The concept behind the Whole Bowl is simple: “It’s food to keep a new mum going all the time so she’s not snacking on crap,” says Elle Doran, who co-founded the meal-bundle service with friend and nutritionist Daisy Manson.
That sentiment will resonate with anyone who’s had a baby. It’s when you’re recovering from the exhaustion, trauma and pain of birth that you need solid nutrition the most. But by some perverse twist, that’s also the time when you have a tiny, helpless person to care for – and making proper meals and taking care of yourself can feel impossible while you’re spending time bonding with your baby.
The Whole Bowl delivers food bundles – nutritious, locally sourced, mostly organic breakfasts, lunches, dinners and snacks – to new mums to support them during the early days of new parenthood.
The meals are substantial and nutrient dense, and the deluxe bundle has your meals and snacks sorted for days. There’s beef lasagne made with Feather and Bone brisket that’s been slow-cooked for five hours; seasonal vegetable soup made with a bone-broth base; grain-and-vegetable salad; cinnamon-maple granola; apple-and-berry crumble; lactation cookies; and banana bread. The vegetarian option has a lasagne of lentils, mushroom and walnuts, and any bundle can be made vegan or gluten-free.
“Our menu is designed to be nutrient dense, but also energy dense – because someone who is breastfeeding or in recovery needs a lot of calories to heal and recover,” Manson tells Broadsheet. Doran and Manson run the entire operation themselves, from developing recipes to cooking, packing meals in sustainable packaging, and delivering them. Delivery day is their favourite day.
“We love hitting the road together and seeing people,” says Doran. “Quite often we’re delivering a gift. A mum might answer the door with a baby hanging off a boob, the dog’s barking. People get really overwhelmed; there are often tears on delivery day.”
Being separated from family because of lockdown or overseas travel bans is hard on everyone, but when you’re a mum with a newborn at home the absence of family and community is particularly tough. Doran, who is expecting her second child in October, says the pandemic has brought the isolation of motherhood into focus.
“People are separated by oceans and lockdowns. Before, if you had a baby your mum could come visit for three months, but now that can’t happen. For people in other countries and states who can’t come in person to help, it’s so important they can send help in the form of food,” she says.