better than you would cook on a Thursday night at a moment’s notice. I think it’s this contemplation, effort and love that goes into the Mamabake food that makes a huge difference. We have not had a sub-standard meal yet. I look forward to meeting up with the Mother’s from Mamabake, I can’t wait to see what we create in someone’s kitchen next.